Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 137–145

Why Firms Should Not Always Maximize Profits


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-9262-7

Cite this article as:
Kolstad, I. J Bus Ethics (2007) 76: 137. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-9262-7


Though corporate social responsibility (CSR) is on the agenda of most major corporations, corporate executives still largely support the view that corporations should maximize the returns to their owners. There are two lines of defence for this position. One is the Friedmanian view that maximizing owner returns is the social responsibility of corporations. The other is a position voiced by many executives, that CSR and profits go together. This article argues that the first position is ethically untenable, while the latter is not supported by empirical evidence. The implication is that there may be good reason for firms to deviate from a maxim of profit maximization.


business ethics corporate social responsibility (CSR) profit maximization special duties 

JEL Codes

D63 M14 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chr. Michelsen InstituteBergenNorway

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