The Firm as a “Community of Persons”: A Pillar of Humanistic Business Ethos

Journal of Business Ethics 106 (1):89-101 (2012)

Abstract

The article starts by arguing that seeing the firm as a mere nexus of contracts or as an abstract entity where different stakeholder interests concur is insufficient for a “humanistic business ethos”, which entails a complete view of the human being. It seems more appropriate to understand the firm as a human community, a concept which can be found in several sources, including managerial literature, business ethics scholars, and Catholic Social Teaching. In addition, there are also philosophical grounds that support the idea of business as a human community. Extending this concept, and drawing from some Phenomenological-Personalist philosophers, we propose that the firm should be seen as a particular “community of persons” oriented to providing goods and services efficiently and profitably. Being a “community of persons” emphasizes both individuals and the whole, and makes explicit the uniqueness, conscience, free will, dignity, and openness to human flourishing. This requires appropriate communication about and participation in matters which affect people’s life, and makes it essential to cooperate for the common good of the business firm and the society

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