Towards a Set of Quaker Business Values

  • John KimberleyEmail author
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


Much of the literature on Quaker businesses has been complimentary. Emden (Quakers in commerce: a record of business achievement. Samson Low, Marston & Company, 1939) was an early entry into the field, and other writers since have followed suit in praising the Quaker companies for their business behaviour (Windsor, The Quaker enterprise: friends in business. Frederick Muller, 1980; Bradley, Enlightened entrepreneurs. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987; Walvin, The Quakers: money and morals. John Murray, 1997). The literature suggests they have represented all that’s best in company governance. To quote one such commentator, ‘Their produce was sound, their prices fair, their services honest, their word good and their agreements honourable’ (Walvin 1997: p. 210). But what about the Quaker critics? They receive less attention. Perhaps the strongest and most consistent critic has been Michael Rowlinson (Bus Hist 30(4):377–395, 1988; Hum Relat 46(3):299–326, 1993; Hist Stud Ind Relat 6:163–198, 1998; Labour Hist Rev 76(1), 2002). Rowlinson has published a number of papers, as well as co-authoring a book (Smith et al., Reshaping work: the Cadbury experience. Cambridge University Press, 1990), challenging the benevolent interpretation of the Quaker way in business. Much of his attention is given to the Cadbury company, often seen as the epitome of Quaker businesses. This chapter engages with the Rowlinson thesis, using the Cadbury company as a means of challenging his overall perspective. Finally, drawing on early Quaker teaching, a set of business values will be generated that could form the beginnings of a Quaker approach to the world of work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Birmingham City UniversityBirminghamUK

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