Issues in Social and Environmental AccountingVol. 1, No. 2 December 2007Pp 199-216 Towards an Ethical Framework Grounded in Everyday Business Life Gabriel Donleavy Faculty of Business Administration University of Macau, ChinaAbstractBusiness is increasingly concerned to reconcile investor driven pressure to perform with statedriven pressure to conform (to a cascade of new regulation). Ethics generally favors the latter atthe expense of the former. The ethical frameworks developed in the last few years differ fromtheir classical predecessors, however. Integrative Social Contract Theory begins with the busi-ness contract and moves out from there to the wider society. Care theory begins with the rela-tionship between two individual persons and moves out from there. Both theories are skepticalof the Universalist claims of classical ethical and religious frameworks and both claim to beuser friendly. This paper compares and contrasts the two theories and hopes to show how theethical lacunae in ISCT can be fixed by Care Theory. How a business would operate under thesway of Care Theory is described. Fears that Care Theory cannot be applied to business withoutweakening competitive strength are addressed. The paper is offered as a step towards mergingISCT and Care Theory to evolve an ethical framework for business. It would be a frameworkthat engages fully with business realities, especially competitive realities, but that is directlyand clearly guided by classical ethical principles.Keywords: Integrative Social Contract Theory, Care Theory, Business Ethics1 Introduction - Market freedom prices accordingly. Free markets opti- and ethical absolutism mally allocate scarce resources. Mo- nopolies appropriate resources undesira-Adam Smith (1774/2001) famously pro- bly and should be made to behave likeposed that the intervention of an invisi- firms under free competition. Other thanble hand would transmute the general that, classical economists wish govern-greed and self interest of players in free ment regulation of markets to be as littlemarkets into the beneficial effects of a as possible.general improvement in welfare. Sellersand buyers compete to minimize re- Political philosophers of a libertariansource waste and markets then optimize disposition similarly wish to reduce theProf. Gabriel Douglas Donleavy is Full Professor of Management and Dean of Faculty of Business Administration,University of Macau China, email: email@example.com
200 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216role of government to the minimum nec- themselves what minimum regulationessary to ensure adequate safety for citi- their community must have to serve eve-zens. This is one extreme of social con- ryone’s interests. For Hobbes, thattract theory: At the other extreme is the meant an agreement to have a govern-implicit social contract between the state ment with a monopoly on the use ofand the privileged learned professional force, so that safety could be assured.associations such as lawyers, doctors For Rawls (1974), it meant equality ofand CPAs. They are allowed to be self opportunity and a minimum social wel-regulating by the state so long as such fare safety net in order to set a lowerregulation operates in the interests of the limit to permitted levels of destitution.community. This usually results in a For ISCT, it meant different things atplethora of very detailed regulations by different times as the theory developedthe societies.. Near this end of the spec- from its long list in 1989 to a muchtrum is the subdivision of the social con- shorter list by 1994. In a later formula-tract paradigm proposed by Donaldson tion by members of the Erasmus School(1982, 1988, and 1990) both alone and in Rotterdam (van Oosterhout et alwith Dunfee (1994, 1995, and 2002) 2006), the list of hypernorms has be-Integrative Social Contract Theory come almost empty, so keen are the pro-(hereafter ISCT). It proposes that indi- ponents on avoiding external interfer-vidual firms and entrepreneurs are ence with free contracting whether for-bound by agreements they make with mal or informal.each other, and that these agreementsexist in a moral free space, where no In mainstream jurisprudence, Kelseninterference or regulation is ethically (1934/2002) invented the idea of a Basicjustified, unless necessary to enforce Norm for any society whose effect waswhat they call hypernorms. Hypernorms to serve as the ultimate validating sourceare generally agreed ethical constraints of all of its law. The Basic Norm may beon contractual freedom. ISCT appeals to a written constitution, a sovereign’s de-classical economists and libertarians, cree, the Koran or any other root agencybecause it minimizes the role of state or event any particular society regardscontrol and general regulation, so keeps the fundamental root of its identity.markets as free as possible within anyone country’s prevailing social and legal All Basic Norms begin with real histori-framework. cal events or real people in power or both. Social contract hypernorms, how- ever, begin with imaginary states of na-2 Absolutism and imagined states of ture giving rise to imagined agreements nature about the content of social contract terms. Critics, especially feminist criticsSocial contract theories, such as ISCT, such as Held (1993), say this makes thegenerate their hypernorms from an authority of such alleged hypernormsimagined condition rather than a real doubtfulone. The imagined condition is a state ofnature existing before any type of con- Hypernorms are thus rooted in less solidtract. In that state a set of rational adult foundations than jurisprudential basicpeople is imagined who discuss among norms, though to them are attributed a
