Repugnant Business Models: Preliminary Thoughts on a Research and Policy Agenda
28 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2017 Last revised: 20 Apr 2017
Date Written: March 30, 2017
This paper begins a larger project – to develop a principled basis for characterizing what does and does not constitute bad corporate behavior. The paper constructs and argues for three (admittedly highly contestable) categories: repugnant business models, which elicit outrage (such as the recent dramatic price rise for certain lifesaving drugs), models that reflect clashes in fundamental values between, typically, paternalism and autonomy (such as developing and promoting hyperpalatable foods), and finally, models that elicit unwarranted and self-serving outrage (such as surge pricing). One aim is to influence corporate behavior. If Repugnant Business Models as a concept can be made salient, shareholder proposals that ask companies to consider what they are doing to ensure that they don’t have such things, or judges or regulators taking the characterization and the laxity of a company’s efforts in preventing such things into account in determining how they treat the company, might result. Lawmakers, too, might be prodded to act. Another aim is to influence reactions to corporate behavior – not just behavior that is arguably bad but also behavior that elicits unwarranted outrage. Perhaps being able to articulate a principled rationale as to why outrage is unwarranted will enable companies with such models to put up a better defense when the models are attacked.
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, paternalism, autonomy, externalization
JEL Classification: D70, K20, L21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation