The Ethics of the Node Versus the Ethics of the Dyad? Reconciling Virtue Ethics and Contractualism

Organization Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 391-411, March 2006

38 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2008

See all articles by Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Muel Kaptein

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

J. (Hans) van Oosterhout

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Abstract

Some centers of gravity are finally emerging in the field of business ethics after a decades-long search for action-guiding theories. Amongst the foremost of these are contractualism and virtue ethics. The former focuses on the morals of economic exchange, the latter on the moral qualities of economic actors. We demonstrate that these dyadic and nodal ethics are not competing contenders to the throne of business ethics, but complementary approaches that are best used in tandem if we want to identify the generic normative core of the field. Specifically, virtue ethicists benefit from contractualists' aptitude for highlighting the conditions exchange relationships must meet in order to become vehicles for the pursuit of excellence. In turn, contractualists profit from virtue ethicists' ability for identifying the qualities actors must posses to efficaciously engage in exchange transactions.

Keywords: business ethics, stakeholder management, stakeholder, virtue ethics, virtue, contractualism, contractarianism, Aristotle, excellence, exchange transactions, dyadic ethics, ethics, relational ethics, management, leadership

Suggested Citation

Heugens, Pursey P.M.A.R. and Kaptein, Muel and (Hans) van Oosterhout, J., The Ethics of the Node Versus the Ethics of the Dyad? Reconciling Virtue Ethics and Contractualism. Organization Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 391-411, March 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1097643

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2365 (Phone)
0031 10 408 9012 (Fax)

Muel Kaptein

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
+31 10 408 1923 (Phone)

J. (Hans) van Oosterhout (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Rotterdam
Netherlands

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