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 201similar legitimising and validating role is no less capable of ending up enforcedwithin society by ISCT. by a dictator than an ethics sourced in total isolation and introspective detach- ment. Religious ethics, of course, are3 Deontological dictatorship necessarily and proudly dictatorial. Ide- ologies, notably Communism, are quiteIn contrast to social contract theory, the explicitly dictatorial, even if they sayclassical ethical frameworks, such Utili- there will someday be a withering awaytarianism and Kant, or such development of the state.paradigms as Kohlberg’s (1978, 1981,and 1986); believe that ethical validity In sum, Universalist ethical frameworksentails universal application. Utilitarian are susceptible to misuse by dictatorscalculus is to be applied anywhere. precisely because they are Universalist.Kant’s categorical imperative, in any of Hobbesian and Rawlsian social contractits three formulations, also is to be ap- theories are Universalist; ISCT is not.plied anywhere, anytime, to any one. For Business generally, and free market pro-Kohlberg, if it was not universal, it was ponents particularly, do not readily sup-not ethics (Gilligan 1998). The univers- port dictatorships over themselves,alism of classical ethics sits uneasily whatever they may tolerate when it oc-with free market advocates, as it seems curs over others.to legitimate restraints of trade and busi-ness by reference to axioms, norms andbeliefs indifferent to, sometimes hostile 4 Relativism as democracy: theto, and often written centuries earlier case of ISCTthan, regular business conduct. ISCT shares with other versions of Con-Moreover, once a politician, religious tractarianism the belief that ethical va-leader or regulator is convinced of his lidity requires the prior consent of theown insight into universal ethical valid- parties. This crucial role for consentities, it becomes ethical for him to pre- gives it a democratic credential quitevent behaviour inconsistent with these absent from the traditional Universalistnorms and encourage behaviour that fur- ethics. Such democratic credentials arethers them. Dictatorship is said to be obtained through the doorway of ethicaljustified to achieve the ethical ends one relativism,. For liberals and libertarians,is sure are right. democratic credentials may be more im- portant than the mental security obtain-If one’s ethical framework, like Kant’s, able from Universalist ethical absolutes.requires treating all other humans as Free marketers, Friedmanites, the Chi-ends in themselves not means, then dic- cago School of economists and conser-tatorship can only be justified by the vatives naturally suspicious of any grandfurther belief that human nature is inca- theory may all join postmodernists inpable of treating people that way without finding attractive the moral free spaceeffective legal and regulatory restraint. inhabited by ISCT. The concession to hypernorms may be like Milton Fried-An ethical framework such as Kant’s man’s concession that although the so-grounded in an imaginary state of nature cial responsibility of the firm is to in-
202 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216crease its profits, nonetheless it should may imply a hypernorm, as may widelyobey the law. It seems like a concession endorsed standards such as the Universalmade to broaden the potential market for Declaration of Human Rights.the intellectual product rather than a sin-cere commitment. That however is much Thus, a local communitys micro-norm,less applicable to the Donaldson Dunphy supported by consent and the right to(hereafter DD) version of ISCT than the exit, is—if it does not violate a hyper-Erasmus School’s (van Oosterhout et al, norm—a "legitimate" norm. If norms2006) recent adaptation of it. DD take conflict, then their reconciliation or pri-hypernorms very seriously, are clearly oritization is facilitated by the followingcommitted to their crucial role within guidelines:-ISCT but have a difficult time decidingwhat the content of current hypernorms 1. Transactions solely within a singleare or should be. community, which do not have sig- nificant adverse effects on otherThe core propositions of ISCT are as humans or communities, should befollows per Corny (1995): governed by the host communitys norms.1. Local economic communities may 2. The more extensive or more global specify ethical norms for their mem- the community which is the source bers through micro social contracts. of the norm, the greater the priority2. Norm-specifying micro social con- which should be given to the norm. tracts must be grounded in informed 3. Where multiple conflicting norms consent buttressed by a right of exit. are involved, patterns of consistency3. In order to be obligatory, a micro among the alternative norms pro- social contract must be compatible vide a basis for