The differences between the "habits of the heart" in German and U.S.-American corporations can be described by analyzing the way corporations deal with norms and values within their organizations. Whereas many U.S. corporations have introduced formal business ethics programs, German companies are very reluctant to address normative questions publicly. This can be explained by the different cultural backgrounds in both countries. By defining these different "habits of the heart" underlying German and American business ethics it is possible to show the (...) problems and questions within the intercultural management of values, but also the possible solutions. (shrink)
Modern society is challenged by a loss of efficiency in national governance systems values, and lifestyles. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse builds upon a conception of organizational legitimacy that does not appropriately reflect these changes. The problems arise from the a-political role of the corporation in the concepts of cognitive and pragmatic legitimacy, which are based on compliance to national law and on relatively homogeneous and stable societal expectations on the one hand and widely accepted rhetoric assuming that all members (...) of society benefit from capitalist production on the other. We therefore propose a fundamental shift to moral legitimacy, from an output and power oriented approach to an input related and discursive concept of legitimacy. This shift creates a new basis of legitimacy and involves organizations in processes of active justification vis-à-vis society rather than simply responding to the demands of powerful groups. We consider this a step towards the politicization of the corporation and attempt to re-embed the debate on corporate legitimacy into its broader context of political theory, while reflecting the recent turn from a liberal to a deliberative concept of democracy. (shrink)
This article assesses some of the implications of globalization for the scholarly debate on business ethics, CSR and related concepts. The argument is based, among other things, on the declining capacity of nation state institutions to regulate socially desirable corporate behavior as well as the growing corporate exposure to heterogeneous social, cultural and political values in societies globally. It is argued that these changes are shifting the corporate role towards a sphere of societal governance hitherto dominated by traditional political actors. (...) This leads to a discussion of the ambivalent results of such a process for a responsible corporate role in a globalized world. While assessing the current reception these changes have received in the management literature, the contributions of the four articles in this Special Issue are framed and evaluated. The argument closes by highlighting avenues of future research on this new challenge. (shrink)
In a globalizing world, governments are not always able or willing to regulate the social and environmental externalities of global business activities. Multi-stakeholder initiatives , defined as global institutions involving mainly corporations and civil society organizations, are one type of regulatory mechanism that tries to fill this gap by issuing soft law regulation. This conceptual paper examines the conditions of a legitimate transfer of regulatory power from traditional democratic nation-state processes to private regulatory schemes, such as MSIs. Democratic legitimacy is (...) typically concerned with input legitimacy and output legitimacy . In this study, we identify MSI input legitimacy criteria and those of MSI output legitimacy , and discuss their implications for MSI democratic legitimacy. (shrink)
Tobacco companies have started to position themselves as good corporate citizens. The effort towards CSR engagement in the tobacco industry is not only heavily criticized by anti-tobacco NGOs. Some opponents such as the the World Health Organization have even categorically questioned the possibility of social responsibility in the tobacco industry. The paper will demonstrate that the deep distrust towards tobacco companies is linked to the lethal character of their products and the dubious behavior of their representatives in recent decades. As (...) a result, tobacco companies are not in the CSR business in the strict sense. Key aspects of mainstream CSR theory and practice such as corporate philanthropy, stakeholder collaboration, CSR reporting and self-regulation, are demonstrated to be ineffective or even counterproductive in the tobacco industry. Building upon the terminology used in the leadership literature, the paper proposes to differentiate between transactional and transformational CSR arguing that tobacco companies can only operate on a transactional level. As a consequence, corporate responsibility in the tobacco industry is based upon a much thinner approach to CSR and has to be conceptualized with a focus on transactional integrity across the tobacco supply chain. (shrink)
Many models of (un)ethical decision making assume that people decide rationally and are in principle able to evaluate their decisions from a moral point of view. However, people might behave unethically without being aware of it. They are ethically blind. Adopting a sensemaking approach, we argue that ethical blindness results from a complex interplay between individual sensemaking activities and context factors.
