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Ethics, Economic Organisation and the Social Contract

  • Lorenzo Sacconi

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Universitˆ of Trento)

This chapter introduces a notion of social/ethical norm that integrates its description as a self- sustaining regularity of behavior with the normative meanings of the statements by which a norm is formulated in the moral language. This definition is applied to organizational ethics where the main problem Ð abuse of authority - is identified with the help of a critical reading of the new-institutional economic theory of the firm. Given a game theoretical definition of an institution, it is then shown that only by integrating it with the social contract as shared mode of reasoning the process of convergence to the beliefs system that backs an equilibrium institution may be started. Thus the chapter illustrates the egalitarian social contract as both an impartial justification for organizational constitutions and as an equilibrium selection device. It is shown that equilibrium selection through the social contract solves the problem of legitimization of authority in the organizational relation between a non-controlling stakeholder and the entrepreneur or the management of a firm, holding hierarchical authority over the stakeholder. The result is a fiduciary relation between a stakeholder (the trustor) and the owner, director or manager (the trustees) based on fair distribution of the firm surplus. This is the basis for the explanation of corporate social responsibility, understood as an extended model of organizational governance. It generalizes to all the possible ownership forms of the economic organization, giving credit to the idea that social responsibility is an overarching social norm in the field of organization governance.

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Paper provided by Econometica in its series Econometica Working Papers with number wp41.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ent:wpaper:wp41
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  1. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2006. "A Social Contract Account for CSR as an Extended Model of Corporate Governance (I): Rational Bargaining and Justification," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 68(3), pages 259-281, October.
  2. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2012. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance," Econometica Working Papers wp38, Econometica.
  3. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2010. "A Rawlsian View of CSR and the Game Theory of its Implementation (Part I): the Multistakeholder Model of Corporate Governance," Econometica Working Papers wp22, Econometica.
  4. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2004. "A Social Contract Account for CSR as Extended Model of Corporate Governance (Part II): Compliance, Reputation and Reciprocity," Department of Economics Working Papers 0411, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  5. Lorenzo Sacconi & Marco Faillo, 2010. "Conformity, reciprocity and the sense of justice. How social contract-based preferences and beliefs explain norm compliance: the experimental evidence," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 171-201, June.
  6. Binmore, Ken, 2005. "Natural Justice," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195178111.
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