Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 27, Issue 1–2, pp 79–88 | Cite as

Values in Decision-Making Processes: Systematic Structures of J. Habermas and N. Luhmann for the Appreciation of Responsibility in Leadership

  • Eberhard Schnebel


"Ethical Leadership" in modern multicultural corporations is first the consideration of different personal and cultural value systems in decision-making processes. Second, it is the assignment of responsibility either to individual or organisational causalities. The task of this study is to set the stage for a distinction between rational entities and the arbitrary preferences of individuals in economic decision making processes.

Defining rational aspects of behaviour in economics will lead to the formal structures of organisational systems, which are independent of concrete but varying “values”. Luhmann's “Theory of systems of communication” describes the internal dynamic forces of economic communication processes in terms of formal structures. On the other hand Habermas' “Theory of discourse” integrates the previous relationship between individual subjectivity and rational behaviour. Habermas gives an indication of how to separate subjective values and meaning from rational arguments in rational communication processes. The translation of these theoretical structures into practical applications for decision making processes and decision taking acts links the ethical, or value-oriented, context precisely to both individual and organisational areas of responsibility.

business ethics communication discourse ethics Habermas implicit contracts Luhmann multicultural organisations organisations values 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eberhard Schnebel
    • 1
  1. 1.Württemberger HypoStuttgart

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