The debate about the appropriate standards for upstream corporate social responsibility of multinational corporations has been on the public and academic agenda for some three decades. The debate originally focused narrowly on “contract responsibility” of MNCs for monitoring of upstream contractors for “sweatshop” working conditions violating employee rights. The authors argue that the MNC upstream responsibility debate has shifted qualitatively over time to “full producer responsibility” involving an expansion from “contract responsibility” in three distinct dimensions. First, there is an expansion (...) of scope from working conditions to human rights and social and environmental impacts broadly defined. Second, there is expansion in depth of this broader responsibility to the whole upstream supply chain without regard to contracting status. Upstream responsibility now includes all suppliers, including direct contractors and the chain of suppliers to such contractors. Finally, the change in CSR scope and depth has led to an evolution of CSR management practice. (shrink)
Partnerships between companies and NGOs have received considerable attention in CSR in the past years. However, the role of NGO legitimacy in such partnerships has thus far been neglected. We argue that NGOs assume a status as special stakeholders of corporations which act on behalf of the common good. This role requires a particular focus on their moral legitimacy. We introduce a conceptual framework for analysing the moral legitimacy of NGOs along three dimensions, building on the theory of deliberative democracy. (...) Against this background we outline three procedural characteristics which are essential for judging the legitimacy of NGOs as potential or actual partners of corporations. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the instrumental perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in practice and theory by relying on sociological analyses of a well known organization: the Italian Mafia. Legal businesses might share features of the Mafia, such as the propensity to exploit a governance vacuum in society, a strong organizational identity that demarcates the inside from the outside, and an extreme profit motive. Instrumental CSR practices have the power to accelerate a firm’s transition to (...) Mafia status through its own pathologies. The boundaries of such instrumentalism are explored and lessons for future CSR research derived, with specific emphasis on a firm’s social and normative embeddedness, taking into account the inherent challenge of regulating corporate behaviour in the global economy. (shrink)
Past decades have witnessed the growing success of branding as a corporate activity as well as a rise in anti-brand activism. While appearing to be contradictory, both trends have emerged from common sources – the transition from industrial to post-industrial society, and the advent of globalization – the examination of which might lead to a socially grounded understanding of why brand success in the future is likely to demand more than superior product performance, placing increasing demand on corporations with regard (...) to a broader envelop of socially responsible behavior. Directions for strategic and managerial options are suggested. (shrink)
Every time another corporate scandal captures media headlines, the ‘bad apple vs. bad barrel’ discussion starts anew. Yet this debate overlooks the influence of the broader societal context on organizational behavior. In this article, we argue that misbehaviors of organizations (the ‘barrels’) and their members (the ‘apples’) cannot be addressed properly without a clear understanding of their broader context (the ‘larder’). Whereas previously, a strong societal framework dampened the practical application of the Homo economicus concept (business actors as perfectly rational (...) and egocentric utility-maximizing agents without any moral concern), specialization, individualization and globalization led to a business world disembedded from broader societal norms. This emancipated business world promotes a literal interpretation of Homo economicus among business organizations and their members. Consequently, we argue that the first step toward ‘healthier’ apples and barrels is to sanitize the larder, that is, adapt the framework in which organizations and their members evolve. (shrink)
Multinational corporations are operating in complex business environments. They are confronted with contradictory institutional demands that often represent mutually incompatible expectations of various audiences. Managing these demands poses new organizational challenges for the corporation. Conducting an empirical case study at the sportswear manufacturer Puma, we explore how multinational corporations respond to institutional complexity and what legitimacy strategies they employ to maintain their license to operate. We draw on the literature on institutional theory, contingency theory, and organizational paradoxes. The results of (...) our qualitative longitudinal study show that managing corporate legitimacy is a dynamic process in which corporations adapt organizational capacities, structures, and procedures. (shrink)
The last years have seen a surge of scandals in financial intermediation. This article argues that the agency structure inherent to most forms of financial intermediation gives rise to conflicts of interest. Though this does not excuse scandalous behavior it points out market imperfections. There are four types of conflicts of interest: personal-individual, personal-organizational, impersonal-individual, and finally, impersonal-organizational conflicts. Analyzing recent scandals we find that all four types of conflicts of interest prevail in financial intermediation.
