Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 417–430 | Cite as

Oikonomia Versus Chrematistike: Learning from Aristotle About the Future Orientation of Business Management

  • Claus Dierksmeier
  • Michael PirsonEmail author


As a philosopher, whose theory about economics and business is systematically connected to a moral and political philosophy, Aristotle provides a rich conceptual framework to reflect upon personal well-being, the wealth of households, and the welfare of the state. Even though Aristotle has mainly been portrayed as an enemy of business, interest in his teachings has been on the rise among management scholars. Several articles have examined Aristotle’s position with regard to current managerial approaches such as total quality management, knowledge management, crisis management, and networking. Even though Aristotle is a constant reference point for business ethics scholars, only rarely have there been attempts to see what consequences his thinking would have for reorienting business philosophy and organizational strategy. In this study, we will outline how Aristotle’s theory of household management can be applied to the management of modern corporations. We argue that conceptions of chrematistike and oikonomia provide a basis to discuss the relationship between business and society and to draw important conclusions for business management.

Key words

Aristotle strategy management sustainability wealth well-being 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arena, C.: 2004, Cause for Success: 10 Companies That Put Profit Second and Came in First (New World Library, Novato, CA).Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle: 1981, ‘Eudemian Ethics (EE)’, in W. Heinemann (ed.), Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 20, trans. H. Rackham (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA)Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle: 1985, Nicomachean Ethics (NE), trans. T. Irwin (Hackett, Indianapolis, IN)Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle: 1994, ‘Rhetoric (Ret)’, in D. C. Stevenson (ed.), The Internet Classics Archives, trans. W. Rhys Roberts, Accessed 18 Sept 2008
  5. Aristotle: 2001, Parts of Animals (PA) (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  6. Aristotle: 2007, Politics (Pol), trans. Benjamin Jowett (eBooks@Adelaide, Adelaide)Google Scholar
  7. Ballou, J.P. and B.A. Weisbrod: 2003, ‘Managerial rewards and the behavior of for-profit, governmental, and non-profit organizations: evidence from the hospital industry’, Journal of Public Economics 87(9/10), 1895-1920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bass, B.M. and B.J. Avolio: 1994, ‘Transformational Leadership and Organizational Culture’, International Journal of Public Administration 17(3/4), 541 - 554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bernstein, J., C. Brocht and M. Spade- Aguilar: 2000, How Much is Enough?: Basic Family Budgets for Working Families (Economic Policy Institute, Washington D.C.).Google Scholar
  10. Biswas-Diener, R., E. Diener and M. Tamir: 2004, ‘The psychology of subjective well-being’, Daedalus 133(2), 18-25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Block, P.: 1996, Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-interest (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  12. Carroll, A.B.: 1991, ‘The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders’, Business Horizons 34(4), 39-48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carroll, A.B.: 1999, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility - Evolution of a Definitional Construct’, Business & Society 38(3), 268-295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carrol, A.B. and A.K. Buchholtz: 2003, Business and Society - Ethics and Stakeholder Management (South-Western, Mason, OH).Google Scholar
  15. Child, J. and S.B. Rodrigues: 2004, ‘Repairing the Breach of Trust in Corporate Governance’, Corporate Governance 12(2), 143-153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Collins, D.: 1987, ‘Aristotle and Business’. Journal of Business Ethics, 6, 567-572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Darling, J.R.: 1994, ‘Crisis Management in International Business’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal 15(8), 3-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis, J.H., F.D. Schoorman and T. Donaldson: 1997, ‘Toward a Stewardship Theory of Management’, Academy of Management Review 22(1), 20-47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Demarest, M.: 1997, ‘Understanding Knowledge Management’, Long Range Planning 30(3), 321–322, 374–384Google Scholar
  20. Demosthenes: 1930, I Olynthiacs, Philippics Minor Public Orations I-XVII and XX (Loeb Classical Library No. 238, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
  21. Diener, E. and M.E.P. Seligman: 2004, ‘Beyond money: Toward and economy of well-being’, Psychological Science in the Public Interest 5(1), 1-31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Donaldson, T.: 2003, ‘Editor’s comments: Taking ethics seriously— A mission now more possible’, Academy of Management Review 28(3), 363-366.Google Scholar
  23. Donaldson, L. and J.H. Davis: 1991, ‘Stewardship Theory or Agency Theory: CEO Governance and Shareholder Returns’, Australian Journal of Management 16(1), 49-66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dyck, B. and R. Kleysen: 2001, ‘Aristotle’s Virtues and Management Thought: An Empirical Exploration of an Integrative Pedagogy’, Business Ethics Quarterly 11(4), 561-574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Easterlin, R.: 2001, ‘Income and Happiness: towards a unified theory’, Economic Journal 111, (July), 465-484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fontrodona, J. and D. Melé: 2002, ‘Philosophy as a Base for Management: An Aristotelian Integrative Proposal’, Philosophy of Management (formerly Reason in Practice) 2(2), 3-9.Google Scholar
  27. Freedman, J.L.: 1978, Happy People: What Happiness Is, Who Has It, and Why? (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York).Google Scholar
  28. Freshfields, Bruckhaus and Deringer: 2006, A Legal Framework for the Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Issues into Institutional Investment (United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), New York).Google Scholar