prioritization. with hypernorms. Clearly the ethical validity of micro-DD themselves (1994: 264-65) general- norms within ISCT is strongly affectedize ISCT thus: by what the hypernorms actually com-A norm (N) constitutes an authentic ethi- prise.cal norm for recurrent situation (S) formembers of community (C) if and only Donaldson (1989: 81) initially proposedif: the idea of fundamental international rights that limit the free decision-making1. Compliance with N in S is ap- capabilities of international actors, in- proved by most members of C. cluding businesses. It is interesting to2. Deviance from N in S is disap- consider both content and the order of proved by most members of C. priority of this list.3. A substantial percentage (well over 50%) of the members of C, when 1. The right to freedom of movement. encountering S, act in compliance 2. The right to ownership of property. with N. 3. The right to freedom from torture. 4. The right to a fair trial.ISCT holds that the convergence of reli- 5. The right to non discriminatorygious, cultural and philosophical beliefs treatment (freedom from discrimi-
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 203 nation on the basis of such charac- authority of such ‘key transcultural teristics as race or sex.) truths’ as the idea that all humans de-6. The right to physical security. serve respect. It inhabits a ‘moral free7. The right to freedom of speech and space’ where economic communities association. and nations have their own norms unless8. The right to minimal education. those norms entail ‘flagrant neglect of9. The right to political participation. core human values’. The minimum con-10. The right to subsistence. tent of a global social contract is arrived in a state of nature and comprises theHorvath (1995) shows that, in his reply rights of individuals to voice within andto Hodapp (1990), Donaldson (1990: exit from any group and compatibility137) goes further: "... we will allow pro- with globally accepted hypernorms rec-ductive organizations to operate only on ognized by religions, philosophies andthe condition that they respect rights, cultural beliefs around the world., espe-observe standards of justice, and respect cially for businesses these three, per vanbroader societal needs. Hence, tbe pro- Oosterhout et al (2006):ductive organization is not morally enti-tled to harm unemployed persons, nor is 1. firms should adopt adequate healthit entitled to harm unemployed persons, and safety rules for their workersnor is it entitled to deny tbeir rigbts, to and give them the right to know thetreat them unjustly, or to damage their risks of doing any relevant jobs,natural environment." 2. no lies should be told 3. business obligations should be hon-DDs 1994 (p267) list of hypernorms ored in a spirit of honesty and fair-has, however, shrunk to the following: ness.• core human rights, including those The Van Oosterhout et al (2006:522) to personal freedom, physical secu- writers praise contractualism’s ‘content rity and well-being, political par- independent normative commitment, ticipation, informed consent, the based on whatever norms institutions ownership of property, the right to choose to live by which as a result they subsistence; and say ‘coheres well with liberal democracy• the obligation to respect the dignity and a system of free market exchange”, of each human person. and they do not posit any specific hyper- norms, only general and abstract ones.We may wonder why there is such a dif-ference between the two lists, so close intime but so different differ in scope and 5 Problems with social contractspecificity. theory in generalISCT was explained by Dunfee and There are at least three basic problems:Donaldson (1994, 1999, and 2002) as 1) the accuracy of the descriptions oflying midway between ethical relativism human nature,and ethical absolutism in a way that 2) questions about the normative au-combines individual contracts with thority of human nature, anddeeper social contracts. It recognizes the 3) whether the logic connecting human
204 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 nature to a particular form of gov- its own framework. Moreover, the ernment is real, is sufficiently framework itself could allow cannibal- strong, is determinative. ism, consent to being harmed, and it can exclude large blocks of people from itsThe conceptual problem is obvious; if reach (Kittay 1999).human nature is so ephemeral that themajor theorists define it in such different Scanlon (2001) says validity of a moralways, then a normative architecture, right lies in whether it can be reasonablywhere human nature is an ingredient for rejected so justification to self n others isthe foundations cement, will be too bedrock of contractualism. This rules outweak to support an ethical framework or unilateral protection of its citizens fromany social contract. their own folly.Darwall (2006: 208) says ‘mutual ac- Darwall (2006) argues that the ground-countability is what morality is funda- ing of morality in mutual accountabilitymentally about’, but others, such as rules out state protection of citizens fromKeeley (1995) question the concept of the consequences of their own folly andconsent as a viable ethical criterion. that means negative externalities to aEven assuming that consent is