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining (...) a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business. In both these dimensions people appeared to adopt cautious opinions: most people preferred relatively traditional and natural farms and were concerned about the use of nature and treatment of animals in modern production—although this did not imply an outright rejection of modern animal farming. The study also looked for (and sought to explain) differences of opinion between social groups. Besides socio-demographic factors such as age and gender, farming experience and value-orientation (such as socially minded and professional) appeared to be important variables. The values and convictions within modern society can help to explain why some people are greatly concerned about animal welfare while some show less concern. This diversity also helps to explain why general information campaigns are quite ineffective in allaying concerns about modern animal farming. (shrink)
Consumer surveys confirm two facts: First, consumers are aware of social and ethical side effects of production and consumption. Second, consumers indicate an intention to adapt their consumption behavior. Despite their willingness to change, consumers do not engage in ethical consumption behavior. We assert that the ethical consumer needs to be created and propose two mechanisms how corporations can cocreate the ethical consumer: Influencing external institutional factors and influencing internal psychological factors.
During the last years, historic injustices have been on top of the public agenda revolving around the question of how to deal with difficult pasts. This applies togovernments but also to corporations. We aim at addressing this trend of historic corporate responsibility. We examine corporations as intergenerational moral agents, introduce the problem of historic complicity, and propose a concept of historic corporate responsibility.
The purpose of this paper is to provoke a debate on the management of social issues building on the analysis of a well known illegal organization, namely theSicilian Mafia. According to the analytical framework provided by Gambetta (1993), the Sicilian Mafia could be considered as a business on its own dealing a specific commodity: the ‘protection of people’. That approach of ‘Mafia as a corporation’ allows investigating the social responsibility of that organization and the way the Mafia managed its key (...) stakeholders. As we will argue, the recent spate of corporate scandals reveals the risk of normal corporations turning into a Mafia type of organization. One of the key drivers of those scandals is the overstretched instrumental interpretation of a corporation's societal responsibilities. By caricaturing and perverting some established practices of the mainstream approach to CSR perspective, we will demonstrate the potential pathologies of a CSR approach that is mainly based on the neoliberal foundation of individual and organizational self-interest. (shrink)
While considerable attention has been given to the harm done to consumers by marketing, less attention has been given to the harm done by consumers as an indirect effect of marketing activities, particularly in regard to supply chains. The recent development of dramatically expanded global supply chains has resulted in social and environmental problems upstream that are attributable at least in part to downstream marketers and consumers. Marketers have responded mainly by using corporate social responsibility communication to counter the critique (...) of CSR practice, but these claims of ethical corporate behavior often lack credibility and can result in a backlash against brands. The article argues that more adequate attention to the harmful upstream effects of downstream marketing and consumption decisions requires greater attention to stakeholder marketing and marketer efforts to help create responsible consumers. It concludes by identifying implications for further research in this important emergent area of marketing ethics. (shrink)
In the early 1990s, the notion of culture-led regeneration entered the urban agenda of several European cities confronted with drastic economic changes due to losses in their industrial base. This paper critically addresses a major case in the City of Rome, indeed less affected by these phenomena. In here, the densely populated working-class districts of Ostiense and Testaccio along the Tiber River just outside the City Centre have become part for some years now of a culture-led regeneration program conveying a (...) brand new idea of “Knowledge City” deemed able to supplant the previous image of the “Factory City.”. (shrink)
: We discuss the role that transnational corporations should play in developing global governance, creating a framework of rules and regulations for the global economy. The central issue is whether TNCs should provide global rules and guarantee individual citizenship rights, or instead focus on maximizing profits. First, we describe the problems arising from the globalization process that affect the relationship between public rules and private firms. Next we consider the position of economic and management theories in relation to the social (...) responsibility of the firm. We argue that instrumental stakeholder theory and business and society research can only partially solve the global governance issue, and that more recent concepts of corporate citizenship and republican business ethics deliver theoretically and practically helpful, fresh insights. However, even these need further development, especially with regard to the legitimacy of corporate political activity. (shrink)
In the “Sala dei Mesi” of Palazzo Schifanoia the months and the zodiacal constellations go from right to left, while the decans (three for every sign) go in the opposite direction. This problem was not clarified by Aby Warburg in his well-known essay Italian Art and International Astrology in the Palazzo Schifanoia of Ferrara (1912). The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reasons of this double direction.
