Firms, Citizens, and Claims about the Responsibilities of Firms

23 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2018

See all articles by Laurence Cranmer

Laurence Cranmer

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: April 7, 2016


This paper starts with a broad observation: there is a public debate about the activities of firms. This debate reveals differences between the parties that extends beyond the substantive issues involved. These differences include questions about the nature of the activities of firms as a whole, and about the firm’s responsibilities.

In order to understand this debate, the approach of this paper is to identify and then to analyse the various types of claim made by citizens and firms about the activities of firms, and in particular the responsibilities of firms. The paper identifies various types of claim, with a central distinction made between marketing claims and direct responsibility claims; all of the types of claim identified are defined for the paper. As the analysis develops some suggestions are made about public reasoning about these claims.

This approach creates the analytical structure of the paper; this aims for clarity, but it is recognised that the approach has significant limitations. It is hoped that the analysis so far makes a contribution to understanding the public debate about the responsibilities of firms, and supports collaboration between the parties involved to arrive at constructive resolutions to the issues raised.

Keywords: Corporate responsibility, public reasoning, ethical analysis

Suggested Citation

Cranmer, Laurence, Firms, Citizens, and Claims about the Responsibilities of Firms (April 7, 2016). Saïd Business School WP 2018-01. Available at SSRN: or

Laurence Cranmer (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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