norma- contract are born by everyone within andtively significant, why should we think outside the contract. There is no rulethat hypothetical consent has any norma- against imposing externalities in ISCT,tive force? (Is it morally permissible for and hypernorms that do frown on suchyou to take my car without asking me, conduct are conceded by Scanlon (2001)just because I would have consented had to be deontic imports rather than part ofyou asked?) contractualism’s own inner morality. The exclusion of children has been rec-Van Oosterhout et al (2006: 528) say no ognized by Scanlon (2001) who wouldidea of contract ‘could carry normative appoint trustees able to contract on be-force under conditions of slavery or dic- half of the contractually disabled but thistatorship, or when processes of exchange simply creates a new field for the prob-and social coordination are predomi- lems of fiduciary duty to grow.nantly organized in a hierarchical andunilateral fashion’. However, one mightcounter that big business is organized in 6 Gender equality in search of ajust such a fashion in most industries in hypernormmost jurisdictions. To find an appropriate list of hyper-Buss (2005) closely argues that deceit norms, DD (1994:267) offer a survey ofand manipulation can coexist with various writers, codes, and conventions,autonomy, but it is incompatible with ultimately proposing a minimum stan-the inner morality of ISCT. Brand- dard of review for:Ballard (2004) argues equally closelythat contractualism can only support re- (a) Core human rights, includingstrictions on behavior outside the con- those to personal freedom, physi-tent of the contract or agreement by im- cal security and well-being, politi-porting deontic positions from outside cal participation, informed con-
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 205 sent, the ownership of property, powerless." (Rhoodie, 1989). the right to subsistence, and Even if ISCT were still to include as(b) The obligation to respect the dig- global hypernorms principles that favor nity of each human person. equal authority and opportunity forThey believe that constructing a list of women in the workplace, there is, sayhypernorms, or even delineating criteria Mayer and Cava (1996), no clear im-for their discovery, is difficult. Mayer provement over deontological ap-and Cava (1995) note that, as a result of proaches to multinational gender equal-this difficulty, following the prescribed ity issues. Where values are in flux andISCT procedure in gender discrimination in conflict, the very situations that callcases becomes problematic. To put the for a theory of business ethics that canlegal/ethical interaction into some per- provide nuance and principle withoutspective, they suggest consideration of at ethical relativism or ethical imperialism,least three types of examples. In Type I hypernorms are likely to be needed toexamples, a company valuing gender complete the calculations in DD’s algo-equality operates in a host country rithm. For issues of gender equality,whose values and laws are intolerant or ISCT as yet provides neither "detailedeven hostile to gender equality. In Type normative assessment of particular ethi-II examples, a company valuing gender cal problems in economic life" norequality operates in a host country "unequivocal boundaries on moral freewhose values — but not laws — are hos- space" (quotes are from DD, 1994: 279).tile to gender equality. In Type III, a Accordingly, ISCT is not yet more de-company not valuing gender equality tailed, flexible, or practical than standardoperates in a host country whose values normative theories such as Kantianismand laws promote gender equality. or universal rights. It may also be seen as not yet really ethical, as it is not yetWe cannot readily apply the hypernorm clear by which specific hypernorms,aspect of DDs in the type II of case; a business contracting should be bound.conflict of cultural values between homeand host country in which laws are notclearly dominant as factors in manage- 7 Care theory fills the hypernormrial decision-making. We cannot do so vacuumbecause of a conceptual cloudiness overhypernorms — what they are and how Hoffman (1989) argued that justice firstwe may come to know them. of all presupposes an attitude of caring, a sense of compassion for those in a lessIf there are both empirical and rational advantageous position and only secon-origins of hypernorms, the reality of a darily is concerned with matters, rights,global hypernorm favoring gender equality or merit. Noddings (1994) for-equality in work settings is doubtful, mulated the first care theory framework.since many countries appear to reject She said that traditional theories thatgender non-discrimination in work set- place justice as the foundation of moral-tings. To use the epigram of a South Af- ity are wrong. Instead, care should berican apartheid era writer from her major the foundation, with justice as the super-global survey, women throughout the structure. Ethics then is concerned withworld are largely "poor, pregnant, and relationships, not with atomistic indi-
