It is generally assumed that common stock investors are exclusively interested in earning the highest level of future cash-flow for a given amount of risk. This view suggests that investors select a well-diversified portfolio of securities to achieve this goal. Accordingly, it is often assumed that investors are unwilling to pay a premium for corporate behavior which can be described as socially-responsible.Recently, this view has been under increasing attack. According to the Social Investment Forum, at least 538 institutional investors now (...) allocate funds using social screens or criteria. In addition, Alice Tepper Marlin, president of the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities has recently estimated that about $600 billion of invested funds are socially-screened (1992). (shrink)
Wayne Norman and Chris MacDonald launch a strong attack against Triple Bottom Line or 3BL accounting in their article “Gettingto the Bottom of ‘Triple Bottom Line’” (2004). This response suggests that, while limitations to 3BL accounting do exist, the critique of Norman and MacDonald is deeply flawed.
The goal of this paper is to provide a general discussion about the legitimacy of corporate social responsibility. Given that social responsibility projects entail costs, it is not always obvious under what precise conditions managers will have a responsibility to engage in activities primarily designed to promote societal goals.In this paper we discuss four distinct criteria for evaluating the legitimacy of corporate projects for institutionalizing social responsibility.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, in his recent book Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (2007), rejects outright the call for increased corporate social responsibility. He believes that social responsibility advocates are wasting resources and efforts on a doomed project. This article suggests that while Reich raises several interesting concerns in his counter-intuitive book, especially about the rise in corporate political power, ultimately his argument is unconvincing. Worse yet, a careful reading suggests that Reich does (...) not contemplate fully what it is he is asking business and society to give up in his call to jettison corporate social responsibility. The notion of corporate social responsibility is itself an extremely, valuable, and hard-won social asset. It is a vehicle for promoting transparency, more nuanced accountability, integrity, better communication, mutually beneficial exchange, and sensible development. In providing a language and vocabulary to critique business from both inside and outside its boundaries, it has becomes a necessary condition for business ethics and modern capitalism. It is especially important in a world of increasing global economics. Nevertheless, it is an extremely fragile asset. Books, like Reich's Supercapitalism, that dismiss corporate social responsibility in such a facile way, are dangerous and risky in ways that perhaps even the authors themselves are unaware. (shrink)
Philosophers generally agree that meaningful ethical statements are universal in scope. If so, what sense is there to speak about a business ethics particular to Judaism? Just as a Jewish algebra and a Jewish physics are contradictions in terms, so too, is the notion of a particularly Jewish business ethics. The goal of this paper is to deny the above assertion and to explore the potentially unique characteristic of a Jewish business ethics. Ethics, in the final analysis, is not like (...) algebra or physics. Specifically, it is argued here that – in terms of substance – Jewish business ethics differs from secular approaches in three very specific ways. Jewish ethics: (1) recognizes God as the ultimate source of value, (2) acknowledges the centrality of the community, (3) and holds out the promise that men and women (living in community) can transform themselves. We define Jewish ethics as the interpretation of the written and oral Torah to determine what God commands us to be and to do. The paper carefully explores this definition and examines its specific implications for modern business ethics. (shrink)
This paper examines three popular and important books on spirituality in business: Mitroff and Denton's A Spiritual Audit of Corporte America, Nash and McLennan's Church on Sunday, Work on Monday, and Lerner's Spirit Matters. Interestingly, none of these books can find satisfactory examples of legitimate spirituality in business. This paper suggests that one reason these authors can not find acceptable models of spirituality in business is that they are all employing an unnecessarily restrictive definition of spirituality. The paper concludes by (...) suggesting that a definition of spirituality based on John Dewey's pragmatist philosophy is more appropriate for today's businesses. (shrink)
