Towards an Ethical Wealth of Nations: An Institutional Perspective on the Relation between Ethical Values and National Economic Prosperity

Business Ethics Quarterly 25 (4):461-488 (2015)
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ABSTRACT:In this paper we examine how ethical values contribute to national economic prosperity. We extend the concept of an ethical wealth of nations first introduced by Donaldson in which he proposed four categories of ethical values—fairer distribution of goods, better government, ingrained social cooperation, and inculcation of economic duties—that can drive economic performance, but only if citizens ascribe “intrinsic value” to them independent of their economic interests. Our analysis draws on institutional economics and sociology research to show that if ethical values are to drive economic performance, they must also be supported by the institutional fabric of the nation. We embed an expanded set of ethical values in a set of democratic, free market and civil society institutions spanning three sectors of society—political, economic and cultural respectively. We conclude by discussing the implications of our institutional framework for moral education.



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