Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 15

Business Ethics: A European Review

Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010


Painter-Morland, Mollie. Questioning corporate codes of ethics.
Business ethics : European review Vol. 19 No. 3 (2010 Jul) pp 265-279

Questioning corporate codes


of ethics
Mollie Painter-Morland
Department of Philosophy, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA

This paper argues that corporate Codes of Ethics lose their ability to further moral responsiveness because of
the narrow instrumental purposes that inform their adoption and use. It draws on Jacques Derridas reading
of Emmanuel Levinas to argue that, despite the fact that all philosophical language entails a certain violence,
corporate Codes of Ethics could potentially play a more meaningful role in furthering ethical questioning
within corporations. The paper argues that Derridas reading of Levinas notion of the third could
precipitate the emergence of a broader sense of ethical responsibility towards multiple others within
corporations. Codes may also present the opportunity for corporations to engage in the reconsideration of
their own purposes in the light of questions of justice towards multiple others. How these changes in the
establishment and use of Codes may be accomplished is explored towards the end of the paper.

The question
Corporate Codes of Ethics can be dened as written
documents in which corporations make explicit their
normative commitments. Therefore, when read as a
critical statement, the title of this paper may strike
the reader as strange. Why would anyone want to
question corporate Codes of Ethics? Surely, corporate Codes of Ethics (hereafter simply referred to as
Codes) are helpful in establishing the ethical
commitments of corporations and serve to guide
all stakeholders in terms of what should be
considered acceptable behavior. This paper will
argue that, unfortunately, even the best intentions
fail in the process of Code formulation and
institutionalization and that it is sometimes precisely
through these processes that moral responsiveness is
lost. There are therefore good reasons to question
the existence of these documents.
In what follows, it will in fact be argued that
Codes may perpetuate a questionable instrumentality that may undermine rather that further ethical
responsiveness. I will not stop there, however. The
hope of this paper is that, in questioning Codes of
r 2010 The Author
Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road,
Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St, Malden, MA 02148, USA

Ethics, these documents may become part of the


practice of ongoing ethical questioning that would in
fact reinvigorate ethics in business environments. In
this way, the second potential meaning of the title is
made explicit: certain kind of Codes, i.e. the
questioning kind, can assist us in meeting the basic
challenge of ethics, which is to never stop questioning our decisions and practices.
Where do I start this questioning? In his book,
Taking on the Tradition, Michael Naas (2003)
analyzes the multiple texts in which Derrida attests
to the necessity of breaking with tradition from
within. In and through Derridas engagement with
various central gures in the philosophical tradition,
it becomes clear that one cannot avoid being given
over to the concepts, structures, and preoccupations
the tradition that one is trying to break with. In fact,
it is precisely in and through these concepts that one
can challenge, resist, and engage with ones tradition. As someone who is engaged with both the
Western philosophical tradition and that of the
specic eld of Business Ethics, my project here
therefore entails exploring these traditions from
within. I should also take account of the context
doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8608.2010.01591.x

265

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

within which these traditions function. The business


context within which I do my work can be described
in terms of neo-liberal economics, prot-maximization, and the pursuit of individualist self-interest. As
a business ethicist, I cannot avoid nding myself
incorporated by the concepts and preoccupations
that dominate this realm.
My interest, in this paper, is to ask whether it is
possible to start from within the Business Ethics
tradition, using the very concepts that allow us to
engage in a discussion on Codes in the rst place, to
explore the constraints that govern any such engagement. Within Business Ethics, the development of
stakeholder theory 25 years ago led to an awareness
that various groups of people have a stake in the way
corporations function, and that they should therefore
be informed of the normative orientations, or values,
of the corporation (Freeman 1984). The idea was that
external stakeholders, such as customers, communities, and suppliers, can hold corporations to their
normative commitments, and also that internal
stakeholders, such as employees, will be guided to
consistently operate according to the corporations
value-commitments. Concepts like stakeholder interest, accountability, and responsibility are therefore
central to any interrogation of the functioning of
Codes. It is, however, important to unpack the
assumptions operative within the employment of
these constructs in practice, and to press towards new
possibilities that may be sought in, through, and
often despite these terms. One has to acknowledge
that there have been attempts to challenge the
dominant assumptions within which Business Ethics
tends to function. The challenge, however, remains
on how to move from theoretical criticism towards
alternative practices. I start this paper with an
assessment of business ethicists research on the use
and value of Codes, as well as an acknowledgement
of critiques of the kind of instrumental Business
Ethics practices of which Codes form a part. I then
pursue a more philosophical interrogation of the
problems with Codes. This will include an analysis of
the ethical violence that is inherent to code language,
and an exploration of Derridas reading of Levinas in
rethinking subjectivity and ethical responsiveness.
The paper will end with an exploration of some
practical considerations in moving towards codes
that are capable of fostering ethical questioning.

266

An overview of the assessment of Codes


within the Business Ethics literature
In a systematic study of ethics management programs, my earlier research found that scholars in
Business Ethics regularly express skepticism regarding the value of Codes (Painter-Morland 2008: 22
23). One reason for the skepticism is that attempts to
nd evidence regarding the value of codes yield
mixed results. Loe et al. (2000: 185), for instance,
found that in most of the 17 empirical studies that
they consulted, a positive relationship could be
established between ethical codes and ethical behavior. Schwartz (2000), on the other hand, analyzed
19 such studies, and could nd such a positive
relationship in only nine of these. Therefore, there
seems to be no denitive evidence that codes have a
signicant effect on ethical behavior in organizations (Pater & Van Gils 2003: 764).
The objections that are raised against codes in
business ethics discourses range from a critique
of their intent and the implications of their promulgation, to realistic assessments of their use.
Researchers point out that, because many codes are
promulgated to comply with regulatory demands or
to reduce companies legal risks, they induce only
routinized compliance (Fisher 2001: 148). Codes
that are primarily drawn up to limit a companys
legal liabilities, therefore, tend to reect little of
what is really valued by, or expected of, those who
participate in an organizational system. Schwartz
(2000: 173) concurs that codes are mostly inwardlooking, i.e. aimed at behavioral conformity. As
such, they do little to stimulate moral discretion. In
fact, the kind of behavioral conformity that they
advocate discourages moral responsiveness by
undermining individual autonomy. Kjonstad &
Willmott (1995) describe two kinds of ethics, namely
restrictive ethics and empowering ethics. The former
is concerned with formulating and operationalizing
codes of conduct, and the latter with moral learning
and development. They argue that moral reasoning
should be less routinized and include intuitive sensemaking. Codes offer instructions but are less capable
of what Kjonstad & Willmott (1995: 445) call
reective practical understanding of the normative
organization of human interaction. This kind of
understanding requires an integration of intuition

