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Business Ethics and Internal Social Criticism


The purpose of this paper is to present an understanding of business ethics based on a theory of internal social criticism. Internal social criticism focuses on how members of a business organization debate the meanings of their shared traditions for the purpose of locating and correcting hypocrisy. Organizations have thick moral cultures that allow them to be self-governing moral communities. By considering organizations as interpretive moral communities, I challenge the conventional notion that moral criticism is based primarily on exogenous moral principles delivered by outside critics. I describe an interpretive process of business ethics and develop a theoretical model of internal social criticism. I also propose that organizational identification serves as a mechanism for inducing ethical behavior. I conclude by calling for more research that understands the development and use of existing moral principles inside of organizations.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
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