Confronting morality in markets

Norman E. Bowie, Thomas W. Dunfee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


When an organization is pressured to respond to moral expressions in capital, consumer and labor markets, it faces a dilemma of how to respond. Should Shell have given in to Greenpeace in deciding how to dispose of the Brent Spar Oil Rig? Should Cracker Barrel give in to pressures to fire homosexual employees? Firms should consider the nature of the moral expressions pressuring them in deciding how to respond. Moral expressions can be divided into three descriptive categories: Benign, Disputed and Problematic. Each carries different implications for corporate action and in some cases will justify corporate resistance to moral expressions by stakeholders. In order to appropriately respond to moral pressures, firms should first engage in a process of discovery aimed at identifying moral pressures relevant to the firm's missions and objectives and then engage in a process of justification concerning their responses. Such a conclusion is consistent with important trends of contemporary thought in ethics and political philosophy and is strongly supported by Kantian analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-393
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


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