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

and compassion and an awareness of the relational


aspects of our human reality, and in this respect,
Codes are of little help.
Codes may also have unintended negative effects
on employees commitment to ethical standards.
Fisher (2001: 147148) interviewed 45 nancial and
human resource managers in order to engage them
in a dialogue on how they perceived the meaning of
ethical codes within their organizations. Respondents indicated that they paid little attention to
codes because they considered them banal and
unnecessary. They also felt that codes undervalued
their experience, stated the obvious, and insulted
their moral intelligence. Some also commented that
they felt as though their honesty and integrity were
being called into question when they were required
to sign certicates to conrm their willingness to
abide by a code. Schwartz (2000: 176) goes so far as
to argue that Codes alienate employees from their
innate morality. The study by Pater & Van Gils
(2003: 770) seems to lend support to this idea. They
found that the presence of an ethical code had a
negative effect on individual ethical decision-making. Their explanation for this counter-intuitive
nding is that the existence of control mechanisms
and rules does not affect the ethical attitudes that
actually inform behavior. The fact that code content
is often commonsensical may indeed insult employees intelligence. Providing more detail in codes of
conduct may also be counter-productive, as it leaves
no room for individual discretion. In fact, a heavy
reliance on rules and policies may bring individuals
to the conclusion that if something is not strictly
forbidden, it is permissible.
Those authors who remain somewhat positive
about the value of Codes argue that they need to be
supported by active interventions with regard to the
establishment of a strong ethical corporate culture.
In her study of Codes that spans more than a
decade, Betsy Stevens (1996, 1999, 2008) highlights
the fact that the effectiveness of Codes is reliant on a
multiplicity of factors. Strengths that some Codes
may display in certain areas may be limitations in
others. The communication of Codes seems to be as
important as its content. Executive leadership must
actively support Codes and these documents must be
properly implemented via training programs and
other initiatives directed at inuencing the organiza-

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

tions culture (Stevens 2008). It also becomes clear


that Codes only appear on the agenda of executives
if their instrumental value can be established. For
instance, Stevens et al. (2005) found that executives
are more likely to pay attention to Codes in
decision-making when market-related stakeholders
pressure them to do so and if the use of Codes has
clear reputational or strategic value. We are left with
a kind of Catch-22 situation. Codes are effective if
leaders support and implement them, but leaders
will only support and implement them when they are
deemed to be effective instruments. In Derridas
terminology, we might even view this as an aporia of
sorts. An aporia refers to an impasse, a situation
where one cannot move forward because of the
presence of certain metaphysical blindspots. In the
case of Business Ethics, this blindspot relates to
using various tools (like Codes) for ethical purposes,
while in the process paradoxically undermining
ethics as such. The study of Codes in Business
Ethics seems to be stuck in this instrumental logic,
and as such, may be asking the wrong questions.
Within Organizational Theory and Critical Management Studies, the instrumental use of philosophy
to help rms devise clear-cut decision-making
structures has met with some serious criticism. The
main problem seems to lie in the fact that Business
Ethics as a theoretical discipline cannot problematize its own assumptions and therefore know its own
limits (Jones 2003a, 2003b). Jones et al. (2005) argue
that, in an attempt to come up with helpful
suggestions regarding engendering ethical business
decisions and practices, Business Ethicists make
selective use of philosophy and not only distort
philosophical positions but also fail to ask the right
questions of business. Some other scholars have
used Zygmunt Baumans reading of Levinas as their
point of departure to highlight the dangers of
approaching ethics by means of routinized rules
(see Clegg et al. 2007, and ten Bos 1997). Roberts
(2001) draws on Levinas to argue that ethics
programs, including Codes, undermine ethics as
such. We can see that considerable energy and
research has gone into criticizing Business Ethics
theory and practice. In 2007, the Special edition of
Business Ethics: A European Review offered an even
more systematic theoretical engagement with the
thinking of Levinas within the eld of Business

267

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

Ethics. Some authors were skeptical about the


possibility to get to a Levinasian corporate ethics,
especially as Levinas ideas center on the idea of
embodied proximity between an individual and the
Other s/he is confronted with. For instance, Bevan
& Corvellec (2007) argue that as corporations do not
have bodies that can be affected by others, they are
incapable of Levinasian responsiveness. These
authors made it clear that Levinasian ethics cannot
become merely another convenient tool in the
arsenal of business managers. The work of all these
scholars is an important part of the tradition that we
draw on in rethinking the use of Codes in corporations. The limitation of this work, however, is that it
tends to focus on more general critical perspectives
and does not offer very much in terms of a positive
rethinking of specic practices such as Code
development and implementation.
In this paper, I acknowledge the unintended (and
intended) effects of specic instrumental orientations and concur with much of the critical literature
already mentioned. However, I explore why, despite
the objections to Codes, we may want to maintain
our commitment to them. I also have to acknowledge that it is very difcult to criticize certain
practices, like code formulation, without inadvertently using the very assumptions, concepts, and
strategies that one is criticizing and even more
difcult to avoid reinscription of the same problems
in any new suggestions I may have. Yet this will not
deter me from pressing towards new possibilities
within and beyond current Code practices.

The problem: ethical language as violence


The hope of any critical interrogation or dissent is to
change the status quo, to differ in a way that would
not re-inscribe the problem in and through ones
critique of that problem. For instance, is it possible
to critique the manner in which corporations deal
with their stakeholders and describe their ethical
obligations, without unquestioningly accepting the
terms of corporate interactions with those stakeholders? Our use of the word stakeholder always
already displays certain value-priorities that may
cover over the neglect of other ethical imperatives.
One of the basic issues that this paper will therefore

