The Business of Business Is the Human Person

  • Lloyd E. Sandelands
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 43)


I describe an ethic for business administration based on the social tradition of the Catholic Church. I find that much current thinking about business falters for its conceit of truth. Abstractions such as the shareholder-value model contain truth – namely, that business is an economic enterprise to manage for the wealth of its owners. But, as in all abstractions, this truth comes at the expense of falsehood – namely, that persons are assets to deploy on behalf of owners. This last is “wrong” in both senses of the word – it is factually wrong in that persons are far more than business assets, they are supernatural beings, children of God; and it is morally wrong in that it is an injustice to treat them as the former when they are the latter. I draw upon the social tradition of the Catholic Church to recognize that the business of business is not business, but is instead the human person. Following Church teachings, I describe a person-centered ethic of business based upon eight social principles that both correct and enlarge the shareholder-centered ethic of much current business thinking. I discuss implications of this person-centered ethic for business administration.


Business ethics Shareholder-value model Catholic social teaching Human person Person-centered ethics Business management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stephen M. Ross School of Business AdministrationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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