206 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216viduals. Such feminist ethicists as Noddings (1994) and Held (1993) saw the motherCare theory takes as its distinctive ele- baby relationship as the foundation of allments an attention to particular others in ethics, because it is the historical foun-actual contexts (Held, 1987), a focus on dation for everyone of all their subse-the needs versus the interests of those quent relationships (the baby part that is,particular others (Tronto, 1993), and a not the mother part). Other feministscommitment to dialogue as the primary consider friendship as the ideal relation-means of moral deliberation (Benhabib, ship (e.g., Baier, 1985; Code, 1987).1992). Care may even be "not a system This relationship is voluntary, not per-of principles, but a mode of responsive- manent, and can be equal, although itness" (Cole and Coultrap-McQuin, often is not. It seems to be a better1992). model for real-world relationships, par- ticularly among stakeholders: but otherAccording to Noddings (1994), people relationships also exist in the real world,naturally privilege their family members notably relationships of convenience orand friends in making decisions. She necessity that may not be modeled wellwants us to move beyond that immediate by friendship.circle to care for others who are relatedto us either through our intimates or A problem with some feminist writingthrough some role we play—for exam- on care theory (e g Gilligan 1982) is thatple, at work. Noddings sees relation- it often seems to place caring and justiceships, and thus caring, as not stopping in opposition to each other. Tong (1993)even with everyone we know. Instead, argues that caring and justice are notwe are even to care for those with whom opposed but complementary attributes ofwe have no present relationship, merely the good society: both are necessary butan anticipated hypothetical relationship. not sufficient.Noddings defends herself against thecharge of ethical relativism by arguing However, care as a source of ethics facesthat a caring attitude is universal, indeed the difficulty of compatibility with com-that it is fundamental to all humans. petitiveness. MacIntyre (1984: 254)However, she rejects universal laws, quoted by Dobson (1996) argues thatsaying that ethics is about concrete, par- "..the tradition of the virtues is at vari-ticular relationships, not abstract con- ance with central features of the modemcepts like the good of society. economic order .." Specifically, Macln- tyre isolates three "central features of theMoral dilemmas for Noddings are not modern economic order" that exclude itindividual but relational, not a mono- from the virtues. These arelogue but a dialogue, because each "individualism ... acquisitiveness and itsmoral dilemma will involve a relation- elevation of the values of the market to aship and thus affect all people involved central social place". However, just asin that relationship. Consensus is the individuals may reach the limit of theirgoal of all those engaged in dialogue care capacity at the front door, so com-regarding moral dilemmas. Above all, pany people may not need to care sowe are not to cause anyone pain or sepa- much about competitors as about stake-ration. No good is worth that. holders, but such limits are quite consis-
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 207tent with care theories approval of care Noddings views general mission state-intensity diminishing as relations are ments claiming to care as representingmore remote. More specifically, care only a "verbal commitment to the possi-theory provides a possible decision rule bility of care" (1994:18). The quality offor the firm that wants to apply the care particularity is essential—caring lives inconcept to its interactions with stake- the relationship between me, an individ-holders:-"I will privilege those with ual, and you, another individual. With-whom I have a close relationship." This out this particularity, the caring connec-is not necessarily a relativistic rule. tion is lost and we must re-label the newRelativism concerns a rule that is process: no longer "caring", it becomesadopted by a particular individual or "problem-solving", in Noddings termi-society as applicable only to that indi- nology. “The significance of the differ-vidual or society. The quoted relational entiation between caring and problem-rule would be applicable universally. solving goes far beyond semantics. TheWhat is necessary from Noddings point process of defining generalizedof view is that harm not be caused at "problems" and decoupling these fromall—but this seems impossible to fulfill the lived experiences of individuals whoin real life. What Burton and Dunn we see ourselves as having relationships(1996) propose instead is a hybrid ap- with, risks two outcomes antithetical toproach, recommending that special at- care. The first is the loss of particularitytention be given to the least advantaged and resulting dehumanization of the in-members of the moral community. Fol- dividuals in need.”