268

have to address is the relationship between philosophical language and the ethical questions that exceed
it, between the tradition that informs and enables
the thinking that takes place within it and the ethical
imperative that cannot be contained within it and
yet cannot be spoken without it.
Emmanuel Levinas provides us with ways to
articulate the problem with philosophical language,
and with codes. Instead of allowing us to focus only
on the ontology of the said, Levinas wants to draw
our attention to the temporalization of the ethical in
the saying. Ethics happens in the saying that takes
place in the process of responding to the face of the
Other (Levinas 1985: 42, Levinas 1993: 141142). In
establishing the said in strictly ontological terms, as
all ethical language does, the ethical is lost. Such
statements must hence be undone, at least in
principle. Just as the face of the Other is the origin
of philosophical language, so the Other, and other
others, can only be made intelligible through
philosophical language. However, philosophical
language has a severely cracked surface, and it is
in and through the cracks that experience is silently
revealed (Derrida 1978: 112). Encountering the
ethical demand of the Other means that we nd
ourselves responding to this demand in the language
by which ontology is established and justice (or
some form of it) is procured.
Derrida explores Levinas concept of the third to
discuss the relationship between ethics and politics.
The third, and the question of justice, emerges from
the rst instance in the face-to-face encounter, as
any response to this encounter presupposes language
(Derrida 1978: 119120). When the face-to-face
relationship between me and the Other precipitates
a consideration of all the other others who have to
be included in the ethical demand, I am in fact
considering the question of justice (Naas 2003: 104).
Derrida (1997: 60) makes it clear that the emergence
of the question, of the third, of justice, is not to be
understood as an alternative, or as a second step in a
sequence of events. In Derridas (1997: 60) words:
They do not wait; they do not wait for one another.
It is the divergence or the difference between these
two orders that makes the welcoming possible, but
yet they occur simultaneously. The question of
justice emerges from the rst instant, in the faceto-face encounter with the Other. This happens

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

because language, in its very use, is justice (Levinas


1979: 213). Naas, however, cautions that one cannot
establish a point of transition, or offer an easy
translation, between these two orders, the orders
that Levinas identied as the saying and the said. He
argues that there are better or worse ways of
negotiating the threshold between these two moments. My interest lies in nding a (better) way to
negotiate these moments in and through the development and use of corporate codes.
Exploring the diachronic process of ethical
responsiveness in and through the synchronic
ontological frames of reference that corporate codes
inevitably confront us with may be our most serious
challenge. Levinas brings us to the paradoxical
discovery that, in making ethical statements, we are
covering over and losing sight of precisely that
which we are trying to elucidate. In other words, the
basic problem with the use of ethical statements and
directives, as with all philosophical language, is
precisely the fact that it aims to enlighten, to shed
light, to provide clarity. Derrida (1978: 104) makes it
clear that, despite its best intentions, phenomenology also perpetrates this violence of light. This
blinds us to our own incapacity for ethical relationships with others (Naas 2003: 98). The language of
ethics cannot critique ethical violence without using
precisely such violence. One can trace this violence
in the language of corporate codes. Codes are
necessarily part of the way corporations attempt to
think about/address their relationship with others.
Through them, the corporation and its agents seek
to shed some light on the murkiness of corporate
moral dilemmas. The corporation wants to signal its
ethical intent to the stakeholders it interacts with,
and it wants to provide employees and other
corporate agents with normative guidance that
would guarantee predictable ethical responses. It is
precisely in this search for clarication and predictability that some important aspects of moral
responsiveness are lost.
When Derrida (1992: 24) writes about moral
decisions, he describes it in terms of a trial or an
ordeal. He talks about how any decision is haunted
by the ghost of undecidability. This ghost resides in
our decision, and unsettles any kind of selfassurance that we may have regarding the fairness,
honesty, or benecence of that decision. If that were

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

to disappear, the decision would cease to have been


a decision, and the fairness or honesty that we may
have striven for in making the decision, would be
lost as well. This is the conundrum that something
like justice always eludes our grasp, and if it would
cease to do so, it would no longer be justice. It must
always arrive anew in the coming of the Other as
absolute and unpredictable singularity (Derrida
1994: 33).
It is this singular arrival of the Other that Codes
cannot easily accommodate. Code language tends to
be very general, and it provides moral directives that
tend to avoid the struggle of undecidability. Codes
inevitably display all the trappings of ontology. In
my earlier research (Painter-Morland 2004), I
typically criticized codes for the way in which they
mask the face-to-face relationship. More often than
not, codes draw on the universal principles that can
be derived from Kantian deontology, and operate
under the assumption that employees are independent, rational subjects and that all stakeholder
demands can be rationally determined. My concern
was that in this process, the particular is effaced by
the application of some universal principles. It can
be argued that codes efface the Other in naming this
Other in terms of the stake or the role that they
have or play in furthering corporate (self) interest.
Levinas (1985: 86) describes this as the tendency to
confront the Other as a character, someone who
fullls a role or has a certain social standing. If we
look at others in this way, we do not acknowledge
the innite ethical demand that is placed on us. For
Levinas, the face of the Other has meaning all by
itself it is straightaway ethical and, therefore, not
something one can ignore.
No doubt, code statements may be well intentioned, but it becomes clear that the parameters
within which ethical responsibility is described are
structured in relation to the business purpose at
hand. From a Levinasian perspective, codes translate
the Other in terms of the self, making them palatable,
safe. They incorporate and thereby obliterate the
challenges made to the self. Note for instance, the
following excerpt from a multinational corporations
(Anglo Americans) set of business principles
As a good corporate citizen, we respect the dignity
and human rights of individuals and communities

269

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

everywhere we operate. We strive to make a lasting


contribution to the well-being of these communities while generating strong investor returns.
Indeed, our long-term success depends on taking
into account the needs of all stakeholders.
(http://www.angloamerican.co.uk/)

The stakes of the other others are clearly dened in


terms of the long-term interests of the self. But could
Codes help its agents to see the others whom it
engages in terms other than that of corporate selfinterest? The question here is whether it would
sufce to rephrase code statements in a way that
would subvert the violence of such instrumental
formulations. The answer that Derrida would
probably lead us towards is no. All philosophical
language perpetrates this violence or as Derrida
(1978: 114) puts it, all languages do combat within
the light. It is, however, in acknowledging and
accepting this inevitable violence that the selfquestioning that resists ethical violence is precipitated. That is, if the encounter with the Other and
the question of justice towards all the other others
succeeds in disrupting the ontological closure of the
self as said. I now explore the implications of this
disruption for agency.

