Corporate Ethics and Management Theory

  • Horst Steinmann
  • Andreas Georg Scherer
Part of the Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy book series (SEEP)


In what follows we try to develop a concise line of reasoning concerning a conceptual clarification of the relationship between corporate ethics and management. Our proposal will draw from philosophical considerations developed by philosophers of the methodical constructivism of the so-called Erlangen-School (Lorenzen 1968, 1981, 1982, 1987a, 1987b, Kambartel 1989). We use the term “corporate ethics” instead of (the more fuzzy term) “business ethics” to stress that the focus of our paper is the firm and not the economy as a whole. The word “management” denotes all actions which are directed towards the (purposeful) co-ordination of corporate activities by which the transformation of goods and services is accomplished (i.e., procurement, operations, logistics, marketing etc.). These actions are traditionally grouped in five “managerial functions” under the headings of (1) planning, (2) organising, (3) staffing, (4) leading (directing), and (5) control (Koontz/O’Donnell 1964). Management theory then is the body of knowledge about managerial functions developed to describe, understand (or explain) and improve management practice. Note that this definition implies an approach to the field of management which is guided by the theory of action (instead, e.g., by systems theory).


Business Ethic Management Theory Corporate Strategy Discourse Ethic Ethic Management 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albert, H.: Treatise on Critical Reason, Princeton (University Press) 1985.Google Scholar
  2. Original: Traktat über kritische Vernunft, Tübingen (J. C. B. Mohr [P. S iebeck]) 1980.Google Scholar
  3. Alvesson, M., Willmott, H.: Making Sense of Management. A Critical Introduction, London (Sage) 1996.Google Scholar
  4. Apel, K. -O.: Towards a Transformation of Philosophy, London (Routledge & Kegan Paul) 1980. Original: Transformation der Philosophie, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1973.Google Scholar
  5. Arrow, K. J., Debreu, G.: “Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy”, Econometrica, 22 (1954), pp. 265–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arrow, K. J., Hahn, F.: General Competitive Analysis, San Francisco (HoldenDay) 1971.Google Scholar
  7. Boddewyn, J. J.: “The Legitimacy of International-Business Political Behaviour”, The International Trade Journal, IX, No. 1 (1995), pp. 143–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christenson, Ch.: “Proposal for a Program of Empirical Research into the Properties of Triangles”, Decision Sciences, 4 (1976), pp. 631–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Daft, R. L., Lewin, A. J.: “Where Are the Theories of the’New’ Organisational Forms? An Editorial Essay”, Organisational Science, 4 (1993), pp. i-vi.Google Scholar
  10. Dalton, D. R., Metzger, M. B., Hill, J. W.: “The “New” U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines: A Wake-Up Call for Corporate America”, Academy of Management Executive, 8 (1994), pp. 7–13Google Scholar
  11. Deetz, St.: Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization: Developments in Communication and the Politics of Everyday Life, Albany (State University of New York Press) 1992.Google Scholar
  12. Deetz, St.: Transforming Communication, Transforming Business, Cresskill, N.J. (Hampton Press) 1995.Google Scholar
  13. Dobbing, J. (Ed.): Infant Feeding. Anatomy of a Controversy 1973–1984, London 1988.Google Scholar
  14. Dunfee, Th. W.: “On the Synergistic, Interdependent Relationship of Business Ethics and Law”, American Business Law Journal, 34 (Winter 1996) 2, pp. 318–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eisenberg, J. A.: The Limits of Reason. Indeterminacy in Law, Education, and Morality, New Brunswick (Transaction Publishers) 1992.Google Scholar
