Applying metaethical and normative claims of moral relativism to (shareholder and stakeholder) models of corporate governance

West, Andrew (2016) Applying metaethical and normative claims of moral relativism to (shareholder and stakeholder) models of corporate governance. Journal of Business Ethics, 135(2), pp. 199-215.

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There has, in recent decades, been considerable scholarship regarding the moral aspects of corporate governance,and differences in corporate governance practices around the world have been widely documented and investigated. In such a context, the claims associated with moral relativism are relevant. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed consideration of how the metaethical and normative claims of moral relativism in particular can be applied to corporate governance. This objective is achieved, firstly, by reviewing what is meant by metaethical moral relativism and identifying two ways in which the metaethical claim can be assessed. The possibility of a single, morally superior model of corporate governance is subsequently considered through an analysis of prominent works justifying the shareholder and stakeholder approaches, together with a consideration of academic agreement in this area. The paper then draws on the work of Wong (Moral relativity, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1984, A companion to ethics, Blackwell, Malden, 1993, Natural moralities: A defense of pluralistic relativism,Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006), firstly in providing an argument supporting metaethical moral relativism and secondly regarding values of tolerance and/or accommodation that can contribute to the normative claim. The paper concludes by proposing an argument that it is morally wrong to impose a model of corporate governance where there are differences in moral judgements relevant to corporate governance, or to interfere with a model in similar circumstances, and closes with consideration of the argument’s implications.

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ID Code: 84070
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Moral relativism, Ethical relativism, Corporate governance, Tolerance, Stakeholder theory, Shareholder theory, Pluralism
DOI: 10.1007/s10551-014-2453-8
ISSN: 1573-0697
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Springer
Copyright Statement: The final publication is available at Springer via
Deposited On: 13 May 2015 00:35
Last Modified: 29 May 2016 23:16

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