Disrupting conceptions of agency


Decentering the subject
The process of self-questioning will only become
possible within the corporate environment if a
paradigm shift occurs within corporate self-understanding. As such, it is important to address the
question of how agency should be understood. To
do so, I would like to explore Derridas thoughts on
ethical subjectivity. Derrida (1997: 6061) draws on
Levinasian ethics in describing an ethical subject
very different from the autonomous rational agent
of Kantian ethics. Where, for Kant, the sovereign
ethical subject is one that determines the moral law
autonomously according to rational precepts, the
ethical subject in Levinas (1979: 122123) is one who
is on the receiving end of the innite ethical demand
of the Other, and in fact is substituted by the Other.
As Levinas (1985: 100) explains, our subjectivity
has to be understood as being held hostage. It is
because of the fact that the face of the Other makes

270

disinterestedness impossible that we come into our


own as subjects. Ethical sovereignty here is not that
of self-determining freedom, but rather responsiveness in relation to others.
Subjectivity and reason, in Derridas reading of
Levinas earlier work, is positioned as welcome.
The ego becomes self in the realization that it is
neither sovereign nor independent, but that the self
resides in a separate, even foreign world that is not
an extension of it but that it needs. The world
welcomes the subject and has in return to be
welcomed by it. This ethical subject can therefore
be described as a self that is radically dependent on
its world and is constituted in relationship with the
Other. The Levinasian sovereign subject therefore
lives from the world, without freedom. Yet, as
Bankovsky (2005: 157) points out, freedom is
needed in ethics, but of a kind that is different from
Kants, in that it does not take place in the domain
of abstract reection. Freedom becomes freedom
from ones egoistic self in the relationship towards
the Other. In Derridas (1997: 57) reading, I come
into existence as the ethical subject that is free and
rational as a result of the world that welcomes me,
and to which I am at the very same time hostage. As
such, the ethical subject is a host that must welcome
the arrival of the Other, but at the very same time,
this subject is held hostage by the innite demand of
the Other. The unique, singular Other paradoxically
also confronts me and also draws in his/her own
replacement, i.e. all the other others. This substitution announces the destiny of our subjectivity as
both host and hostage of others (Derrida 1997: 110).
What this would mean in terms of the use of
corporate codes is a redenition of moral agency
that implies decentering corporate entities and their
agents. Moral agency comes into existence in
relationship with a world of others and cannot be
sustained without it. The corporation should no
longer assume that it can function as an independent
entity that structures and orders its relationships in
terms of rational precepts. The ethical subject only
exists in its relationships with others, and as such, its
identity emerges in interaction with others. Reguring corporate agency as spoken by, or reconstituted
by, the other(s) presents an ongoing challenge to the
corporation and those operating within it. This
challenge entails the ongoing questioning of where

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

the corporation nds itself and the identication of


the others on whom it relies to give it any sense of
agency in the rst place. The Other, and its reference
to multiple other others, reminds the corporation of
the innite demands that relationships entail.
Because the agent is not a self-contained whole,
but a relational entity that is sometimes on the
receiving end rather than the giving end of
interactions, it brings us to rethink corporate social
responsibility in terms of corporate responsiveness.
The terms within which the corporation gives and
interacts can no longer be thought of in terms of its
reputational value, its marketing agendas, its production, and sales targets. This is not moral agency.
Moral agency entails responding to the others on
whom any attempt at ethical behavior depends. One
can describe it as openness towards the stranger,
who questions the self in and through its arrival
(Naas 2003: 113).

Responsiveness
This new understanding of corporate agency has
further implications. It requires an interrogation of
the relationship between the universal demand for
justice and the contingent moral responsiveness that
justice requires. Simon Critchleys (2004: 178)
discussion of the distance between Derrida and
Levinas, as it becomes evident in Adieu, sheds light
on the way in which Derrida views the interaction
between what is possible in terms of historically
contingent ethical responsiveness and the universal
ethical demand, which could never be fullled.
Derridas insights challenge us to rethink the
relationship between the ethics of hospitality, or
the innite ethical demand of the Other, and the
politics or law of hospitality. Derrida (1997: 115)
explains that ethics enjoins a politics and a law.
However, the political and juridical content always
remains undetermined or still to be determined
beyond the conceptual frameworks that our knowledge structures afford us. This can only be done
through each unique persons singular response to a
specic situation. As such, it is the ability to think
the rule, the universal, in specic terms. The
relationship between the universal and the specic
is affected here in a way that does not subscribe to
the logic of explication-application.

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

As Critchley (2004: 180) explains, the rule itself


takes shape within that decision; it is not formulated
beforehand. Yet the criterion by which the rule
emerges is universal. This universal criterion for
ethics has a deeply Levinasian inection. Derrida
explains that for Levinas, each response is unique,
but at the same time a priori exposed to substitution
(Derrida 1997: 115). Within ethics, it is also the
point where we confront the question of what to do
or how to proceed. It is not so much the application of some generalized truth to a specic problem,
but rather the invention of an ethical response that
displays some congruence to the normative framework that exists and yet can and should never be
consumed by or conated with it. There are no
foundational truths to appeal to for certainty. In
fact, the foundation or the rule is often problematized by the concrete Other who is affected by
following clear-cut procedures. The political is
disruptive and, as such, risky. What is required is
a certain responsive inventiveness (inventive being
Critchleys term). The paradox of this invention, as
Critchley points out, is that the non-foundational
nature of the invention of ethical responsiveness in
the political does not render it arbitrary. As Derrida
described it, the demand of the Other dictates from
within me; it obligates me in such a way that it
succeeds in activating what we would call conscience. Yet the rule has to be formulated anew, in
reaction to the singular, contextualized demand of
the Other. As such, the response is never determined
or determinable in advance. Ethics entails a formal
injunction that remains irrefusable, although the
specic response must always be taken anew
(Derrida 1997: 199).
There are distinct differences in how Derrida and
Levinas view the relationship between the ethical
and the political. Derrida acknowledges that the
Other demands innite, unconditional hospitality,
and yet argues that this innite demand must
precipitate an active engagement with conditional
political arrangements. Ethical language is violent,
but a world without it, and without politics and the
institutional challenges that can be leveled only in
and through language, is equally violent. By
acknowledging the third, and by raising the question
of justice, one operates within the realm of calculability, comparability, and as such, politics. Para-

271

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

doxically, as soon as a third, and with it politics,


comes to interrupt the face-to-face relation, the
innite ethical demand is lost. In a sense, the innite
demand for justice is lost precisely when it is
introduced, as soon as the question is raised. It
cannot be raised without being in some sense lost.
Yet what is important is that as soon as the question
of justice arises, the singular question of conscience
also emerges. This stirring up of the conscience also
creates the opening for an innite number of further
ethical questions to arise. In fact, the practice of selfquestioning is initiated in and through this process.
In a very real sense, the universal question of justice
can only come into being in and through the
singular demand of the rst Other and the other
others that have to be brought into the equation.
Although the question of justice interrupts the
ethical relation, it also serves to disrupt any sense
of complacency and self-assuredness and therefore
succeeds in the interruption of the political (or
corporate) status quo.

