Due to several recent scandals, Business Ethics is now firmly embraced. Whereas in the 1980s and early 1990s there were serious doubts expressed about combining ethics and business, the link now seems to have become self-evident. Fundamental questions about the tensions between business and ethics however continue to receive little attention. In this paper, based upon a debate concerning the Fair Trade company, the strains between business and ethics are analyzed. The article shows how several great thinkers have already considered this tension. Three ways to conceptualize the tension between business and ethics have been distinguished, and these are outlined in the paper. In one approach, ethical entrepreneurship, value tensions are perceived as a source for entrepreneurship. However, this approach presupposes pluralistic ethics. Thinking only in terms of black and white is seen as blocking the ability to adequately handle the tension between business and ethics. Opting for ‘‘ethical entrepreneurship’’, as by Fair Trade, has fundamental and important consequences for the company’s communication policy.
KeywordsEconomic Growth Business Ethic Fair Trade Fundamental Question Communication Policy
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Hoijting, J. 2004Van geitenwollen sokken naar designs jeans. Over duurzaamheid en marketingKluwerAmsterdamGoogle Scholar
- Kaptein, M., Wempe, J. 2002The Balanced Company: A theory of Corporate IntegrityOxford University PressOxford/New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Mandeville, B. de: 1714, The Fable of the Bees. Hart, P. (ed.). (Hardmondsworth, Penguin)Google Scholar
- Mees, R.: 1919, De moraal in het handelsleven, Amsterdam/Antwerp, Wereld Bibliotheek,. Reprinted in Ondernemen en ethiek, a publication of the 203rd general meeting of De Nederlandsche Maatschappij voor Nijverheid en Handel [The Netherlands Society for Trade and Industry], 1984Google Scholar
- Van Oosterhout, J., B. Wempe and T. Van Willigenburg: 2004, ‘Rethinking Organizational Ethics: A Plea for Pluralism’, Journal of Business Ethics, 55, 387–395Google Scholar
- Smith, A.: 1776, The Wealth of Nations, London: Everyman’s Library. 1975 Reprint, p. 13Google Scholar
- The Economist: 2005, The Good Company. A Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility, January 22ndGoogle Scholar
- Walzer, M.: 1983, Spheres of Justice: A defense of Pluralism and Equality, Basic Books, 2004Google Scholar
- Wempe, J.: 1998, Market and Morality: Business Ethics and the Dirty and Many Hands Dilemma, dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Eburon, DelftGoogle Scholar
- Wempe, J. and T. Donaldson: 2004, ‘The practicality of Pluralism: Redrawing the Simple Picture of Bipolarism and Compliance in Business Ethics’ in G. G. Brenkert (ed.), Corporate Integrity and Accountability, Sage, p. 25Google Scholar