The Normative Justification of Integrative Stakeholder Engagement: A Habermasian View on Responsible Leadership
Business Ethics Quarterly, 28(3), 325-354, DOI: 10.1017/beq.2017.33
49 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018 Last revised: 20 Jul 2018
Date Written: 2018
The transition from modern to postmodern society leads to changing expectations about the purpose and responsibility of leadership. Habermas’s social theory provides a useful analytical tool for understanding current societal transition processes and exploring their implications for the responsibility of business vis-à-vis society. We argue that integrative responsible leadership, in particular, can contribute to the reconciliation of business with societal goals. Integrative responsible leadership understood in a Habermasian way is not only a strategic endeavor but also a communicative endeavor. An essential part of integrative responsible leadership in light of the current societal transformation processes is the facilitation of discourses about a shared base of norms and values. This is exemplified alongside current societal developments like the European migration crisis or the emerging nationalist and fundamentalist movements in some countries. We specify how and when leadership should resort to communicative action and discuss the implications for leadership.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, discourse ethics, Habermas, leadership ethics, philosophy
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