The aristocratic Athenian investment banker or how to avoid outdated value systems: Values and ethics for business success

Research output: Conference paperContribution


To believe that the current situation of values in business is moral decadence is to put oneself in the wrong position to analyse the current situation of values in business. Avoiding this error we will explore the opposite notions that coexist about the presence of values in business. We will discuss some of Karl Polanyi's research. We will present the underlying hypothesis of these different views to introduce the importance of a through understanding of values for business. Thus, we will continue by reviewing values by answering among others the following questions: what are values? Do we need more values in business? Which type of values are we talking about? Do values have a purpose? A function? Is this a right question? Do we speak about concrete or abstract values? What is the importance of clarifying our focus? Is there normativity about values? We will analyse the different notions developed from philosophy and will bring into play the disciplines of psychology, psychological sociology, and anthropology with the purpose of clarifying the different contributions. We will draw on the research among others of Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Derrida, Chomsky, Adorno, Gadamer and Rorty. Our aim is practical; we approach our work as a theoretical development with clear and substantive implications for business, which we aim at discussing in this work. Therefore, we will argue and justify the need for a strong position of managers and leaders about the importance of developing a conscientious approach to values in business. We will show how the issues that are affecting business are not determined by a moral or immoral market system, maybe an amoral one? We will argue that some of the most important issues that affect businesses are related to the triumph of techno-science and globalization. We will present the data of sociologist such as Giddens, Bauman, Luhmann, Beck and Lipovetsky. We aim at arguing how techno-science and globalization have left without legitimacy and justification the ethical proposals of some of the most habitual philosophers in the field of business ethics. We will aim at work on the research of, among others already cited, Karl Popper, Thomas Nagel about objectivity, Christine Korsgaard on normativity and the problems that our reflection produces on established ethics, Karl-Otto Apel and his response on discourse ethics and finally J.L. Mackie on his nihilist position. We believe that these diverse views will bring clarity on the issue of values in business. We aim at fostering a meticulous understanding of what are values and whether we can create them and if this is the case how to do it. In case we had a negative answer, which would be the options we would have for values in business? We will try to draw some hypothesis given the questions posed and the contributions from the diverse authors. We aspire at developing a framework that could work towards informing management practice. We are conscious that our views might be polemic. We might challenge some of the precious assumptions that are most commonly held. We approach the issues with a collegial spirit and we hope that our questions and working hypothesis can provoke a fruitful dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2011
EventEBEN Annual Conference 2011 -
Duration: 14 Sept 201129 Sept 2011


ConferenceEBEN Annual Conference 2011


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