Contra-diction
For Derrida (1997: 30), the paradox of singular
Other, which also at the same time speaks of an
innite ethical demand for multiple others, entails a
contra-diction. The inclusion of a general demand
for justice from all these others seems to contradict
the singularity of the Other whose face makes the
immediate appeal. I think this has important
implications for the functioning of corporate Codes.
Could the articulation of ethical obligations in
Codes serve to interrupt and disrupt business as
usual and place a more general concern for justice
on the corporate agenda? In the case of most
corporate Codes, certainly not. As we have seen,
Codes have precisely the opposite effect, i.e. that of
reassurance, reputation enhancement, and perception management. But could Codes contribute
something else? If so, wherein would the possibility
for disruption lie? Derrida makes it clear that every
law or commandment conrms and encloses the
possibility of the question. Yet, there is very little of
this questioning left in the functioning of corporate
Codes. Something of the critical interaction between
philosophy as the power and adventure of the
question itself and philosophical texts that function

272

as events or turning points within this adventure has


to be recaptured (Derrida 1978: 99).
What I have argued so far is that the possibility
that some formulation of the question of the third is
important in understanding the broader ethical
injunction that any encounter with another person
should precipitate. I believe that this broader ethical
injunction could possibly be discovered within
Codes. What would be necessary is to explore how
the third may be made manifest in corporate
environments. If this is possible, the questioning
that is precipitated by this third may help the
corporation ask the right questions: of itself, of the
Other, of ethics itself. The Third as the very
possibility of counting or reckoning (Naas 2003:
107) may present us with a way to rethink the
accountability of corporations and its agents. It not
only extends but in fact radicalizes the notion of
moral responsibility. To a large extent, calculability,
reasonability, etc. are necessary to engage in
business ethics. Without it, the innite, the ineffable
cannot be expressed, safeguarded, or advanced.
Ethics requires politics if it in itself is not to become
violent. To say nothing, to make no statement,
would be to subscribe to asymmetry, non-light, and
commandment (Derrida 1978: 133).
The insight that Derridas responses to Levinas
precipitates is that one cannot avoid philosophical
language altogether. Derrida (1978: 185) makes it
clear that if one decides not to speak, the worst kind
of violence silently inhabits whatever peace one
seeks to procure in the process. He wants to push us
beyond Levinas insistence on the preontological
nature of ethics, in order to move us towards the
possibility of a politics. Derrida (1978: 190) explains
that the Other interrupts ontology, but the Third
interrupts this very interruption in order to return to
ontology with all its terms. This brings us to ask
more political questions regarding how some sense
of justice may be procured, however incompletely. It
allows the welcoming of the Other, and the other
others, whose existence may put me and my social,
political, and economic actions in question. Naas
(2003: 105) argues that with the question that arises
in and through the third, intentional consciousness,
thematization, objectication, understanding, and
even calculation become possible. Without it, a
consciousness of the ethical question, conscience

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

itself, does not present itself. The question, according to Naas, is located at the threshold between
ethics and politics. The Third, and the question,
allow for an intelligibility that presents the possibility of political and, as I will argue, institutional
challenges. The questioning precipitated by the third
allows justice to be thought. It allows us to navigate
the ethical space between the immediate ethical
demand occurring between me and the Other and
the question of justice for, and accountability
towards, all the other others. The fact that this
broader political, juridical, and institutional
question is raised puts the one (the person or
institution) asking the question in question. It
precipitates the question: Who am I? or, Who are
we as a corporation?

Towards questioning Codes


Facing the Other
The problem may be that the possibility of using
philosophical language only ever opens up as a
result of the language of the face, which constitutes
the ethical relation. Because Codes tend to efface,
instead of facilitate face-to-face relations, one may
ask whether this does not foreclose the possibility of
ethics. Yet, we have seen that the ethics of the faceto-face encounter is also reliant on the existence of a
language within which any response would take
place. While it is clear that much of business
interactions are faceless, and that Codes could
certainly efface the Other by describing their
interest in terms of corporate self-interest, one
should explore the terms within which, and the
means through which, face-to-face encounters come
into existence in the rst place. Within code
language, the possibility of multiple face-to-face
encounters may lie hidden from view.
What would be necessary is to explore the
possibility of the welcoming that could take place
(in)(through)(as) self-questioning. To do so, one
may have to lodge oneself within code language, and
use this position to instigate questions that allow the
moral conscience to be spurred into action. Within
Codes may dwell a set of questions that could
destroy the self-contained corporate ego from within. Only the use of language offers room for this

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

kind of problematization, or contestation of the self,


of the understanding of the self, to take place. As
such, the language of self-interest may be precisely
the point where we have to start the self-questioning,
so as to provide us with ways in which the moral
conscience may be stimulated.
The issue becomes how we sustain the practice of
questioning within corporate ethical language. How
do we move away from the self-assuredness that
characterizes so many corporate Codes and compliance programs? We move away by starting
precisely from within this problematic language, by
using it to instigate a questioning regarding justice
that may succeed in disrupting business as usual. An
example may shed light on how this may take place.
Codes tend to identify stakeholders, and yes, these
are typically chosen in terms of their relevance to or
potential impact on corporate self-interest. Yet, it
may be precisely these specic, proper names that
reveal the improper, and provide an entrance to the
universal demand for justice. For instance, certain
Codes attempt to identify stakeholders in more
specic terms, i.e. in terms of their role-responsibility. One can argue that this is a typical example of
how Codes translate the Other into the terms of
corporate self-interest, but perhaps it does something more in the process. Framing the Other in
terms of his or her role, her proper stakeholder
name, also provides a glimpse of a life that this
person leads outside of her instrumental relationship
towards the corporation. The stakeholders role in
society also names, or at least alludes to, the
relationship that this person has with multiple other
others. To be sure, instrumentality is not to be
avoided the mother that Johnson&Johnson refers
to in their Credo remains a customer, who buys their
products for her children but at the same time the
relationships between mother and child, and
mothers to their community, to the natural environment of today, and through their children to the
future, transcend the instrumental relationship and
present a higher challenge of justice in much more
radical terms. In mentioning the name, the idea of
the proper name is in effect also effaced, destabilizing the self-assuredness it originally allowed the
corporation. The immediate purpose of serving the
customer as stakeholder opens up the question
as to the broader purposes corporations can and