  16. Ferrell, O. C., Leclair, D. T., Ferrell, L.: “The Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations: A Framework for Ethical Comliance”, Journal of Business Ethics, 17 (1998), pp. 353–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ford, R. C., Fottler, M. D.: “Empowerment: A Matter of Degree”, Academy of Management Review, 9 (1995), pp. 21–31.Google Scholar
  18. Foucault, M.: Power/Knowledge, Brighton (Harvester Press) 1980.Google Scholar
  19. Freeman, R. E.: Strategic Management. A Stakeholder Approach, Boston (Pitman) 1984.Google Scholar
  20. Ghoshal, S., Moran, P.: “Bad for Practice: A Critique of the Transaction Cost Theory”, Academy of Management Review, 21 (1996), pp. 13–47.Google Scholar
  21. Giddens, A.: The Constitution of Society. Outline of the Theory of Structuration, Cambridge, Mass. (Polity Press), 1984.Google Scholar
  22. Giddens, A.: Kritische Theoie der Spätmoderne, Wien (Passagen Verlag) 1992.Google Scholar
  23. Greider, W.: One World, Ready or Not. The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, New York (Simon & Schuster) 1997.Google Scholar
  24. Haas, R. D.: “Ethics — A Global Business Challenge”, Vital Speeches of the Day, 60, No. 16 (1994), pp. 506–509.Google Scholar
  25. Habermas, J.: The Theory of Communicative Action. Volume 2, Cambridge (Polity Press) 1987. Original: Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, Band 2, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1981.Google Scholar
  26. Habermas, J.: “Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification”, in: J. Habermas: Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, Cam- bridge, Mass. (The Mit Press) 1990, pp. 43–115. Original: “Diskursethik. Notizen zu einem Begründungsprogramm”, in: J. Habermas: Moralbewuβtsein und kommunikatives Handeln, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1983, pp. 53–125.Google Scholar
  27. Habermas, J.: “Remarks on Discourse Ethics”, in: J. Habermas: Justification and Application. Remarks on Discourse Ethics, Cambridge, Mass. (The Mit Press) 1993, pp. 19–112.Google Scholar
  28. Original: “Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik”, in: J. Habermas: Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1991, p. 119–226.Google Scholar
  29. Hood, N., Young, St.: The Economics of Multinational Enterprise, London (Longman) 1979:Google Scholar
  30. Hosmer, L. T.: “Why be Moral? A Different Rationale for Managers”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 4 (1994), pp. 191–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hosmer, L. T.: “Why be Moral? A Reply to Shaw and Corvino”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 7 (1997), pp. 137–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Janich, P.: Was ist Wahrheit?, München (Beck) 1996.Google Scholar
  33. Kambartel, F.: “Vernunft: Kriterium oder Kultur?”, in: F. Kambartel: Philosophie der humanen Welt, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1989, pp. 27–43.Google Scholar
  34. Kambartel, F.: “Die Vernunft und das Allgemeine. Zum Verständnis rationaler Sprache und Praxis”, in: V. Gerhard, N. Herold (Eds.): Perspektiven des Perspektivismus. Gedenkschriftzum Tode Friedrich Kaulbachs, Würzburg (Königshausen und Neumann) 1992, pp. 265–277.Google Scholar
  35. Kambartel, F.: Wahrheit und Begründung, Erlangen/Jena (Palm & Enke) 1997.Google Scholar
  36. Kambartel, F.: “Vernunftkultur und Kulturrelativismus. Bemerkungen zu verschiedenen Problemen des Verstehens und Begründens”, in: H. Steinmann, A. G. Scherer (Eds.): Zwischen Universalismus und Relativismus. Philosophische Grundlagenprobleme des Interkulturellen Managements, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1999, pp. 212–220.Google Scholar
