Stakeholder learning dialogues: How to preserve ethical responsibility in networks [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 41 (1-2):85 - 98 (2002)
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Abstract

The shift in corporate strategy, from vertical integration to strategic alliances, has developed hand in hand with the evolution of organizational structure, from the vertically integrated firm to the network organization. The result has been the elimination of boundaries, more flexible organizations, and a greater interaction among individuals and organizations. On the negative side, the specialization of firms on single areas of competence has resulted in the disaggregation of the value chain and in the disaggregation of ethical and legal responsibility. To illustrate this point, the paper considers some cases, such as the case of the "beer girls" of Southeast Asia, who are used unethically by distributors to sell beer and liquor. To deal with the problem of the disaggregation of ethical responsibility, managers can use organizational culture and ethical values to control the performance of employees and of other organizations. Contemporary developments in business ethics also offer tools for dealing with the problem. For example, "global corporate citizenship," integrated social contracting theory, and stakeholder learning dialogues provide ways of integrating the interests of all stakeholders. The task is now to use these new approaches to create a governance process that incorporates the voices of all stakeholders, especially the voices of those stakeholders that have legitimate and urgent moral claims, but lack the power to establish those claims.

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