273

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

should consider. What kind of world is created


through the availability of certain products? What
kinds of value-priorities are communicated in and
through our performance management system for
employees? What kind of societal risks are embedded in corporate risk strategies? The current
world-wide nancial crisis may prompt us to
consider why these questions were never asked.
This kind of questioning would also entail
including within the Other those who are typically
not identied as stakeholders those without name
(linked to national or economic status), but not
without face, nor without stake. As such, the
relationship between ethics and politics would be
one of anarchy. Not the kind of anarchy that
promotes disruption for the sake of disruption, but
rather one that celebrates the anarchic nature of
both ethics and politics. Critchley (2004: 182) argues
that politics has for too long been obsessed by the
declaration of the foundational, the original, and the
preoccupation with sovereignty, i.e. the archic.
What would the anarchic relationship between
ethics and (corporate) politics entail within corporations? To my mind, it can be thought in terms of
challenges to both agency and epistemology. In the
rst place, we saw that corporate agency should be
(re)dened in and through its capacity for responsiveness. Corporate agency has been compared with
individual moral agency in a number of respects: its
decision-making, the impact that these decisions and
actions have on others, and the concomitant
accountability (French 1979). In all these respects,
corporations should allow their existence and their
identity to be shaped by the others that they interact
with. This means reacting, responding, and being
surprised by others in making decisions, thinking
through relationships of dependence and accepting
accountability. This is not a concept foreign to
business, as a successful business model is responsive
to context and tailored towards tapping into the
needs and demands of stakeholders. The difference,
however, is that these needs and demands cannot
always be thought in the terms that would suit the
corporation. Shareholder prot-maximization can
no longer be viewed as the sole variable in dening
corporate self-interest and success. In fact, talking
about corporate identity without taking into account the interests of others, and the others others,

274

becomes inconceivable. In terms of epistemology,


certain caveats with regard to the moral statements
that Codes make are in order. Codes can remind,
gesture in the direction of justice, honesty, but can
never give it political and institutional content in any
nal sense. This may be something that corporate
executives will feel distinctly uncomfortable with,
but this discomfort may be an acknowledgement of
the ethical demand that has to be embraced for
ethics to have any meaning at all.

Specificity
The objection that may be leveled against my
suggestions is that Codes do not sustain this
questioning. One aspect of this problem has to do
with the tendency of Codes to describe relationships
between the corporation and its others in terms of
the corporations main purpose of prot-maximization. Instead of referring to the mothers, fathers,
nurses, and doctors, as Johnson & Johnsons Credo
does, other corporations refer to their stakeholders
in very general, instrumental terms such as customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders. The
generalized terms that Codes use when describing an
organizational stakeholder do not take account of
the relational role that this specic stakeholder plays
within a broader context. This stakeholder has
purposes that go far beyond the singular lens of
prot-maximization that corporations use and
moral responsiveness should at least allow us to
acknowledge this. Could we therefore argue that
there is something to be said for the specicity that
Johnson & Johnson uses? I think there is. It provides
a sharper perspective on the others who have to be
thought when engaging in a relationship with a
specic Other, as it creates at least some context,
some sense of the relational reality within which we
all function. These further relationships are not
necessarily immediately instrumental with regard to
the corporations purposes, and as such, may allow
it to recognize, calculate, and respond to the interest
of others who may not be immediately identied as
stakeholders but who could play an important role
in broadening the corporations sense of purpose,
and as such, strengthen the moral responsiveness of
its agents. Judith Butler (2004: 3031) makes the
important point that our moral agency is always

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

already shaped by others, even by those we cannot


identify and understand immediately. She argues
that foreclosing relationships with these strangers
denies us access to a very important part of our own
moral agency. It robs us of our moral responsiveness. Antjie Krog (2008) comments on how relational agency comes into being by exploring the
African notion of ubuntu. The notion of ubuntu
binds individual interest more closely to the interest
of society as a whole. If this relational understanding of agency could become a reality within
corporations, corporate responsibility may become
less of an add-on and more part of corporate
identity as such. Corporations may come to
recognize the implications of a limited understanding of its purposes and be drawn beyond the
restrictive scope of prot-driven instrumentality.

Consideration of tone and style


Another part of this problem is the fact that the style
or the tone of corporate Codes is typically directive.
The challenge would be to avoid describing the
others interest in terms of the self or at least to avoid
questioning the other from the perspective of the self.
Would it help to formulate Codes more directly as
questions posed to the self? Maybe, but this will only
go some way towards redirecting the ethical appeal to
the self. Even in posing questions to ourselves, we
cannot anticipate the question that the Other might
pose. The most important aspect of self-questioning
is the point where the violence of ones own
statements becomes evident. As such, helping corporations analyze the violence of their own Codes
statements as they stand may be the most important
element in the process. It is precisely the acknowledgement of this violence that could become a nonviolent gesture. The corporation is unapologetic
about the fact that providing returns for shareholders
remains its prime objective. The needs of other
stakeholders are only mentioned as important in
terms of sustaining its long-term prot-making
activities. One has to start with this statement and
the violence it entails in order to pose the broader
question of justice. In this statement itself lies the key
to how the corporation understands itself and others,
how it views property and rights. An ethical analysis
of any company would be useless without this

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

information, and its ethical obligation will remain


words on paper without a contestation or contradiction of this self-understanding. The possibilities of
contra-diction within Codes are by no means selfevident or obvious. They have to be nurtured and
explored. In order to do so, some consideration
should be given to stylistic and performative aspects
of code language and implementation. Generating an
appeal for self-consciousness through attention to
style and tone is very important. Furthermore,
creating opportunities for meeting others face to face
in conditions where the corporation and its agents do
not necessarily set the terms of engagement would be
necessary. An example of this is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Ulysses program for leaders. It was
launched in 2001 in order to prepare PwC employees
to act as role models for diverse and responsible
leadership. Employees are sent to remote areas in
developing countries to help whatever local communities of NGOs there deem necessary to serve the
communities most immediate purposes. Those returning bear witness to their transformation they all
attest to coming to view the world in a vastly
different way and bringing that openness to understanding and furthering the purposes of others back
into their workplaces.