  37. Koontz, H., O’Donnell, C.: Principles of Management, New York (Mc GrawHill) 3rd ed. 1964.Google Scholar
  38. Kogut, B.: “Designing Global Strategies. Profiting from Operational Flexibility”, Sloan Management Review, 27 (1985), pp. 27–38.Google Scholar
  39. Korten, D. C.: When Corporations Rule the World, West Hartford (Kumarian)Google Scholar
  40. Kuhn, J. W.: “Ethics in Business: What Managers Practice that Economists Ignore”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 2 (1992), pp. 305–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lawler, E. E.: The Ultimate Advantage. Creating the High-Involvement Organisation, San Francisco (Jossey-Bass) 1992.Google Scholar
  42. Löhr, A.: Unternehmensethik und Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Untersuchungen zur theoretischen Stützung der Unternehmenspraxis, Stuttgart (M&P) 1991.Google Scholar
  43. Lorenzen, P.: “Methodical Thinking”, in: P. Lorenzen: Constructive Philosophy, Amherst, Mass. (The University of Massachusetts Press) 1987, pp. 3–29. Original: “Methodisches Denken”, in: P. Lorenzen: Methodisches Denken, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1968, pp. 24–59.Google Scholar
  44. Lorenzen, P.: “Political Anthropology”, in: P. Lorenzen: Constructive Philosophy, Amherst, Mass. (The University of Massachusetts Press) 1987, pp. 42–55. Original: “Politische Anthropologie”, in: O. Schwemmer (Ed.): Vernunft, Handlung und Erfahrung, München (Beck) 1981, pp. 104–116.Google Scholar
  45. Lorenzen, P.: “Ethics and the Philosophy of Science”, in: D. E. Christensen et al. (Eds.): Contemporary German Philosophy, Volume 1, University Park (The Pennsylvania State University Press) 1982, pp. 1–14.Google Scholar
  46. Lorenzen, P. (1987a): Constructive Philosophy, Amherst (The University of Massachusetts Press) 1987.Google Scholar
  47. Lorenzen, P. (1987b): Lehrbuch der konstruktiven Wissenschaftstheorie, Mannheim (Bi-Wissenschaftsverlag) 1987.Google Scholar
  48. Lorenzen, P.: “Philosophische Fundierungsprobleme einer Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik”, in: H. Steinmann, A. LÖHr (Eds.): Unternehmensethik, Stuttgart (Poeschel) 1989, pp. 25–58.Google Scholar
  49. Lueken, G.-L.: “Incommensurability, Rules of Argumentation, and Anticipation”, in: F. H. Van Eemeren et al. (Eds.): Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Argumentation, Amsterdam (SicSat) 1991, pp. 244–252.Google Scholar
  50. Lueken, G.-L.: Inkommensurabilität als Problem rationalen Argumentierens, Stuttgart-Bad-Cannstatt (Frommann-Holzboog) 1992.Google Scholar
  51. Lyotard, J.-F.: The Postmodern Condition, Manchester (Manchester University Press) 1984.Google Scholar
  52. Martin, H.-P., Schumann, H.: Die Globalisierungsfalle. Der Angriff auf Demokratie und Wohlstand, Reinbek bei Hamburg (Rowohlt) 1996.Google Scholar
  53. Mintzberg, H.: The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, New York (Free Press) 1994.Google Scholar
  54. Mintzberg, H., Waters, J. A.: “Of Strategies, Deliberate and Emergent”, Strategic Management Journal, 6 (1985), pp. 257–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mittelstrass, J.: “Changing Concepts of the A Priori”, in: R. E. Butts, J. Hintikka (Eds.): Historical and Philosophical Dimensions of Logic. Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht, (D. Reidel), 1977 pp. 3–128.Google Scholar
  56. Mittelstrass, J.: “Scientific Rationality and Its Reconstruction”, in: N. Rescher (Ed.): Reason and Rationality in Natural Science, Lanham, Md (University Press of America) 1985, pp. 83–102.Google Scholar
  57. Mohrman, S. A., Cohen, S. G., Mohrman, A. M. Jr.: Designing Team-Based Organisations. New Forms for Knowledge Work. San Francisco (Jossey-Bass) 1995.Google Scholar
  58. Monks, R. A. G., Minow, N.: Corporate Governance, Cambridge, Mass. (Basil Blackwell) 1995.Google Scholar