  29. Giddens, A.: 1991, Modernity and Self - Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Polity Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  30. Gimbel, S.: 2005, ‘Can Corporations Be Morally Responsible? Aristotle, Stakeholders and the Non-Sale of Hershey’, Philosophy of Management (formerly Reason in Practice) 5(3), 23-30.Google Scholar
  31. Hart, S.: 2005, Capitalism at the Crossroads - The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World′s Most Difficult Problems (Wharton School Publishing, Upper Saddle River, NJ).Google Scholar
  32. Hawken, P., A. Lovins and H. Lovins: 2000, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little, Brown & Co., NY).Google Scholar
  33. Hofstede, G., B. Neuijen, D.D. Ohayv and G. Sanders: 1990, ‘Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study across Twenty Cases’, Administrative Science Quarterly 35(2), 286-316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jackson, I. and J. Nelson: 2004, Profits with Principles- seven strategies for delivering value with values (Currency Doubleday, New York).Google Scholar
  35. Jensen, M.C.: 2002, ‘Value maximization, stakeholder theory and the corporate objective function’, Business Ethics Quarterly 12(2), 235-257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kasmir, J.: 1996, The Myth of Mondragon: Cooperatives, Politics, and Working-Class Life in a Basque Town (State University of New York Press, New York).Google Scholar
  37. Kasser, T. and A.C. Ahuvia: 2002, ‘Materialistic values and well-being in business students’, European Journal of Social Psychology 32, (1) 137-146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Koslowski, P.: 1993, Politik und Ökonomie bei Aristoteles, T (Mohr, Tuebingen).Google Scholar
  39. Lane, R.: 1993, ‘Does money buy happiness?’, The Public Interest 113(Fall), 56-65.Google Scholar
  40. Langholm, O.: 1979, Price and Value in the Aristotelian Tradition. A Study in Scholastic Sources (Universitetsforlaget, Bergen).Google Scholar
  41. Lawrence, P.: 2007, ‘Being Human - A Renewed Darwinian Theory of Human Behavior’, Accessed on June 15, 2008
  42. Lawrence, P. and N. Nohria: 2002, Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  43. Layard, R.: 2005, Happiness - Lessons from a new science (Penguin Press, London).Google Scholar
  44. Lowry, S.T.: 1987, The archeology of economic ideas. The classical Greek tradition (Duke University Press, Durham).Google Scholar
  45. Martin, P.: 2005, Making Happy People (Fourth Estate, London).Google Scholar
  46. McWilliams, A. and D. Siegel: 2001, ‘Corporate social responsibility: a theory of the firm perspective’, Academy of Management Review, 26(1), 117-127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Meikle, S.: 1994, Aristotle’s Economic Thought (Clarendon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  48. Mukherji, P.N. and C. Sengupta: 2004, Indigeneity and Universality in Social Science: A South Asian Response (Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA).Google Scholar
  49. Nussbaum, M.: 1990, Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford).Google Scholar
  50. Pava, M.L. and J. Kraus: 1996, ‘The association between corporate social-responsibility and financial performance: The paradox of social cost’, Journal of Business Ethics 15(3), 321-357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Porter, M. and M. Kramer: 2006, ‘Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility’, Harvard Business Review 84(12), 78–91Google Scholar
  52. Putnam, R.D.: 2000, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, New York).Google Scholar
  53. Savitz, A.W. and K. Weber: 2006, The Triple Bottom Line (John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ).Google Scholar
  54. Schein, E.H.: 1985, Organizational culture and leadership: A dynamic view (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  55. Scherer, A.G. and G. Palazzo: 2007, ‘Toward a political conception of corporate social responsibility: business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective’, Academy of Management Review 32(4), 1096-1120.Google Scholar
  56. Schoengrund, C.: 1996, ‘Aristotle and total quality management’, Total Quality Management 7(1), 79-91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schonsheck, J.: 2000, ‘Business Friends: Aristotle, Kant and other Management Theorists on the Practice of Networking’, Business Ethics Quarterly 10(4), 897-910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schumpeter, J.: 1954, History of Economic Analysis (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  59. Smith, N.C.: 2003, ‘Corporate social responsibility: Whether or how?’, California Management Review 45(4), 52-76.Google Scholar
  60. Solomon, R.C.: 1992, Ethics and Excellence: Co-operation and Integrity in Business (Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York).Google Scholar
  61. Solomon, R.C.: 2004, ‘Aristotle, Ethics and Business Organizations’, Organization Studies 25(6), 1021-1043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Soudek, J.: 1952, ‘Aristotle’s Theory of Exchange. An Inquiry into the Origin of the Economic Analysis’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 96, 55-59Google Scholar
  63. Strom, S.: 2007, ‘Businesses Try to Make Money and Save the World’, New York Times, May 6Google Scholar
  64. Sundaram, A.K. and A.C. Inkpen: 2004, ‘The Corporate Objective Revisited’, Organization Science 15(3), 350-363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Swift, T.: 2001, ‘Trust, reputation and corporate accountability to stakeholders’, Business Ethics: A European Review 10(1), 15-26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Waterman, A.S.: 1990, ‘The relevance of Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia for the psychological study of happiness’, Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 10, 39-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wijnberg, N.M.: 2000, ‘Normative Stakeholder Theory and Aristotle: The Link Between Ethics and Politics’, Journal of Business Ethics, 25, 329-342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentStonehill CollegeNorth-EastonU.S.A.
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessFordham UniversityNew YorkU.S.A.
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentGraduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard UniversityCambridgeU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations