A notable feature of paradox is recognition that seemingly contradictory terms are inextricably intertwined and interrelated—holding out the hope that something new can be learned from the cognitive tension contained within. Aram has characterized the central concern of the business and society field as the paradox of interdependent relations. Our study argues that this and related paradoxes can be addressed by engaging with others and trying to gain shared insight via an interactive, developmental, exploratory sensemaking process that can inform the (...) governance of stakeholder networks. We advocate multistakeholder learning dialogues (MSLDs) as a means for both scholars and practitioners to construct meanings that can guide joint efforts to cope with messy problems that help shape complex, paradoxical relationships within stakeholder networks. (shrink)
This paper builds on London and Hart’s critique that Prahalad’s best-selling book prompted a unilateral effort to find a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Prahalad’s instrumental, firm-centered construction suggests, perhaps unintentionally, a buccaneering style of business enterprise devoted to capturing markets rather than enabling new socially entrepreneurial ventures for those otherwise trapped in conditions of extreme poverty. London and Hart reframe Prahalad’s insight into direct global business enterprise toward “creating a fortune with the base of the pyramid” rather (...) than at the BoP. This shift in language requires a recalibration of strategic focus, we argue, and will necessitate implementation of “moral imagination” to formulate new mental models that can frame the possibility of local entrepreneurs working collaboratively and discursively with development partners drawn from civil society, corporate, and government sectors. Successful partnerships will arise from interactive processes of emergent, co-creative learning within a shared problem domain or “community of practice”. We call attention to three related pluralist framings of situated learning within such communities of practice: decentered stakeholder networks; global action networks; and a focus on “faces and places” as a cognitive lens to humanize and locally situate diverse inhabitants within base of the pyramid partnership projects. (shrink)
This paper applies Wempe’s (2005, Business Ethics Quarterly 15(1), 113–135) boundary conditions that define the external and internal logics for contractarian business ethics theory, as a system of argumentation for evaluating current or prospective institutional arrangements for arriving at the “good life,” based on the principles and practices of social justice. It does so by showing that a more dynamic, process-oriented, and pluralist ‘dialogic twist’ to Donaldson and Dunfee’s (2003, ‘Social Contracts: sic et non’, in P. Heugens, H. van Oosterhout (...) and J. Vromen (eds.), The Social Institutions of Capitalism: Evolution and Design of Social Contracts (Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd.) pp. 109–126; 1999, Ties that Bind: A Social Contracts Approach to Business Ethics (Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press); 1995, Economics and Philosophy 11(1), 85–112; 1994, Academy of Management Review 19(2), 252–284.) integrated social contracting theory (ISCT) of economic ethics will further develop this promising and influential approach to moral reasoning, ethical decision-making, and stakeholder governance. This evolutionary, interactive learning-based model of ethical norm generation via dialogic stakeholder engagement is particularly appropriate within economic communities that are experiencing value conflict and pressures for institutional change. (shrink)
Varying conceptions of and purposes for dialogue exist. Recent dialogic theorists and advocates urge exploration of forms of dialogue for learning and applying relational responsibilities within stakeholder networks. A related phenomenon has been the recent emergence of multi-stakeholder dialogues that involve parties significantly affected by major issues or concerns, such as environmental sustainability, that have complex and wide-spread implications. The extent to which these recent multi-stakeholder dialogues assume anything resembling the relationship or caring and the learning potentials of dialogic goals (...) and processes suggested by recent advocates, however, can certainly be questioned. This article explores potential directions for research on enhanced forms of multi-stakeholder dialogues that emphasize goals of dialogic learning, relationship building, and business social responsiveness within a more reflective practice of corporate citizenship. Many issues and questions concerning appropriate antecedents, processes, and outcomes for these enhanced multi-stakeholder dialogues are raised and discussed. (shrink)
This paper draws upon recent insights into the emergence of issue-focused stakeholder networks which engage in a co-creative process for constructing mutual value. It applies these insights to evaluate Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott’s “21st Century Leadership” effort to impose an ethical supply chain control system in China. The paper concludes that further institutional innovation is needed to realize the potential of 21st century transformational leadership at Wal-Mart and elsewhere.
This paper shows how a student honor code can be developed through a process of personal reflection and dialogic inquiry among students in a Business & Society class. This “inside out” learning process enables students to build an honor code organically by identifying shared core values that shape ethical practices, rather than through a top down intervention by faculty or administrators. The shared enterprise of crafting a student honor code becomes an exercise of moral imagination that promotes ethical development through (...) a social contracting process of clarifying and buying in to ethical norms. (shrink)
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. (shrink)