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Business and Society


Do we need businesses for business ethics? ... business ethics: a (discourse) ethical perspective (1) ... definition of the situation through the actor ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Business and Society

Business and Society
  • A Theory of Business Ethics beyond Risk Management

Socio-Economic Theories of Sustainable Change
Business Ethics
  • Why?
  • Practical some impressions
  • Theoretical the lack of regulative frameworks
  • Businesses as drivers for sustainable change?
  • How? (contemporary concepts)
  • Theses business ethics from an economic
  • Antitheses business ethics from an (discourse)
    ethical perspective
  • socio-economic perspective of business ethics
  • not a syntheses of an economic and ethical
  • critical social science perspective that opens
    windows to possible worlds (Giddens)
  • (1) questions economic worlds
  • (2) complementary to impossible worlds of
    ethical approaches

Why Business Ethics? (Practical problems)
  • business scandals
  • business ethics and global problems
  • intragenerational justice (North-South)
  • intergenerational justice (future generations)
  • ? systemic push towards more intra- and
    intergenerational justice (through

Why Business Ethics? (theoretical arguments)
  • Do we need businesses for business ethics?
  • Moral economics and the relevance of political
  • good games require more good rules than good
    players (Buchanan/ Brennan)
  • political regulations necessary but not
  • regulative frameworks are incomplete
  • regulative frameworks are merely reactive
  • the influence of the traditional national-state
    is increasingly limited (globalization)
  • consequences
  • social responsibility of businesses
  • business ethics is more than a supplement to
    moral economics

Why Business Ethics? (businesses as drivers for
  • businesses are de facto drivers for change
  • can they also become drivers for sustainable
  • difficult, very difficult but not hopeless and
  • depending on other conditions

  • Why?
  • How? (contemporary concepts)
  • Theses business ethics from an
    economic perspective
  • Antitheses business ethics from an
    (discourse) ethical perspective
  • socio-economic perspective of business ethics

business ethics an economic perspective
  • risk management
  • organizational improvement
  • market positioning
  • civil positioning

business ethics a (discourse) ethical
perspective (1)
  • criticism of the utilitarian approaches of
    traditional economics and management
  • moral point of view as a critical position
  • theoretical status regulative idea (not
    empirical facts)
  • transformation from an utilitarian to a
    communicative logic

business ethics a (discourse) ethical
perspective (2)
  • Two levels of responsibility
  • Level 1 ethics of business
  • innovative synthesis between ethics and economics
    (teleological orientation)
  • principal of categorical self-binding through
    deontological values (responsible profit-seeking
    not profit-maximization)
  • Level 2 republican idea of business ethics
  • ordoliberal commitment (arrangement of the
    political framework)
  • critical public (as community of all citizens) is
    the authority of just businesses practices

contemporary business ethics a criticism
  • (discourse) ethical perspective
  • explication of the moral point of view as
    impossible worlds
  • normative orientations are necessary!
  • focus on ideal communication communities
  • neglecting real communication communities
  • chance of realization about zero
  • economic perspective
  • no normative orientation
  • argumentation within the economic paradigm
  • based on a specific understanding of economic
  • helpful perspective but just one possible
    standpoint and not the objectively-given truth

business ethics a socio-economic perspective (1)
  • general idea
  • not impossible worlds
  • not economic worlds
  • possible worlds
  • critical social science approach
  • critical in the sense that the social scientist
    tries to develop new visions of social reality
  • social sciences as hunters of myths (Elias)
  • especially economical myths

4 modern myths
  • Myth 1 individuals act according to the
    principle of utility maximization (theory of
  • Myth 2 organization are rational entities
    businesses merely speak and understand the
    language of profit (maximization) (organizational
  • Myth 3 institutions are the result of rational
    decisions or they are the result of an
    evolutionary process of natural selection
    (institutional theory)
  • Myth 4 the economic system is an autonomous
    societal sphere (system theory/ theory of spheres
    of values).

other myths
economic perspective
socio-economic perspective
utility maximization
interpretative theory of action
  • Myth 1(actions)
  • Myth 2(orga.)
  • Myth 3(inst.)
  • Myth 4(system/sphere)

multilingual actors
  • rational entities (profits)

cultural science paradigm
natural science paradigm
  • institutions as symbolic orders
  • optimal institutions

conflicts between spheres of values
autonomous system
M1 interpretative theory of action
  • interpretative
  • not objectively-given situations (logic of the
    situation) but
  • definition of the situation through the actor
  • perspective of the actors ? perspective of the
  • cognitive frames, scripts of actions, routines
  • relevant theories
  • Interpretative Sociology (Weber, Schütz, Berger/
    Luckmann et al.)
  • New Economic Sociology (Granovetter et al.)
  • Evolutionary Economics (Nelson/ Winter, Witt et

M 2 3 multilingual actorsand institutions as
symbolic orders (1)
  • What are institutions?
  • institutions guide our action
  • shared meanings that enable free individuals to
    coordinate their actions
  • reduce uncertain while they help to frame
  • Institutions are relevant
  • intraorganisational
  • interorganisational

Next week Institutionalization of
Sustainability. A Theoretical Framework and some
Empirical Results (same time, same place)
M 2 3 multilingual actorsand institutions as
symbolic orders (2)
  • (1) intraorganisational
  • profit-seeking is the leading modus of businesses
    but not the only one (Wieland transactions cost
  • businesses also communicate in terms of law,
    politics, morality (ontological argument)
  • businesses are multilingual actors
  • morality is in principal available in business
    but not necessarily applicable forms
  • consequences foster forms of application of
  • institutional level
  • clear values, such as codes of conduct

M 2 3 multilingual actorsand institutions as
symbolic orders (3)
  • (2) intraorganisational
  • explicit and implicit knowledge in businesses is
  • businesses as bundle of individual competences
    and routines
  • evolutionary economics and organizational
    learning literature
  • consequences on two levels
  • Individual level
  • moral competences
  • institutional level
  • institutional arrangements enable (moral)
    learning processes (sustainable change)

M 2 3 multilingual actorsand institutions as
symbolic orders (4)
  • intraorganisational
  • (1) stabilization of values
  • (2) learning processes and sustainable change
  • Balance!

M 4 conflicts between spheres of values
  • the economic system has its own logic
    (Eigengesetzlichkeiten, Max Weber) however its
    is not an autonomous sphere
  • economic theories neglect the relation to other
    spheres (Religion, Politics, Science, Medias, Art
  • focus on the tensions and conflicts between
    different spheres is necessary
  • theories of societal differentiation are relevant
  • Weber (theory of spheres of values)
  • geneses of institutions
  • Luhmann (system theory)
  • organizations as mediators between different
  • organizations as origin of change

  • economic worlds are seen as a possible worlds
    however, it is merely one possible story we can
  • socio-economic perspective hunts economic myths
    and tries to tell another story
  • questions certain assumptions of economic
  • develops possible worlds based on
  • theory of action,
  • organizational and institutional theory
  • theory of spheres of values
  • develops another how it is or how we can see
  • complementary to impossible worlds of ethical
  • Linkage between possible and impossible worlds
    still open

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