A historical-cultural approach to the study of business ethics using the modern novel: an illustration.

Crump, Norman and Amiridis, Kostas and Costea, Bogdan (2007) A historical-cultural approach to the study of business ethics using the modern novel: an illustration. Management and Organizational History, 2 (3). pp. 237-254. ISSN 1744-9359

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The aim of this paper is to explore the fundamental relationship between ethics and business in their tragic historical unfolding as formulated in one of H.G.Wells�s lesser novels, The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914).Wells directly and explicitly addresses themes concerning modern business corporations, business people, management, social responsibility and domestic life at the turn of the twentieth century.We emphasize the centrality and importance of the form and style of the modern novel as a specific expression of ethics, that is, as a product of the continuous and tragic engagement of people with the finite horizon of life against which questions of moral sources emerge.Wells�s novel offers a new platform for reflection upon the cultural rationale of business institutions and management in modern society in two main directions. First, we show how he creates the context for a much necessary historical analysis required to properly re-problematize the ethical sustainability of the ideal of the �corporation� as the centre of the economy in modernity. Secondly, we work out how he allows us to ask the crucial and perennial question of whether the pursuit of profit can ever be reconciled with the urgent ethical imperative of modernity: finding the cultural resources necessary to sustain human freedom and emancipation against the limits of a political economy of acquisitive capitalism. Such problems are not simply of historical interest; they are central, but are largely neglected in texts of �business ethics� since they are uncomfortable for, and incompatible with, such texts� simplistic, mechanical, ahistorical and rather defensive frameworks.

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Journal Article
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Management and Organizational History
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Deposited On:
25 Oct 2007
Last Modified:
14 Sep 2023 23:51