Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 209–225 | Cite as

Tone-at-the-Top Lessons from Abrahamic Justice

  • Dov FischerEmail author
  • Hershey H. Friedman
Original Paper


Abraham’s “leadership by example” provides a template for business leaders to implement a tone at the top based on a balance of tzedek (righteousness) and mishpat (legal judgement). The former expresses the generosity of spirit required of leaders, while the latter expresses the sound judgement in conformity with both ethics and enacted law. We relate the two constructs to several contemporary theories of justice and jurisprudence. We also relate the development of Abrahamic Justice in the Jewish tradition from antiquity through Maimonides in the middle ages. We draw insight from this tradition to answer a contemporary business ethics question: Do corporate managers violate their fiduciary duty to shareholders if they refuse to engage in legal tax avoidance?


Abrahamic Justice Civil religion Corporate tax avoidance Distributive justice Integrated reporting Justice as fairness Maimonides Spirit of the law 



We thank Michael Kraten for sharing his insights on Integrated Reporting. We also thank Dan Tinkelman, Alan Reinstein, Satina Williams, Father Patrick Flanagan, Ed Freeman (the editor), three anonymous reviewers, and participants at the 2015 International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference at St. John’s University and participants at the 2017 American Accounting Association mid-Atlantic Region Meeting in Artlington, Virginia. Support for this project was provided by a PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York. Author Dov Fischer thanks his wife Ronit for her support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Murray Koppelman School of BusinessBrooklyn College of the City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA

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