Collective Impact Problems and the Promise for Business Ethics

Journal of Business Ethics Education 17:115-132 (2020)
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“Collective impact problems” refer to situations where there is a collective harm or benefit, but where no single action seems to make a difference one way or the other. Collective impact problems arise when considering several pressing ethical issues in business, such as shareholder and consumer activism, business and climate change, factory farming and animal welfare, fair-trade and sweatshop labor, and corporate philanthropy. Unfortunately, business ethics textbooks do not explicitly deal with collective impact problems and, as such, students may be lacking the theoretical and practical skills necessary to deal with issues of significant moral concern. This paper helps to address this gap by introducing the reader to some collective impact cases in business ethics, detailing the challenges that collective impact problems pose for consequentialist and non-consequentialists alike, and highlighting some of the promising pedagogical benefits of using collective impact cases in a business ethics class.



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Abe Zakhem
Seton Hall University

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