Historical considerations
Codes that precipitate the importance of questioning
must display some awareness of the historical
context and the way in which the corporation and
its agents were and are situated via others in the
contexts within which they operate. In the preamble
to its Business principles, Anglo American states
that it is a global company, and that, as such, their
responsibilities extend beyond national borders.
This statement may be intended to promise consistent ethical behavior regardless of where the
company operates. Unfortunately, it also serves to
avoid the possibility that the company may be
confronted with contextual contingencies that put its
self-assuredness at risk. The universal commitment
to universal rights, which Anglo American makes,
must always be challenged by the particularities of
the contexts within which it operates. In fact, the
universal statement only makes sense when a specic
context precipitates this universal demand as a

275

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

question that requires a response. For instance,


Anglo Americans statement regarding their status
as a global company belies the fact that this
company has its origins in what is still considered to
be a developing country. Its global nature was
forged from a complicated history originating in
South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in the early
1900s. What would it mean for this company to
acknowledge its debts to these countries? Not only
did it benet from South Africas natural resources,
but the Apartheid state of the day played an
important role in creating the ideal conditions for
labor exploitation. In Anglo Americans list of
guiding values they make the statement: We take
ownership of our decisions, our actions and our
results. We deliver on our promises and acknowledge
our mistakes. Above all we never pass blame.
Whether Anglo American is really willing to deliver
on these value commitments is not so clear at all. In
this regard, see for instance analyses by Phillip
Mattera (2008), as well as by the BBC, of various
allegations against Anglo American regarding the
corporations unwillingness to take accountability
for past actions. In its Code, Anglo American is
eager to promise a prosperous future and a positive
legacy, but can it really do so without acknowledging its less illustrious history? The corporations
guiding values are supported with a set of business
principles, in which the corporation makes the
following statement: We also recognise the need
for careful environmental stewardship. We actively
seek to minimise the impact of our operations and
provide a positive legacy for generations to come.
This statement, however, remains meaningless if no
account is given of the impacts that this corporation
has already had in building its empire and the legacy
that this company therefore already owns.

Sustaining reiteration
Another suggestion regarding the possibilities of
sustaining an ethic of questioning within Code
initiatives is that Codes should not remain stagnant.
This is by no means a new idea in Business Ethics,
but it remains unclear how Codes should remain
living documents in practice. Many corporations
argue that their commitment to certain basic
principles should remain unchanged over time, but

276

the danger is that this may signal complacency


rather than an active conscience. Rethinking and
reiterating ethical commitments over time is one way
in which corporations could allow themselves to be
challenged by changing interactions with others. The
problem may be that instead of viewing ethical
commitments as a way to reconsider the corporate
self, Codes tend to become part of corporate
branding. A stagnated view of the self is not
conducive to the process of self-questioning.
The notion of iterability in Derridas work
supports the practice of questioning. By emphasizing
that all concepts are iterable, Derrida (1990: 145)
draws our attention to the paradoxical fact that a
concept has to be repeatable in order to be a concept
at all, and yet each repetition is also always different.
Because it only has meaning in relation to other
entities in a specic time and space, it can never be
repeated in exactly the same way. In terms of Codes,
the iterability of an ethical statement means that one
can never arrive at a meaningful ethical response
that is nal. It always has to be reformulated in
response to a specic set of relationships. We can
therefore never rest assured that ethics has been
made present in our code formulations. Instead, we
should always question what exactly we mean when
we utter certain principles and when we identify
certain responsibilities. And even in this questioning,
we should be aware of the risk of always asking the
questions in our own terms. Does this mean that we
should just change Codes all the time? Well, yes and
no. It is not so much about the changes than about a
certain kind of questioning that persists over time.
Yes, small changes to wording do indicate that
corporations give their ethical commitment some
thought over time. See for instance the changes
made over time to Johnson & Johnsons Credo
(http://www.jnj.com/connect/about-jnj/jnj-credo). The
question, however, remains whether the company
indeed succeeded in challenging their own self-understanding and their own grasp of responsibility in
such a way that it fosters moral responsiveness.

Conclusion
This paper does not argue for the abolition of
Codes. Codes present us with ways of drawing on

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

what both the philosophical and the corporate


traditions have to offer in terms of thinking about
corporations ethical obligations towards others. We
cannot start elsewhere. This does not mean that
there is not much to be questioned in the practice of
codication. Yet, it could be precisely in this
questioning that ethical responsiveness may begin.
As such, we should be willing to recognize the
specic form of instrumental logic that informs the
way in which concepts like stakeholder interest and
corporate responsibility are often understood and
practiced. Codes have been used in the interest of
corporate reputations and strategic business advantage, and as such, translated the interests of others
into the monetary medium of corporate self-interest.
Ethical responsiveness seeks other purposes, which
cannot be formulated and circumscribed in advance
in a unilateral manner. Rather, it involves relationships that decenter the corporation from the
stakeholder map and makes it one institution among
many that interact in the interest of other purposes.
If Codes could be redirected towards establishing a
relational orientation towards others, these purposes
may be questioned from the perspective of the
others. These purposes could, and in fact should, go
beyond prot-interest. These are the purposes that
may emerge when various individuals and institutions start thinking about the world they are
creating or perpetuating, and evaluating whether
this is indeed a world worth striving for. It may
prompt corporations to proactively change direction, explore new products or services, or to engage
in new business partnerships. It is a questioning that
goes to the heart of what is valued in society and
how corporations cooperate towards protecting,
nurturing, and furthering these priorities. It is also
a process that is never complete, but requires the
ongoing exploration of new possibilities. It also
involves the possibility of recoil, of rejecting, or
challenging the way things were done in the past.
Purposes are never nal; they are always relationally
constructed over time. That is if, and only if, we are
willing to sustain the relational bonds that allow us
to formulate them in the rst place.
Questioning Codes may play a role in this process.
It may allow and stimulate corporations and its
agents to ask some very important questions on an
ongoing basis. These questions take cognizance of

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

the fact that corporations are established over time


and impact our world in signicant ways, and that
ethics is all about being morally responsive to this
changing environment. Some questions that may
inform this process are:
 How did we get where we are? What did we
sacrice in the process and who and what may
we have hurt? What are our responsibilities in
this regard?
 Who are we in relationship with, and how do we
make sure we make positive contributions to the
lives of all we are involved with? How can we be
more responsive to those around us and to the
world we live in?
 Who do we impact who may not have a voice
with which to communicate with us? Are we
perpetuating exclusions and inequalities in our
boardrooms, our everyday business discussions,
in the marketplace, or within society as a whole?
 Where do we want to be in the future and what
are the value priorities that inform these goals?
 How can we formulate these value priorities as
open-ended questions informing everyday decision-making?
 Should we readjust our purposes because of
changes to our sense of what is valuable?
 What are the implications of the risks we take for
others in society? Should we not reconsider the
moral acceptability of these risks?
Exactly how these questions should be explored
within corporations will require more research into
various aspects of corporate life. The rst area of
research pertains to the divide that seems to exist
between the corporate social responsibility literature (see in this regard the important work of
Rasche 2010, in this issue) and that of internal ethics
management within Business Ethics. We may want
to consider whether the current disconnect between
external and internal corporate ethics initiatives
could be the result of a lack of moral responsiveness
that remains unchallenged within both Business
Ethics and CSR. I believe that this divide stems from
the strictly instrumental orientation that many
Business Ethics interventions display. This, as I
have argued in this paper, should be questioned.