(Liedtka 1996). Fer-lowing Rawls (1971), the principle guson (1984) has argued that bureauc-would then read, "Care enough for the racy is antithetical to the ability to care.least advantaged stakeholders that they The rules in a bureaucracy become, overnot be harmed.” time, the ends rather than the means. Thus, caring, even for the customer orIn the ethic of care, the focus is the con- client, is subordinated to perpetuation ofcrete needs of particular individuals. It is the organization in its current state. Fi-the conduct of daily life, lived for the nally, Ferguson asserts that openness,most part with long intervals in between which is central to caring, is impossiblethe kind of moral dilemmas that have to sustain in a bureaucracy, as it threat-dominated business ethics discussions, ens the status quo that the structure livesthat is its arena (Liedtka 1996). It places to protect.less emphasis on the exercise of free willand choice, and more on recognizing the It is only in the process of personallymoral demands ever-present imposed engaging with the particular other thatupon us (Scaltsas, 1992). Though this we gain the specialized knowledge oflack of interest in prescribing moral so- their context, history, and needs that per-lutions has raised questions as to the mits us to fully care for them on theiradequacy of care as a moral theory terms, rather than ours (Benhabib 1992).(Koehn, 1995), it suits well the realities Herman (1993) has noted, in her explo-of corporate life, which are often about ration of Kants duties for benevolencethat which is required, rather than that and mutual aid, that the focus here, aswhich is chosen. there, is not on pursuing ones ends/or them, it is on enhancing their capability
208 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216to pursue their own ends. If, as Flanagan Clement (1996)’s earlier grounding of a(1982) states, the "motor of cognitive general care duty in our not quite sodevelopment is contradiction, caring readily evident fact of our condition ofmay well be comprised more of "tough general vulnerability to others. Baierlove" than of indulgence. Bateson ob- (1985) said what makes us human is theserves (1990:155): "The best care-taker care we receive from others and that alloffers a combination of challenge and unhealthy and sociopathic behaviorsupport...To be nurturant is not always could be traced back to a deficiency ofto concur and comfort, to stroke and flat- care. Kittay (1999) asserts that societyter and appease; often, it requires offer- would cease to exist altogether if nobodying a caring version of the truth, cared for anyone else;- the implicationgrounded in reality. Self-care should being that care is a general duty becauseinclude the cold shower as well as the society must self-evidently be sustained.scented tub. Real caring requires setting Fineman (2004, 48) agrees and focusespriorities and limits. Even the hard on ‘caring for’ rather than caring aboutchoices of triage have their own tender- in her assertion: “It is caretaking laborness." that produces and reproduces society.”Self-care, Gilligan (1992) argues, is aprecondition for giving morally mature 8 Care as parentalismcare to others. Similarly, bereft of astrong regard for particularity, commu- The replacement of the universalist fa-nities can smother difference and subju- ther of classical ethics by the caringgate those in need of care. The develop- mother of feminist care theory carriesment process evolves out of the aspira- the danger of failing to respect the indi-tions and capabilities of the cared for, viduality of the other party. Brockrather than being driven by the needs (1996) reviews how Kultgen (1995) pro-and goals of the care-giver. Gilligan poses safeguards against this.(1982) is supported in the above byTronto (1993) and Slote (2000), though For Kultgen, there is some appropriateself care obviously becomes self indul- form of caring which manifests itself ingence when in excess. Caring is neither parents caring for children, and thisa positive nor negative attribute but in- should serve as a model for other con-stead forms part of a subjectively experi- texts.enced relationship, which may be usedboth to control and/or to empower others Kultgens definition of parentalism is(Chodorow 1978, Court 1994). this: Call the parentalistic agent, P, theEngster (2005) attempts to ground a gen- subject acted on, S, and the paren-eral paradigm on the basis of care theory talistic act, A. Then: Action A isby extending the work of such writers as parentalistic if and only if (a) P be-Fineman (2004) and Kittay (1999), who lieves that A is an intervention inhad grounded their own assertion of a Ss life; (b) P decides to perform Ageneral duty of care on the evident fact independently of whether S author-of our general inter-dependency. They in izes A at the time of the perform-turn had developed their view from ance; (c) P believes that A will con-
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 209 tribute to Ss welfare; and (d) P per- on S independently of her consent): forms A for this reason. An action P may be justified in promotive paternal- is parentalistic if it is an interven- istic intervention in the affairs of S in tion in a subjects life for his benefit situation C, when both the following without regard to his consent. conditions are met: (Ml). P has special responsibilities toHe offers us a principle for evaluating care for or promote Ss well-beingwhen parentalism is justified. His in certain ways, W, in situations"Principle of Parentalism" is this: such as C.Persons are justified in acting parentalis- (M2). S is sufficiently vulnerable, de-tically if and only if they believe that the pendent, incompetent or ignorantexpected