Corporate Strategy and the Search for Ethics
VBM Thought Leader: R. Edward Freeman, Daniel
R. Gilbert, Jr.
biography / resume / curriculum vitae
Professor of Business Administration R. Edward Freeman heads Darden's Olsson
Center for Applied Ethics, one of the world's leading academic centers for
the study of business ethics. Freeman has written or edited 10 books on
ethics, corporate strategy and environmental management.
His books help
executives meet the challenge of being profitable while being
He has also authored
more than 40 darden case studies. Freeman serves on the advisory board of
University of Virginia Institute for Practical Ethics.
Before joining The
Darden School in 1986, Freeman taught at the University of Minnesota and The
Wharton School. He has received teaching awards at all three schools.
Strategy and the Search for Ethics" Freeman and co-writer Daniel Gilbert
transform the business ethics model. They tie the usual separate,
off-to-the-side issue of business ethics to corporate strategy and
Some often used
corporate strategy models are subjected to a provocative examination, in
search of the deeper ethical issues.
Gilbert's point of view is simple: We must learn to build corporate strategy
on a foundation of ethical reasoning, rather than pretending that strategy
and ethics are separate. The questions and issues of corporate strategy are
fundamentally ethical issues.
Examples are given
of how ethics and strategy are connoted, and why this is so
important. The so called values and interdependence principles are
developed. The commonly held believe that ethics is subjective is addressed
and the fundamentals of ethical reasoning are explained using a simple
framework of harms and benefits, values, rights, rules and principles. No
less than seven different ways are explored on systematically connecting
ethics and strategy, using the concept of Enterprise Strategy. The
corporate social responsiveness approach is analyzed, using game theory.
Also Freeman shows how corporate strategy conceived as a solution to market
failure is suspect. The portfolio approach such as the
BCG Matrix is examined as is
Michael Porter's competitive
analysis framework. Finally, Freeman and Gilbert argue that the best
view of the connection of ethics and strategy is terms of individual
rights, thinking of the corporation as a set of voluntary agreements among
human persons each of whom is seeking to accomplish certain projects of
importance to him or her. Seven moral principles are explained.
This 1988 book is still highly recommended for top managers wishing to
re-examine basic assumptions about business, corporate strategy, people,
values, and business ethics.