Corporate Governance and Ethics

Corporate Governance and Ethics

An Aristotelian Perspective

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Alejo José G. Sison

Corporate Governance and Ethics is an illuminating and practical reading of Aristotle’s Politics for today’s corporate directors. With a deft synthesis of ethics, economics and politics, Alejo Sison elevates the discussion of corporate governance out of the realm of abstract rules and structures into a more effective form of Aristotelian politics. He argues that corporate governance is a human practice where subjective, ethical conditions outweigh the mastery of techniques, since the firm is not a mere production function but, above all, a community of workers. Corporate governance issues are discussed in a holistic fashion, using international case studies to embed the discussion in environments defined by their economic, legal and cultural systems. One of the author’s key messages is that reform starts with the ethical and political education of directors.

Chapter 6: A Few Good Men?

Alejo José G. Sison

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, corporate governance, economics and finance, corporate governance, financial economics and regulation, politics and public policy, leadership


Let us now consider aristocratic and oligarchical corporate governance regimes. We may recall from Aristotle’s Politics that aristocracies and oligarchies are similar because, in both of them, only a few people rule; on the other hand, they differ from each other in that aristocracies are a form of ‘true’ or ‘constitutional’ rules wherein the common good presides, while oligarchies are ‘defective’ or ‘perverted’ rules in which private interests predominate (Pltcs, 1279a–b). From the viewpoint of the rulers themselves we are also told that the few who rule in aristocracies are the ‘best’ in terms of merit and qualifications, whereas, in oligarchies, they are simply the wealthier ones. The two may be said to have the same idea of justice, according to which those who are unequal in one respect – say merit or wealth – should be treated unequally in all others, including the distribution of tasks, duties, honours and privileges within the state (Pltcs, 1280a). Perhaps a few good (or wealthy) men would be enough to run not only a state but also a company properly. In the following we shall see how these two models apply to different corporations. Likewise we shall look into their particular strengths and weaknesses. It would be quite surprising to discover just how many of these advantages and disadvantages, dangers and challenges have already been somewhat foreshadowed in Aristotle’s treatise on government, despite the difference in context. I WHEN EVEN TWO IS TOO MUCH: THE SIMON SIBLINGS AT AIMC David...

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