The article offers a critical assessment of an article on “Corporate Legitimacy as Deliberation” by Guido Palazzo and Andreas Scherer in this journal. We share the concern about the precarious legitimacy of globally active corporations, infringing on the legitimacy of democracy at large. There is no quarrel with Palazzo/Scherer’s diagnosis, which focuses on the consequences of globalization and ensuing challenges for corporate social responsibilities. However, we disagree with the “solutions” offered by them. In a first step we refute (...) the idea of a legitimacy of morals, maintaining that morality is a premodern mode of creating legitimacy. Even worse, moral is becoming a dangerous commodity under conditions of fundamental global disagreements and antagonisms. We secondly refute the concept of the “politicized corporation”, maintaining that Palazzo/Scherer disregard the consequences of functional differentiation of modern societies and, in particular, disregard the wisdom of political restraint and constitutional guarantees for the autonomy of different spheres of society. Finally, we refute a seemingly romantic notion of deliberation, maintaining that deliberation and deliberative democracy is a worthy idea, which, however, has no place in the real world of globalized contexts. On the other hand, we also find enough common ground and common concern with Palazzo/Scherer to validate a fruitful discourse. (shrink)
The article offers a critical assessment of an article on "Corporate Legitimacy as Deliberation" by Guido Palazzo and Andreas Scherer in this journal. We share the concern about the precarious legitimacy of globally active corporations, infringing on the legitimacy of democracy at large. There is no quarrel with Palazzo/Scherer's diagnosis, which focuses on the consequences of globalization and ensuing challenges for corporate social responsibilities. However, we disagree with the "solutions" offered by them. In a first step we refute (...) the idea of a legitimacy of morals, maintaining that morality is a premodern mode of creating legitimacy. Even worse, moral is becoming a dangerous commodity under conditions of fundamental global disagreements and antagonisms. We secondly refute the concept of the "politicized corporation", maintaining that Palazzo/Scherer disregard the consequences of functional differentiation of modern societies and, in particular, disregard the wisdom of political restraint and constitutional guarantees for the autonomy of different spheres of society. Finally, we refute a seemingly romantic notion of deliberation, maintaining that deliberation and deliberative democracy is a worthy idea, which, however, has no place in the real world of globalized contexts. On the other hand, we also find enough common ground and common concern with Palazzo/Scherer to validate a fruitful discourse. (shrink)
Form and content give rise to the question of function in the Saletta delle Dame of the Palazzo Salvadego. It is a uniquely decorated space in which frescos cover the four walls, treating the viewer to an all-round vista of the countryside. Mediating between illusion and reality are eight life-size depictions of women in contemporary dress, whom, set in pairs behind a fictive balustrade, focus their attention towards the centre of the room. In the vaulted ceiling are painted musical (...) instruments, suggesting a possible use for this space. The decorative effect is unlike any other room from this period. This chapter explores the imagery of the Saletta and considers its function within the broader context of frescoed Italian Renaissance rooms. (shrink)