value of the action for the re- so that Ss well-being is unlikely tocipient is greater than any alternative be promoted in ways, W, if P doesand they have reason to trust their own not intervene, particularly in situa-judgment despite the opposition of any- tions such as C.one, including the recipient. Thus any vacuums in the ISCT hyper-The potential for ‘nanny style’ dictator- norms could be filled by parentalisticship is evident in the above, and Brock intervention in specific contexts (and so(1996) proposes limitations to result in not ground any new general restrictions),what she styles ‘the appropriate care but such interventions would breachview” ISCT’s key requirement of consent. Care theory and ISCT are in head on conflictFor Protective Paternalism (i.e., inter- over the status of consent, and it is out-vention which aims to protect S from side the scope of this paper to discussharm independently of her consent): the significance or curability of this con- flict.P may be justified in protective paternal-istic intervention in the affairs of S insituation C, when both the following 9 Effects of a care theory frameworkconditions are met: on business conduct(TI). Great harm is likely to ensue to S Corporate behaviour guided by the prin- from non-intervention in situation ciples of care theory would manifest like C. (The greater the harm, or the a refinement of the well known Theory more irrevocable effects of that Y, itself a humanization of the widely harm are likely to be, the more practiced and bottom line driven Theory justified the intervention, ceteris X. paribus.)(T2). S does not know that grave harms “If we think of ourselves as deeply and are likely (or does not understand involuntarily connected, and we care what that entails) for S in situation about each others survival more than C. our own, how do we approach corporate downsizing? If we expect our work re-For Promotive Paternalism (i.e., inter- lationships to move predictably fromvention which aims to bestow benefits initial dependence through increasing
210 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216independence to separation, how does customers needs.that influence our hiring, training, andpromotion practices? If we value nurtur- Expertise will be shared and individualsing, encouraging, and empowering as will be teachers of some things andmanagerial skills, how should we struc- learners of others simultaneously, asture managers compensation? If we individuals are constantly stretched tovalue competitive striving and ranked develop their talents. Contrary to theachievements at a particular stage of image of sentimentality often attached toemployee development, what are the the notion of care, "tough love," as notedappropriate measures and rewards? How previously, may be a more apt descrip-can we create an assessment instrument tion. Caring organizations will need tothat fosters healthy competition, but also be as tough-minded and results-orientedrecognizes and celebrates the unique as any other organization. It will be theirstrengths of individual contribu- methods and aspirations that distinguishtors?” (Derry, 1999) them, not their lack of attention to out- comes. The values of mutual respect,Liedka’s (1996) Table below shows the honesty, and patience will be its founda-distinctions between the attitudes and tion. Similarly, there must be clearbehaviors she finds embedded in the boundaries around each individuals andtransactional focus of the market mecha- each organizations responsibility tonisms versus the relationship-based care. Such focus is necessary to avoidprocesses of care (see the next page). overwhelming the care-giver with re- sponsibilities that exceed his or her emo- If caring organizations cannot be bu- tional, intellectual, and physical capacityreaucracies, they have to nonetheless be to care.coherent. Because the concept of reachis partially a function of decision-making scope, the architecture of the 10 Conclusion – Building the Unionorganization would need to be highly of Bottom Up or Grounded Busi-decentralized. It would entail the crea- ness Ethicstion of a network of connections, wherethe focus was on the relationships be- Kant argued, "The basis of obligationtween individuals, rather than the posi- must not be sought in human nature or intion of "boxes" in a hierarchy. Iannello the circumstances of the world in which(1992) has reported on similar efforts at [man] is placed, but a priori simply in"de-alienating the workforce," by putting the concepts of pure reason." (Abbott"meaning and values back in jobs." 1909:389). Despite its starting from suchEngagement, based on Kahns work a different place from Kant, “ an ethic of(1990), is itself the product of meaning- care is clearly consistent with the 2ndful work, a safe environment and the formulation of the Categorical Impera-availability of resources. In this world, tive to always treat persons as ends, andorganizational members at every level not merely means. Interpreting thisneed to be strategic thinkers, who under- within an ethic of care, however, wouldstand the organizations purpose and its require that we recognize and treat eachcapabilities, as they respond to ever- person as a concrete, rather than a gener-changing opportunities to better meet alized other” (Benhabib, 1992).
