The Rise of Business Ethics: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Rise of Business Ethics

1st Edition

By Bernard Mees


176 pages

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Hardback: 9781138614079
pub: 2019-12-18
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In 1973, Daniel Bell argued that corporations in post-industrial societies increasingly needed to behave in accord with widely accepted social norms, particularly in terms of ethical behavior and social responsibility. Yet widespread criticism of business behavior was not an invention of the 1960s and 70s or a product of changing commercial norms. The key feature historically has been business scandal. Understandings of how the field of business ethics has emerged are undeveloped, however.

This book is the first attempt to explain the conditions which saw a focus develop on business ethics especially in the 1960s and 70s, and how the broader field developed to encompass related notions such as corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, ethical leadership, sustainable business and responsible management education.

The Rise of Business Ethics provides an introduction and analysis of the key developments in contemporary business ethics by examining them in terms of their diachronic development – the key thinkers, the key issues, the key institutions and how they each contributed to contemporary understandings of business ethics, governance and practice. Addressing the topic from a European as well as North American perspective, The Rise of Business Ethics will be of interest to researchers, academics, and students in the fields of business ethics, business and society, business history, organization studies and political economy.

Table of Contents



  1. Introduction
  2. The Corporate Revolution
  3. Religion and Philanthropy
  4. The Social Responsibilities of Business
  5. Business Philosophy
  6. Corporate Governance
  7. Ethical Leadership
  8. Sustainability
  9. Responsible Management
  10. Conclusion



About the Author

Bernard Mees is an Associate Professor of Management at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Business Ethics

Business ethics is a site of contestation, both in theory and practice. For some it serves as a salve for the worst effects of capitalism, giving businesses the means self-regulate away from entrenched tendencies of malfeasance and exploitation. For others business ethics is a more personal matter, concerning the way that individuals can effectively wade through the moral quagmires that characterise so many dimensions of business life. Business ethics has also been conceived of as a fig leaf designed to allow business-as-usual to continue while covering over the less savoury practices so as to create an appearance of righteousness.

Across these and other approaches, what remains critical is to ensure that the ethics of business is the subject of incisive questioning, critical research, and diverse theoretical development. It is through such scholarly inquiry that the increasingly powerful purview of corporations and business activity can be interrogated, understood and, ultimately, reformulated. This series contributes to that goal by publishing the latest research and thinking across the broad terrain that characterised business ethics.

The series welcomes contributions in areas including: corporate social responsibility; critical approaches to business ethics; ethics and corporate governance; ethics and diversity; feminist ethics; globalization and business ethics; philosophical traditions of business ethics; postcolonialism and the ethics of business; production and supply chain ethics; resistance, political activism and ethics; sustainability, environmentalism and climate change; the ethics of corporate misconduct; the politics of business ethics; and worker’s rights.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate & Business History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate Governance