Dynamics for Integrative Social Contracts Theory: Norm Evolution and Individual Mobility

Journal of Business Ethics 149 (1):83-95 (2018)
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This article proposes a specific logic of dynamics for integrative social contracts theory that combines two empirically oriented process extensions strengthening concreteness of Donaldson and Dunfee’s conceptualization, namely international policy regime theory and Tiebout migration. While either would help “dynamize” and “concretize” ISCT, the two combined are even more insightful. Real-world policy regime processes can develop concrete action-guiding norms instantiating hypernorms to guide business decisions. Donaldson and Dunfee placed empirical reliance on expectation of converging parallel evolution of universal principles and authentic local values. ISCT remains vague on how global or local norms can develop and change, for two reasons. First, ISCT does not explain mechanisms for how proposed hypernorms can become actual global norms and also become accepted across extant authentic communities. International policy regime theory explains how hypernorms can become instantiated as global norms expressed in policy regimes. Second, a basic element in ISCT is implied consent positing free exit from voluntary moral communities. Empirically, individuals or businesses may be unable to exit from undesired membership in authentic communities to which they do not consent. The Tiebout migration model provides valuable insights concerning how substantive mobility or its absence improves on the minimum ISCT assumption of implied consent. An integrated logic of ISCT dynamics generates a three-level framework in which instantiated hypernorms and authentic community norms can empirically change, and individuals or businesses can migrate more freely across extant communities.



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