  59. Nagel, I., Swenson, W. M.: “The Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Corporations: Their Development, Theoretical Underpinnings, and Some Thoughts About Their Future”, Washington University Law Quarterly, 71, 2 (1993) pp. 205–259.Google Scholar
  60. Nonaka, I., Takeuchi, H.: The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, New York (Oxford University Press) 1995.Google Scholar
  61. Ohmae, K.: The End of the Nation State. The Rise of Regional Economics, New York (Free Press) 1995.Google Scholar
  62. Orts, E. W.: “The Legitimacy of Multinational Corporations”, in: L. E. Mitchell (Ed.): Progressive Corporate Law, Boulder (Westview Press) 1995, pp. 247–279.Google Scholar
  63. Osterloh, M., Frey, B.: “Managing Innovation: Crowding Effects in the Theory of the Firm”, in: Institut FüR Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung: Diskussionsbeitrag Nr. 31, Zürich (Universität Zürich) 1997.Google Scholar
  64. Paine, L. S. (1994a): “Organising with Integrity”, Harvard Business Review, 72 (March-April 1994), pp. 106–117.Google Scholar
  65. Paine, L. S. (1994b): “Law, Ethics, and Managerial Judgement”, The Journal of Legal Studies Education, 12 (Summer/Fall 1994) 2, pp. 153–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Paine, L. S.: “Moral Thinking in Management: An Essential Capability”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 6 (1996), pp. 477–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pfeffer, J. : Competitive Advantage Through People: Unleashing the Power of the Work Force, Boston (Harvard Business School Press) 1994.Google Scholar
  68. Preble, J. F.: “Towards a Comprehensive System of Strategic Control”, Journal of Management Studies, 29 (1992), pp. 391–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Preble, J. F.: “The Role of’Good Conversation’ in Strategic Control”, Journal ofManagement Studies, 33 (1996), pp. 381–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sagal, P. T.: “Paul Lorenzen’s Constructivism and the Recovery of Philosophy”, Synthesis Philosophica, 3 (1987), pp. 173–178.Google Scholar
  71. Scherer, A. G., Dowling, M. J.: “Towards a Reconciliation of the TheoryPluralism in Strategic Management - Incommensurability and the Constructivist Approach of the Erlangen-School”, Advances in Strategic Management, 12A (1995), pp. 195–247.Google Scholar
  72. Scherer, A. G., Steinmann, H.: “Some Remarks on the Problem of Incommensurability in Organisation Studies”, paper presented at the Academy of Management annual meeting, Boston, Mass., Aug. 1997.Google Scholar
  73. Schneider, D.: “Unternehmensethik und Gewinnprinzip in der Betriebswirtschaftslehre”, Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung, 42 (1990), pp. 869–891.Google Scholar
  74. Schreyögg, G., Steinmann, H.: “Strategic Control. A New Perspective”, Academy of Management Review, 12 (1987), pp. 91–103.Google Scholar
  75. Simons, R.: Levers of Control - How Managers Use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal, Boston, Mass. (Harvard Business School Press) 1995.Google Scholar
  76. Solomon, R. C.: “Corporate Roles, Personal Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach to Business Ethics”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 2 (1992), pp. 317–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Spender, J.-C.: “Strategic Theorizing: Expanding the Agenda”, Advances in Strategic Management, 8 (1992), pp. 3–32.Google Scholar
  78. Spender, J.-C.: “Villain, Victim or Visionary?: The Insights and Flaws in F. W. Taylor’s Ideas”, in: J.-C. Spender, H. J. Kijne (Eds.): Scientific Management. Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Gift to the World? Boston/Dordrecht/London (Kluwer) 1996, pp. 1–31.Google Scholar
