, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 211-228

Foundations and Applications for Contractualist Business Ethics

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Contractualism is one of the most promising ‘centers of gravity’ in business ethics. In this guest editorial we provide a concise roadmap to the field, sketching contractualism’s historic and disciplinary antecedents, the basic argumentative structure of the contract model, and its boundary conditions. We also sketch two main dimensions along which contributions to the contractualist tradition can be positioned. The first dimension entails positive versus normative theorizing – does a given contribution analyze the world as it is or how it ought to be? The second dimension involves four different levels of analysis that are commonly employed in contractualist business ethics: the nano, micro, meso, and macro levels. We then proceed to position the articles comprising this special issue along these two dimensions.

Pursey Heugens is an Associate Professor of Business-Society Management at RSM Erasmus University. He received his Ph. D. from the same school. His current research interests include comparative corporate governance and cognitive transaction cost theory.
J. (Hans) van Oosterhout holds a Ph. D. from RSM Erasmus University and is currently an Associate Professor in the Business-Society Management Department of the same school. His research involves the positive and normative theory of organizations and institutions, with a current emphasis on corporate governance and comparative economic and political organization.
Muel Kaptein is a Professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management at the Business-Society Management Department of RSM Erasmus University in The Netherlands. He received his Ph. D in management from the Erasmus University. His current research interests include the management of ethics, the ethics of management and the measurement of ethics.