Journal of Business Ethics 114 (1):171-182 (2013)

Growing inequality and its implications for democratic polity suggest that corporate social responsibility has not proved itself in twenty-first century business, largely as it lacks clear criteria of demarcation for businesses to follow. Today the problem is viewed by many commentators as an ethical challenge to business itself. In response to this challenge, we begin by examining Porter and Kramer’s :64–77, 2011) call for a shift from a social responsibility to a shared value framework and the need to respond to the problem of the ‘separation thesis’ between business and ethics :89–118, 1996; Harris and Freeman, Bus Ethics Q 18:541–548, 2008). We identify the eighteenth century economist and philosopher Adam Smith in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments as a source for an ethical approach to business. Building on his central concept of ‘sympathy’, we introduce the idea of the Impartial Spectator Test, which we argue builds on traditional stakeholder perspectives and which provides an objective route to ethical criteria of demarcation. We conclude by assessing how this approach adds to the existing debate around social responsibility and shared value
Keywords Adam Smith  Corporate social responsibility  Impartial Spectator Test  Separation thesis  Shared value
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1335-1
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References found in this work BETA

On Ethics and Economics.Amartya Sen - 1989 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 51 (4):722-723.
The Impossibility of the Separation Thesis.Jared D. Harris & R. Edward Freeman - 2008 - Business Ethics Quarterly 18 (4):541-548.
A Conceptual Model of Corporate Moral Development.R. Eric Reidenbach & Donald P. Robin - 1991 - Journal of Business Ethics 10 (4):273 - 284.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Benefit Corporation and Corporate Social Responsibility.Janine S. Hiller - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 118 (2):287-301.

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