Increasingly many business practitioners and academics are turning to religious sources as a way of approaching and answering difficult questions related to business ethics. There now exists a relatively large literature which attempts to integrate business decisions and religious values. The integration, however, is not without difficulties. For many, religious ethics provides the basis and the ultimate authority for a morally meaningful life. Yet, at the same time, in certain contexts, it is often inappropriate to rely and to publicly justify (...) action on the basis of these ethics. With this difficulty in mind, the main goal of this paper is to answer the following specific question: Is a religiously grounded business ethics consistent with the idea of political liberalism? While this question is fundamental and straight-forward, to date it has received little, if any, careful attention. The characterization of business corporations as quasi-public, discussed in the body of the paper, implies that political liberalism may dictate that there exist situations in which invoking religious business ethics is inappropriate. The point is that once one removes the assumption of business as a purely private matter, the justification of a religiously grounded ethics in the context of a politically liberal democracy becomes problematic. On the other hand, such an assumption should not be taken to imply that all religiously grounded business ethics are always inappropriate. As this paper demonstrates, it is far from obvious that even government officials need observe a complete separation between religion and state in formulating, justifying, or expressing public policies, even policies leading to so-called coercive results. If so, it follows that managers of quasi-public institutions may, under appropriate and limited circumstances, invoke and rely upon a religious, albeit private, world-view. (shrink)
This paper is divided into two sections. In the first section, I discuss "what is spirituality?" and in the section that follows, I examine some of the implications of my definition to the teaching of spirituality in an undergraduate business ethics course. For the purposes of this paper, spirituality is defined as the planned experience of blending integrity and integration through 1 - acceptance, 2 - commitment, 3 - reasonable choice, 4 - mindful action, and 5 -continuous dialog. This definition (...) is a work-in-progress and offered mainly as a point of departure rather than a final destination. (shrink)
Humanistic management theory and religiously grounded business ethics are both important research avenues for the study of business management. This paper links these two domains by examining to what extent a religiously grounded business ethics can potentially contribute to the broad and burgeoning literature on humanistic management through an exploration of the case of Jewish business ethics. Specifically, this paper examines three distinct ways of doing Jewish business ethics. These three ways are labeled here as traditionalist, integrationist, and constructivist. Each (...) of these distinct paths begins with a different conception of the fundamental relationship between Judaism and business. Traditionalists believe that the creation of wealth is a legitimate practice, but only because Judaism says so. Integrationists, by contrast, consider wealth creation as a legitimate practice on its own terms. From this perspective, wealth creation is viewed as a positive human activity, independent of its grounding in religious thought. Judaism contributes to wealth creation by setting and guarding its appropriate boundaries and limits and by serving as an external source of morality and meaning, often invoking broad aspirational Jewish values like tikkun olam. Finally, constructivists agree with the integrationists about the stand-alone value of wealth creation. Constructivists push even further, though, and assert that business is not only a legitimate practice, but it is a potentially meaningful one. Business is imagined as an ongoing and open-ended constructive project, one that includes a broad and complex set of human values including wealth creation, but potentially other values like covenantal leadership, kindness, everyday redemption, and other higher purposes. Here, business is no longer viewed merely as a source of material wealth for society but business is envisioned as a potentially important location and source of human meaning and fulfillment. For the constructivists, the role of Jewish business ethics is not to judge business from the outside, but it is to actively participate and contribute to an expansive dialogue with other business ethics voices, centered on the construction of new and evolved forms of business as a human enterprise. (shrink)
The specific purpose of this introductory paper is to explicitly introduce readers to some of the important Biblical, Talmudic, andpost-Talmudic texts which deal with business ethics. As the discussion will show, Judaism’s traditional texts treat an amazing variety of issues emphasizing responsibilities in the business context. These texts are both legalistic and aspirational in character. The theme of this study is that an authentic Jewish business ethics needs to grow out of an understanding of the needs of modern, complex economies (...) but need not accept the status quo as binding. Jewish business ethics texts provide rules of behavior, but more importantly, the texts reveal a vision encouraging us to incorporate the highest human and spiritual ideals into the common world of business.The second section of the paper emphasizes that in order to develop Jewish business ethics, especially (but not exclusively) at the levelof the organization, models of aspiration will of necessity play an integral role. A Jewish business ethics which conceptualizes Judaismas merely a set of legal rules is bound to failure. A key conclusion of this section is that Jewish business ethics needs to continue to self-consciously promote models of aspirations, as well as rely on fixed legal norms.Finally, the third section of the paper examines a specific corporate policy (no smoking) in light of a Jewish business ethics. (shrink)