277

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

Inevitably, there will be some resistance to this


questioning, as the individual academics and practitioners involved in various ethics functions may
have vested interests in keeping various silos intact
and maintaining certain instrumental arguments in
corporate interactions.
A second area of research relates to Code
language and implementation. Exploring the more
metaphoric and performative aspects of language
may allow researchers to tap into the tacit knowledge components that inform moral responsiveness.
Lip-service is often paid to the importance of
maintaining living codes, but most Codes still end
up on plaques or in glossy printed documents that
are seldom read. Based on the insights of this paper,
research could be performed on whether the ongoing
process of questioning may not supplement or
indeed replace the practice of distributing printed
corporate Codes.
We also have to confront a series of second-order
questions that may pose serious challenges to our
capacity to even get to the list of questions
mentioned above. For instance: Are we in fact
capable of adequately exploring and formulating our
own value-priorities, either individually or collectively? Are they not hidden in the depths of our
psyche where corporate interventions cannot and in
fact should not reach? Two recently published
volumes, entitled Psyche I & II, present us with
Derridas thoughts in this regard. A second set of
second-order questions relate to the structure-agency
problem. We live our lives in institutions, and we are
fundamentally shaped in, through and by them.
What needs to happen politically, and institutionally,
especially in terms of global dynamics, to sustain
human beings capacity for questioning? In facing all
these questions, and in stimulating further questions,
Derridas broad oeuvre has much to offer. It is my
hope that the discussion between business ethics and
philosophical gures like Derrida will continue far
beyond what is offered here.

References
Anglo American. 2010. Guiding Values. http://www.
angloamerican.co.uk/aa/about/guiding_values/ (accessed February 15 2010).

278

Bankovsky, M. 2005. Derrida brings Levinas to


Kant. Philosophy Today, 49:2, 156170.
Bevan, D. and Corvellec, H. 2007. The impossibility
of corporate ethics: for a Levinasian approach to
managerial ethics. Business Ethics: A European
Review, 16:3, 208219.
Butler, J. 2004. Precarious Life. The Powers of
Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.
Clegg, S., Kornberger, M. and Rhodes, C. 2007.
Organizational ethics, decision making, undecidability. Sociological Review, 55:2, 393409.
Critchley, S. 2004. Five problems in Levinass view of
politics and the sketch of a solution to them.
Political Theory, 32:2, 172185.
Derrida, J. 1978. Violence and metaphysics. In
Derrida, J. (Ed.), Writing and Difference: 97192.
London: Routledge.
Derrida, J. 1990. Limited Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Derrida, J. 1992. Force of law: the mystical foundation of authority. In Cornell, D., Roseneld, M.
and Carlson, D.G. (Eds.), Deconstruction and the
Possibility of Justice: 367. London: Routledge.
Derrida, J. 1994. Specters of Marx. New York, NY:
Routledge.
Derrida, J. 1997. Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Fisher, C. 2001. Managers perceptions of ethical
codes: dialectics and dynamics. Business Ethics: A
European Review, 10:2, 145156.
Freeman, R.E. 1984. Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Boston MA: Pitman.
French, P. 1979. The corporation as a moral
person. American Philosophical Quarterly, 16:3,
207215.
Johnson and Johnson. 2010. Credo. Available at
http://www.jnj.com/connect/about-jnj/jnj-credo (accessed February 15 2010).
Jones, C. 2003a. As if business ethics were possible,
within such limits. Organisation, 10:2, 223248.
Jones, C. 2003b. Theory after the postmodern
condition. Organisation, 10:3, 503525.
Jones, C., Parker, M. and ten Bos, R. 2005. For
Business Ethics. London: Routledge.
Kjonstad, B. and Willmott, H. 1995. Business ethics:
restrictive or empowering?. Journal of Business
Ethics, 14:6, 445464.
Krog, A. 2008. This thing called reconciliation . . .
forgiveness as part of interconnectedness-towardswholeness. South African Journal of Philosophy,
27:4, 353366.

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Business Ethics: A European Review


Volume 19 Number 3 July 2010

Levinas, E. 1979. Totality and Innity. Pittsburgh, PA:


Duquesne University Press (Translated by A.
Lingis).
Levinas, E. 1985. Ethics and Innity: conversations with
Philippe Nemo. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press (Translated by R.A. Cohen).
Levinas, E. 1993. Outside the Subject. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press (Translated by M.B.
Smith).
Loe, T.W., Ferrell, L. and Mansfeld, P. 2000. A
review of empirical studies assessing ethical decision
making in business. Journal of Business Ethics, 25:3,
185204.
Mattera, P. 2008. Giant Mining Firms Social
Responsibility Claims: Rhetoric or Reality? Posted
1 August. Available at http://www.corpwatch.org/
article.php?id=15146 (accessed February 15 2010).
Naas, M. 2003. Taking on the Tradition. Jacques
Derrida and the Legacies of Deconstruction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Painter-Morland, M.J. 2004. Why global business
ethics codes dont work and what to replace them
with. In Hooker, J. and Madsen, P. (Eds.),
International Corporate Responsibility: Exploring
the Issues: 193204. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie
Mellon University Press.
Painter-Morland, M.J. 2008. Business Ethics as Practice: Ethics as the Everyday Business of Business.
London: Cambridge University Press.

r 2010 The Author


Journal compilation r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Pater, A. and Van Gils, A. 2003. Stimulating ethical


decision-making in a business context: effects of
ethical and professional codes. European Management Journal, 21:6, 762772.
Rasche, A. 2010. The limits of corporate responsibility
standards. Business Ethics: A European Review,
19:3, 278289.
Roberts, J. 2001. Corporate governance and the
ethics of Narcissus. Business Ethics Quarterly, 11:1,
109127.
Schwartz, M. 2000. Why ethical codes constitute an
unconscionable regression. Journal of Business
Ethics, 23:2, 173184.
Stevens, B. 1996. Using the competing values framework to assess corporate ethical codes. Journal of
Business Communication, 33:1, 7184.
Stevens, B. 1999. Communicating ethical values: a
study of employee perceptions. Journal of Business
Ethics, 20:2, 113120.
Stevens, B. 2008. Corporate ethical codes: effective
instruments for inuencing behavior. Journal of
Business Ethics, 78:4, 601609.
Stevens, J.M., Steensma, H.K., Harrison, D.A. and
Cochran, P.L. 2005. Symbolic or substantive
document? The inuence of ethics codes on nancial
executives decisions. Strategic Management Journal, 26:2, 181195.
ten Bos, R. 1997. Essai: business ethics and Bauman
ethics. Organization Studies, 18:6, 9971014.

279