Between Enterprise and Ethics: Business and Management in a Bimoral Society

Paperback | August 23, 2004

byJohn Hendry

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We live in a 'bimoral' society, in which people govern their lives by two contrasting sets of principles. On the one hand there are the principles associated with traditional morality. Although these allow a modicum of self-interest, their emphasis is on our duties and obligations to others: to treat people honestly and with respect, to treat them fairly and without prejudice, to help and are for them when needed, and ultimately, to put their needs above their own. On the other hand there are the principles associated with the entrepreneurial self-interest. These also impose obligations, but of a much more limited kind. Their emphasis is competitive rather than cooperative: to advance our own interests rather than to meet the needs of others. Both sets of principles have always been present in society but in recent years, traditional moral authorities have lost much of their force and the morality of self-interest has acquired a much greater social legitimacy, over a much wider field of behavior, than ever before. The result of this is that in many situations it is no longer at all apparent which set of principles should take precedence. In this book, John Hendry traces the cultural and historical origins of the 'bimoral' society have also led to new, more flexible forms of organizing, which have released people's entrepreneurial energies and significantly enhanced the creative capacities of business. Working within these organizations, however is fraught with moral tensions as obligations and self-interest conflict and managers are pulled in all sorts of different directions. Managing them successfully poses major new challenges of leadership, and 'moral' management, as the technicalproblem-solving that previously characterized managerial work is increasingly accomplished by technology and market mechanisms. The key role of management becomes the political and moral one of determining purposes and priorities, reconciling divergent interests, and nurturing trust in interpersonal relationships. Exploring these tensions and challenges, Hendry identifies new issues of contemporary management and puts recognized issues into context. He also explores the challenges posed for a post-traditional society as it seeks to regulate and govern an increasingly powerful and global business sector.

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We live in a 'bimoral' society, in which people govern their lives by two contrasting sets of principles. On the one hand there are the principles associated with traditional morality. Although these allow a modicum of self-interest, their emphasis is on our duties and obligations to others: to treat people honestly and with respect, t...

John Hendry is BRESE Professor of Business Administration at Brunel University, a Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge, and Adjunct Professor of International Business Ethics at the University of Notre Dame. After obtaining a degree in mathematics from Cambridge he worked in industry and the accounting profession, before completing an ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.66 inPublished:August 23, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199268630

ISBN - 13:9780199268634

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Obligation, Self-Interest, and the Development of Modern Society3. Free Enterprise and the Power of Business4. Economic Culture and the Legitimacy of Self-Interest5. Technology, Liberalism, and the Weakening of Moral Constraints6. The Crisis of Morality and the Moral Culture of Contemporary Society7. The Moral Tensions of Management8. The Challenge of Contemporary Management9. The Challenge for Contemporary Society10. Conclusion