The idea of corporate social responsibility is neither new nor radical. The core belief is that business managers, even in their role as managers, have responsibilities to society beyond profit maximization. Managers, in pursuing their primary goal of increasing shareholder value, have social responsibilities in addition to meeting the minimal requirements of the law. Nevertheless, the call for increased social responsibility on the part of business managers remains controversial. At least two major perspectives on social responsibility can be isolated. The (...) classical view, most closely identified with Milton Friedman, suggests that social responsibility is incompatible with a free enterprise economy. By contrast, advocates of increased social responsibility point out the desirability for voluntary (and at times costly) corporate activities which promote society's well being. The purpose of this essay is to briefly describe both the classical and pro-social responsibility perspectives. We suggest that while important differences in assumptions characterize the two distinct views, there is enough overlap and agreement to move the debate beyond the current stalemate. Specifically, we argue that the concept oflifnim mishurat hadin, an innovative and ancient Jewish legal doctrine which is usually translated as beyond the letter of the law, might serve as a model for modern legal and social thought. We examine talmudic and post-talmudic sources which apply this concept to the area of business ethics, and explore its applicability to the modern situation. Although the business ethics literature rarely refers to Talmudic and rabbinic sources, these texts reflect a sophisticated understanding of business practices and ethical problems. (shrink)
The case for dialogue -- Increasing moral capital through moral imagination -- The art of ethical dialogue -- Intelligent spirituality in business -- Spirituality in (and out) of the classroom -- Listening to the anxious atheists -- Beyond the flat world metaphor -- Dialogue as a restraint on wealth -- The limits of dialogue.
The number and magnitude of the ethics failures reported on a nearly daily basis in newspapers and on blogs are seemingly unprecedented. The "castle is on fire," to borrow a rabbinic metaphor, and each one of us is faced with the question: Is there anything we can do about it? In this book, Moses Pava explores new and alternative ways of relating to Jewish texts and concepts. In doing so, he invents a nuanced, flexible, and sufficiently sensitive vocabulary to conduct (...) productive ethical dialogues, both within and between communities. (shrink)
In his book, Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner offers both a constructive critique of current educational practices and an alternative vision for the future of education. Gardner, best known for his seminal work on multiple intelligences, grounds his major conclusions primarily on the results of his impressive, decade-long, and massive Good Works Project. Despite my several agreements and significant overlap with Howard Gardner, I believe that there is insufficient evidence to accept fully his policy prescriptions. Gardner's selection of (...) the five minds of the future - the disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful, and ethical minds - is based on a set of limiting assumptions concerning globalization, good work, individuality, power and control, disciplines as value-free enterprises, ethics as the point of view of the universe, and the completeness of his list. This paper suggests that our conception of education might be dramatically expanded to include a more critical and distanced stance towards: globalization, the current goals of business, individualism, the traditional disciplines, and even ethics than Gardner currently imagines. Its aims can and should be broadened to include not only good work, but also love and play. Students must learn how to control their environments, but also how to appreciate and accept life's inevitable difficulties and limits. Ethics should certainly play a more central role in education as Gardner correctly emphasizes, but our understanding of ethics must include not only respect but also care; not only principles but also dialog. To accomplish all of this, however, requires us to think beyond Gardner's five minds to include additional "mental dispositions" like the caring, critical, intersubjective, spiritual, and joyful minds. Each of these "minds" is explored in this paper. (shrink)