  79. Steinmann, H., Kustermann, B.: “Die Managementlehre auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Steuerungsparadigma”, Journal fiir Betriebswirtschaft, 46, No. 5–6 (1996), pp. 265–281.Google Scholar
  80. Steinmann, H., Kustermann, B.: “Management Theory on the Way to a New Paradigm? Critical Reflections on the Concept of Robert Simons”, in: S. Urban (Ed.): Europe’s Economic Future, Wiesbaden (Gabler) (in print).Google Scholar
  81. Steinmann, H., Löhr, A.: Grundlagen der Unternehmensethik, Stuttgart (Poeschel) 2nd ed. 1994.Google Scholar
  82. Steinmann, H., Löhr, A.: “A Republican Concept of Corporate Ethics”, in S. Urban (Ed.): Europe’s Challenges. Economic Efficiency and Social Solidarity, Wiesbaden (Gabler) 1996, pp. 21–60:Google Scholar
  83. Steinmann, H., Olbrich, Th.: “Business Ethics in U.S.-Corporations. Some Preliminary Results from an Interview Series”, Journal für Betriebswirtschaft, 45 (1995), pp. 317–334.Google Scholar
  84. Steinmann, H., Olbrich, Th.: “Ethik-Management: Integrierte Steuerung ethischer und ökonomischer Prozesse”, in: G. Blickle (Ed.): Ethik in Organisationen, Göttingen (Verlag für angewandte Phsychologie) 1998, pp. 95–115.Google Scholar
  85. Steinmann, H., Scherer, A. G.: “Lernen durch Argumentieren: Theoretische Probleme konsensorientierten Handelns”, in: Albach, H. (Ed.). Globale Soziale Marktwirtschaft. Ziele - Wege - Akteure. Festschrift für Santiago Garcia Ecchevaria, Wiesbaden (Gabler) 1994, pp. 263–285.Google Scholar
  86. Steinmann, H., Scherer, A. G.: “Corporate Ethics and Global Business. Philosophical Considerations on Intercultural Management”, in: B. N. Kumar, H. Steinmann (Eds.): Ethics in International Business, Berlin/New York (De Gruyter) 1998, pp. 13–46.Google Scholar
  87. Steinmann, H., Scherer, A. G.: “Interkulturelles Management zwischen Universalismus und Relativismus. Kritische Anfragen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre an die Philosophie”, in: H. Steinmann, A. G. Scherer (Eds.): Zwischen Universalismus und Relativismus. Philosophische Grundlagenprobleme des Interkulturellen Managements, Frankfurt a. M. (Suhrkamp) 1999, pp. 23–87.Google Scholar
  88. Steinmann, H., Schreyg, G.: Management. Grundlagen der Unternehmensführung, Wiesbaden (Gabler) 4th ed. 1997.Google Scholar
  89. Steinmann, H., Zerfaββ, A.: “Privates Unternehmertum und öffentliches Interesse”, in: G. R. Wagner (Ed.): Betriebswirtschaft und Umweltschutz, Stuttgart (Schäffer-Poeschel) 1993, pp. 3–26.Google Scholar
  90. Stone, Ch. D.: Where the Law Ends, New York (Harper and Row) 1975.Google Scholar
  91. Summers, R. S., Clermont, K. M., Hillman, R. A., Johnson, S. L., Barcelo, J. J. Iii, Provone, D. M.: Law: Its Nature, Functions, and Limits, St. Paul (West Publishing) 3rd ed. 1986.Google Scholar
  92. Thurow, L. C.: The Future of Capitalism. How Today’s Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow’s World, New York (William Morrow & Co) 1996.Google Scholar
  93. Ulrich, P.: Transformation der ökonomischen Vernunft. Fortschrittsperspektiven der modernen Industriegesellschaft, Bern/Stuttgart (Haupt) 1976.Google Scholar
  94. Ulrich, P.: Integrative Wirtschaftsethik. Grundlagen einer lebensdienlichen Ökonomie, Stuttgart/Wien (Haupt) 1997.Google Scholar
  95. U.S. Department Of Commerce: Model Business Principles, New York Times, May 27, 1995, p. 17, Google Scholar
  96. U.S. Department Of State: Promoting the Model Business Principles, Publication 10486, Released June 1997, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, rights/business principles.html Google Scholar
  97. Warren, B.: Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism, London (Nlb) 1980.Google Scholar
  98. Yaeger, P. C.: The Limits of Law. Public Regulation of Private Pollution, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Horst Steinmann
  • Andreas Georg Scherer

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations