Kantian Business Ethics

Kantian Business Ethics

Critical Perspectives

Edited by Denis G. Arnold and Jared D. Harris

In this original collection of essays, a group of distinguished scholars critically examine the ethical dimensions of business using the Kantian themed business ethics of Norman E. Bowie as a jumping off point. The authors engage Bowie’s influential body of scholarship as well as contemporary themes in business, including topics such as: the normative foundations of capitalism; the applicability of Kantian ethics, virtue ethics, and pragmatism in normative business ethics; meaningful work; managerial ethics; the ethics of high leverage finance capitalism; business ethics and corporate social responsibility; and responsibility for the natural environment. The contributors to this volume include both scholars sympathetic to Bowie’s Kantian business ethics and scholars critical of that perspective.

Chapter 10: Should Every Manager Become A Kantian? The Empirical Evidence and Normative Implications of the Kantian Personality in Organizations

Scott J. Reynolds and Carolyn T. Dang

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, corporate social responsibility


Scott J. Reynolds and Carolyn T. Dang The business world is rife with moral dilemmas. From the WorldCom and Enron debacles, to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and the current credit crisis, there appears to be a dire need for ethics to be better implemented and integrated into the decision-making processes of both managers, and, more generally, of those employed in the business settings. In his attempts to do just that, Norman Bowie has devoted his scholarly career to making ethics a more focal, serious and applicable topic in the business world. In particular, Bowie has sought to bring Kant’s moral philosophy to the ethical forefront by advocating, at times subtly and at other times not so subtly, for managers to become more Kantian in their approach to managing individuals and organizations. In a variety of different formats, he has claimed that business would be better both financially and morally if managers and leaders followed Kantian philosophy more closely than they currently do. Through it all, Bowie has been keenly aware that his audiences – collections of both academics and managers – are cynical and skeptical of such an approach, but nevertheless would be more likely to respond to his call if his carefully constructed arguments were supplemented with rigorously obtained empirical evidence. In keeping with this pattern, we use existing empirical evidence to assess Bowie’s pleas for a more Kantian approach to management. In this case, however, we extend our examination of the literature in ways that Bowie has never done....

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