Why Virtue Matters
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
and acknowledgements In recent years there has been a flood of articles and books on the role of social capital or trust among economic actors. These works generally conclude that a high degree of trust and trustworthiness is an important key to achieve success in most, if not all, business endeavors. Social capital may be considered a stage in how the human contribution to wealth creation has been understood historically. At first human labor was simply conceived of as a commodity, as manpower. As appreciation for the many unique human characteristics grew, and knowledge about the influence of each of them on worker productivity became clearer, manpower evolved into some sort of branded good that behaved like capital, human capital. Subsequently we came to know of the different modalities of human capital, from intellectual capital to emotional capital, and from cultural capital to social capital. Although social capital as a trait can be attributed to both individuals and groups, it could best be studied perhaps as a feature of the personality of a leader. A problem that one immediately encounters, however, is that social capital is morally ambivalent in its uses and effects: that is, social capital could equally serve the purposes of a mafia clan as those of a philanthropic NGO. If business ethics is to be taken seriously, a way has to be devised in order to take stock of the ‘moral value’ generated by workers and firms. This moral value could then be related to the ends...