The Freedom-Responsibility Nexus in Management Philosophy and Business Ethics

49 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2010

See all articles by Claus Dierksmeier

Claus Dierksmeier

Global Ethic Institute; Humanistic Management Network

Date Written: December 27, 2010


This article pursues the question whether and inasmuch theories of corporate responsibility are dependent upon conceptions of managerial freedom. I argue that neglect of the idea of freedom in economic theory has led to an inadequate conceptualization of the ethical responsibilities of corporations within management theory. In a critical review of the history of economic ideas, I investigate why and how the idea of freedom was gradually removed from the canon of economics. This reconstruction aims at a deconstruction of certain axioms of neoclassical economics that hamper contemporary efforts in integrating ethics firmly into management education. I intend to show by these deconstructive endeavors that a constructive use of the idea of responsible freedom could correct and complement the current quantitative focus in business theory through qualitative orientations. With the help of qualitative success criteria, I argue, the strategic integration of the tenets of both business ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility into business practice can be advanced by further research.

Keywords: Freedom, Responsibility, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Management Theory, Economics, Homo Economicus, Humanistic Management

JEL Classification: A10, A20, B10, Z10

Suggested Citation

Dierksmeier, Claus, The Freedom-Responsibility Nexus in Management Philosophy and Business Ethics (December 27, 2010). Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Claus Dierksmeier (Contact Author)

Global Ethic Institute ( email )

Waldhäuser Strasse 23
Tübingen, 72076

Humanistic Management Network ( email )

St. Gallen


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