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Justice in entrepreneurial organizations


  • Scott L. Newbert
  • Michael D. Stouder


Purpose - Justice is a traditional and central moral criterion in society, and is determined, expressed, and assessed differently in different social settings. The purpose of this paper is to propose a justice perspective from contemporary political philosophy in order to explore and prescribe ethical justice behavior in the context of entrepreneurial firms. Design/methodology/approach - John Rawls' influential political theory of justice is examined and then discussed as a potential guide for the ethical decision making of founders of new organizations. Findings - The empirical realities of entrepreneurs are curiously analogous to Rawlsian choosers in the original position as they operate under a similar veil of ignorance. As a development of the authors' argument, three entrepreneur-inspired justice principles are suggested. Social implications - A society of entrepreneurs who value fairness with regard to their stakeholders is likely to shape the business environment in ways that figure into assumptions of business decisions for all organizations, which may in turn result in a society in which all organizational stakeholders are treated fairly. Originality/value - The paper shows that a Rawlsian justice perspective is plausible, illuminating, and potentially useful when applied to the entrepreneurial context.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott L. Newbert & Michael D. Stouder, 2011. "Justice in entrepreneurial organizations," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 453-465, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:38:y:2011:i:5:p:453-465

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moreno-Ternero, Juan D. & Roemer, John E., 2008. "The Veil Of Ignorance Violates Priority," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(02), pages 233-257, July.
    2. David B. Audretsch & A. Roy Thurik, 2000. "Capitalism and democracy in the 21st Century: from the managed to the entrepreneurial economy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 17-34.
    3. Edward Freeman, R. & Evan, William M., 1990. "Corporate governance: A stakeholder interpretation," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 337-359.
    4. Richard Marens, 2007. "Returning to Rawls: Social Contracting, Social Justice, and Transcending the Limitations of Locke," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 75(1), pages 63-76, September.
    5. Andrew Henley, 2005. "Job Creation by the Self-employed: The Roles of Entrepreneurial and Financial Capital," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 175-196, September.
    6. Brock, Gillian, 1998. "Are Corporations Morally Defensible?," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 703-721, October.
    7. Child, James W. & Marcoux, Alexei M., 1999. "Freeman and Evan: Stakeholder Theory in the Original Position," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 207-223, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Little, Cedric & Felzensztein, Christian & Gimmon, Eli & Muñoz, Pablo, 2015. "The business management of the Chilean salmon farming industry," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 108-117.

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    Entrepreneurialism; Political theory; Ethics;


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