Ethics and Business Law

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corporate responsibility, the common good, checks & balance principle, moral projection principle, moral common ground principle, tenacity, social entrepreneurship


This article attempts to answer the question, “What are the most important ideas from serving as Executive Editor of the five-year history project that culminated in the book, Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience?” The ideas focus on (1) clarifying the phenomenon of tenacity; (2) looking at three foundations of our tenacity; and (3) asking “How fragile is our tenacity?” This article also presents three foundational principles that underlie the American experience of corporate responsibility. First, the Checks & Balances Principle tells us that there are checks and balances in democratic capitalism which give us confidence that the pursuit of economic goals will be moderated for the common good. Second, the Moral Projection Principle shows that there is good reason to consider the corporation not only as a legal person under corporate law but also as a moral person. And, last, the Moral Common Ground Principle reflects that there are shared moral values ascertainable by well-developed consciences in individuals and in corporations. The article concludes with this argument: The tenacity regarding corporate responsibility that has been so characteristic of American capitalism is fragile—calling for serious vigilance if it is to endure.

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BASR retains the copyright. Professor Goodpaster presented this material as a lecture at the Center for Business Ethics, Bentley University, on February 4, 2013. Bentley University then published the lecture as a Monograph, and subsequently as an article in Business and Society Review, Journal of the Center for Business Ethics, Bentley University.

Goodpaster, Kenneth E. 2013. “Tenacity: The American Pursuit of Corporate Responsibility.” Business and Society Review (00453609) 118 (4): 577–605. Malden, MA: Wiley Periodicals, Inc.