Community standards, ethical norms, and perceptions of fairness often serve as constraints on pure profit maximizing behavior. Consider the following examples: Most hardware stores refrain from raising prices on snow shovels after a major snow storm, even where short term profits might be increased. Most employers do not lower wages for existing employees, even as unemployment in the area increases. Automobile dealerships rarely raise sticker prices to cope with the long waiting periods for a popular model. Each of these anomalies (...) is consistent with the proposition that firms increase profits subject to fairness constraints.This paper examines perceptions of fairness in the residential real estate industry and explores how community standards affect economic decision-making. The residential real estate industry is unique. One party to the transaction (the landlord) frames decisions as pure business decisions. The other party to the transaction (the tenant) frames decisions more broadly. While a tenant's choice of apartments is in part viewed as a business decision, tenants consider a broad spectrum of non-business issues, as well. (shrink)
. Part C of this three part series is the presentation from the Oxford style debate held at the Tenth Annual International Conference Promoting Business Ethics between Laura Hartman, J.D., and Dr. Moses Pava on topics related to the EverQuest® v. EverCrack case. In a traditional Oxford style debate, two debaters take opposing viewpoints and the third debater argues the neutral position. At the Conference, the modified format featured the two debaters presenting diametrically opposing views – corporate responsibility versus personal (...) responsibility. This modified format was also used during the Ethics Awareness Week, with University professors presenting the debate before the student body. Ms. Hartman’s position focused on the personal responsibility by Mr Woolley while Dr. Pava opined that Sony Online Entertainment had corporate responsibility toward Mr. Woolley and all other individuals similarly situated. (shrink)
This paper, following the work of the sociologist Philip Selznick, identifies three stages of moral development in organizations: ethical improvisation, ethical institutionalization, and ethical revival. I argue here that the developmental perspective is inherent in the structure of biblical narrative, especially in the stories of Genesis and Exodus. The paper concludes by debunking three common myths associated with business ethics.
This article explores and examines some of the findings from the burgeoning field of evolutionary psychology. How important are these results to our understanding of morality and ethics? In addition, more specifically, how important are theses results to our understanding of business ethics? I believe that the jury is still out on these questions. This article: (1) summarizes some of the strengths of evolutionary psychology (of which there are several); (2) identifies specific findings and suggests that many of these findings (...) are overstated and exaggerated; and (3) points out several methodological limitations and weaknesses. The article does not, in the end, recommend jettisoning evolutionary psychology. To the contrary, its point is that evolutionary psychology is a potentially useful method among many others to help us to better understand our "moral universe/' However, evolutionary psychology will never allow us to pierce through "the illusions that evolution and culture have saddled us with" as the psychologist Steven Pinker overpromises. This is true for the simple reason that science itself Í5 both a product of evolution and a cultural practice. The aspiration of some evolutionary psychologists to transcend evolution (nature) and culture (nurture) through science is itself a dangerous illusion. Nevertheless, evolutionary psychology's modest findings to date are a welcome contribution to anyone interested in making better and wiser ethical decisions, business or otherwise. The more knowledge we gain about our own brains and how they functions the better. These findings, however, should be subject to the same systematic scrutiny and healthy skepticism one would apply to any moral or ethical claim regardless of its origins. That is the purpose of this article. (shrink)
Many corporate managers are increasingly looking to the covenant model for inspiration, guidance, and most of all, practical business wisdom. While some managers seemingly exploit the religiously inspired language of covenant for purely self-interested reasons, other managers and executives like Tom Chappell of Tom''s of Maine, Max De Pree of Herman Miller, Aaron Feurstein of Malden Mills, and C. William Pollard of ServiceMaster, express an authentic attachment to the idea. While these executives have been the most articulate and the most (...) extreme spokesmen for the application of the covenant model for business, other companies have attempted to benefit from the concept, albeit in less explicitly religious terms.Our research suggests that the most fundamental answer to the question of what makes a "business covenant" work is – covenantal leadership. Simply put, but easily forgotten, the one thesis which emerges over and over again in our research is that covenantal organizations require covenantal leadership. (shrink)