Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 287–295

Are Organisation Researchers too Obsessed with the Economic Responsibility of the Firm?


    • Corporate Governance and Social, Responsibility Research Unit, Graduate School of BusinessCurtin University of Technology

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-0008-3

Cite this article as:
Galbreath, J. J Bus Ethics (2006) 65: 287. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-0008-3


The original intent of business education in America focused on the development of professional managers who would look after the interests of society. As economic and shareholder theories influenced business education, firm performance became the manager’s top – if not only – priority. The economic responsibility of the firm also appears to be dominating scholarly interest in organisations as well. However, business firms constitute part of the fabric of society and closer attention should be paid by organisation researchers to the social responsibilities of the firm. In doing so, a more balanced research approach can be achieved. In this article, we give evidence that research within the study of the organisation, specifically in the field of management, has predominately turned its attention to the economic responsibility of the firm. We close by demonstrating that other fields within organisation research also appear to be favouring the study of performance and we offer suggestions as to how scholars might better address the firm’s role in society beyond its economic responsibility.


The business firmsocial issueseconomic responsibilitiesorganisation researcheconomic and social goals
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© Springer 2006