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Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Paradox Reconsidered

Jensen, Karsten Klint (2007) Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Paradox Reconsidered. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 20 (6), pp. 515-532.

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Is it legitimate for a business to concentrate on profits under respect for the law and ethical custom? On the one hand, there seems to be good reasons for claiming that a corporation has a duty act for the benefit of all its stakeholders. On the other hand, this seems to dissolve the notion of a private business; but then again, a private business would appear to be exempted from ethical responsibility. This is what Kenneth Goodpaster has called the stakeholder paradox: either we have ethics without business or we have business without ethics.
Through a different route, I reach the same solution to this paradox as Goodpaster, namely that a corporation is the instrument of the shareholders only, but that shareholders still have an obligation to act ethically responsible. To this, I add discussion of Friedman’s claim that this responsibility consist in increasing profits. I show that most of his arguments fail. Only pragmatic considerations allow to a certain extent that some of the ethical responsibility is left over to democratic regulation.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Democracy, Ethical responsibility, Freedom, Free rider
Subjects: Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > CONCEPTS - The Future Outlook for the Organic Market in Denmark
Deposited By: Krarup, Senior Research Fellow Signe
ID Code:11344
Deposited On:06 Aug 2009
Last Modified:27 Jul 2012 09:17
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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