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Edward Freeman - Corporate strategy and business ethics

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Corporate Strategy and the Search for Ethics

VBM Thought Leader: R. Edward Freeman, Daniel R. Gilbert, Jr.

Edward FreemanAbout Edward Freeman: 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 business ethics, corporate strategy and environmental management.

His books help executives meet the challenge of being profitable while being environmentally responsible.

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.


Business ethics corporate strategyIn "Corporate 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 business strategy.

Some often used corporate strategy models are subjected to a provocative examination, in search of the deeper ethical issues.

Freeman's and 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.

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