Choice Institutions, Moral Theories, and Social Responsibilities

Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 21:12-22 (2010)
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Abstract

This paper reports a preliminary sketch of a framework for integrating perspectives on economics, ethics, strategy, and stakeholders (Jones, 1995). It may notbe desirable in management practice to separate such considerations (Harris & Freeman, 2008). There are three general types of collective choice institutions: governments, markets, and voluntary associations. There are four general types of moral theory: moral rules (Kantianism), consequentialism (utilitarianism), virtuousness (bundling virtue theory, religion, and moral intuitionism), and social contract. There are three general positions concerning social responsibilities of individuals and corporations (i.e., a licensed group of individuals). One position asserts zero social responsibility beyond compliance with laws. The polar-opposite position asserts significant social responsibilities by moral obligation. An intermediate position asserts social responsibility by agent cost-benefit analysis. The framework seeks to map these types of institutions, moral theories, and social responsibility conceptions relative to one another. The purpose is to see whether insight can be obtained concerning certain key developing debates. The paper explores implications of the work of Ostrom and Williamson (winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences) for this framework. That work addresses choice institutions—to which moral theories and social responsibility theories can be added.

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