Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 333–352 | Cite as

Business and the Polis: What Does it Mean to See Corporations as Political Actors?

Article

Abstract

This article addresses the recent call in business ethics literature for a better understanding of corporations as political actors or entities. It first gives an overview of recent attempts to examine classical issues in business ethics through a political lens. It examines different ways in which theorists with an interest in the normative analysis of business practices and institutions could find it desirable and fruitful to use a political lens. This article presents a distinction among four views of the relations between corporations and politics: corporations as distributive agents, corporations as political communities, corporate practices and policies as citizenship issues, and corporations as active participants in the political process. This article finishes with an examination of three challenges that need to be overcome by the theory of the firm as a political actor.

Keywords

business and government relations business and politics corporations and citizenship organizations political philosophy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CRÉUM)MontréalCanada

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