G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216 211 Role Business as Market Business ad Caring Transaction RelationshipCustomer Ancillary: Process is driven Primary: Process is driven by the by organization’s need to organization’s desire to attend care- sell its solution to some fully to customer’s self-defined identified set of problems. needs and aspirations and facilitate These come with customers their achievement. attached.Employees Expendable/Replaceable: Primary: Developing members of a Their labor is purchased at community of mutual purpose and market rates in order to pro- linchpin that creates the organiza- duce and sell organization’s tional capability set and connects it solutions. with customer needs.Suppliers Interchangeable: Interested Primary: As partners in the process in selling their solutions as of attending to end uses in the value input into the production of chain that we share, they attend to next downstream product. us and make possible our customers As their customers, our firm focus. is ancillary to their purpose.Organization and Senior Primary: To plan, supervise, Supporting: To Create a caringManagement control, and monitor the context and systems which provide processes of production and resources and decentralized author- selling to ensure quality and ity that enables employees to care efficiency. for customers.Shareholders Primary: As owners of the Supporting: As members of the business, their interests, in workplace community, they pro- the form of profits earned, vide capital that facilitates the proc- dominate decision-making. ess of meeting the needs of other stakeholders. Their needs are met as project succeeds. ently-that is, drawing on the local andBoth ISCT and Care Theory are partici- particular to inform the search for sharedpative rather than detached. To the ex- understandings and traditions rather thantent that this entails relativism in some start with the universal and assume onesense, taking a non-universalist ap- has what is necessary. Indeed, embrac-proach need not entail rejection of Kant- ing a non-universalist position need notian moral norms. Nor does it require that entail the rejection of international hu-we conclude they have no importance in man rights or other cross-cultural moralthe quest to expand international coop- norms (Wicks, 1998). However, thereeration. Instead it means one should ap- appear to be three key differences in tak-proach and develop these norms differ- ing a non-universalist vantage point.
212 G. Donleavy / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2007) 199-216First, there is a greater skepticism and relativism into a general theory in thescrutiny brought against any candidate. following manner. Because resources ofSecond, more attention is paid to the money, time and energy are limited, caredetails of any alleged convergence in effort has to be allocated according tomoral understanding to ensure that, for some sort of priority schema. It is rea-example, the language of rights and the sonable and efficient for us to care morecontent a given right may embody is for those especially dependent on ustruly shared. And third, ethicists would such as our intimate family. This in-approach this task from within given cludes a primary duty to care for our-traditions or cultural contexts to arrive at selves enough to prevent us becoming anthese notions rather than relying on a unnecessary burden on others. Thistheoretical argument to generate them ‘universal principle of partiality’ is the(i.e., more inductive or dialectical rather core of Engster’s general care theorythan purely/primarily deductive). project. It means each person should care primarily for her/his intimates andHeld (1993:195) says social contract dependants because generally that willtheories of a Rawlesian or Hobbesian distribute care resources most effectivelytype which begin with independent man across society. As for those left out andin a state of nature are wrong, since such uncared for by their intimates, they be-a state of nature is quite impossible and come the responsibility of everyone.therefore cannot validly serve as a start- However, he does not say how resourcesing point for any theory, positive or nor- can consistently, fairly or effectively bemative, of human nature, inasmuch as allocated to such unfortunates whoseany so called independent men would numbers may be rather large and in-have begun life as babies dependent on creasing over time.mothers. Folbre (2001) applies similarcriticisms to market and contractualist Let us end this article with a quote frombased morality paradigms, saying that Solomon on the ethical executive toproductive labor and entrepreneurs first show what the essential contribution ofhave to be bred and raised, and someone care theory to corporate life would be,has to care enough to make that happen. even though Solomons himself is a vir-Finally from this perspective, Kittay tue ethicist not a care theorist.(2001:535) says the duty to care shouldbe seen as a “categorical imperative… “An executive who is forced to firederivable from universalizing our own someone, a military commander who hasunderstanding that were we in such a to order men to their death may well feelsituation, helpless and unable to fend for and ought to feel distress because, whileourselves, we would need to care to sur- doing their duties, they also feel com-vive and thrive.” Engster (2005) won- passion. At such times, it is good to feelders if there exists a basic human right to bad, and to avoid the pain is. in someobtain care when it is needed, on the sense, immoral. Thus when the execu-grounds that the such a right is a prereq- tive pleads that its just a business deci-uisite of human survival, survival being sion or the commander insists that itstaken to be a self evident basic good. nothing personal we can recognize inFrom here he ingeniously proceeds to their detachment a kind of moral badmake Care Theory’s particularity and faith. So much for the wisdom that says
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