The Twilight of Corporate Strategy: A Comparative Ethical Critique

The Twilight of Corporate Strategy: A Comparative Ethical Critique

The Twilight of Corporate Strategy: A Comparative Ethical Critique

The Twilight of Corporate Strategy: A Comparative Ethical Critique


Nietzsche argued that ideas should be placed in the twilight between the daylight of continued usage and the darkness of irrelevance for humans. This volume distinguishes itself from other books on strategic management in that it explores the corporate strategy concept in an ethical twilight. Gilbert argues that the corporate strategy concept provides hope that the corporation can be interpreted as a context in which humans can flourish, even as the dominant use of that concept denies such hope.


One of the central tasks of business ethics is to show how recent advances in thinking about ethics are connected to the central metaphors of business. Dan Gilbert has done just that for "corporate strategy." He has made a compelling argument that our accounts of corporate strategy assume a dark and demeaning view of human nature. By applying the tools of ethical and literary theory to a host of real business examples, Gilbert causes us to question everything we thought we knew about strategy.

Once our idea of corporate strategy is in sufficient "twilight," we need a new way to think about the central tasks of the corporation and of business activity. Gilbert suggests that we put a theory of justice in the center and that we come to regard organizations as places where human beings enter into purposeful and pragmatic agreements with one another. It is our sense of justice that governs these interactions, not our sense of strategy as it has been developed in management theory.

This is a long and thorough book. It will repay many close readings. Gilbert's background as a businessman and a management scholar who has studied the central texts in philosophical and literary studies makes this a unique book. It deftly combines a practical concern with real managerial problems that comes with living with the problems as a businessperson, and a passion for creating a better way to understand business.

The purpose of The Ruffin Series in Business Ethics is to publish the best thinking about the role of ethics in business. in a world in which there are daily reports of questionable business practices-from financial scandals to environmental disasters--we have to step back from the fray and understand the large issues of how business and ethics are, and ought to be, connected. the books in this series are aimed at three audiences: management scholars, ethicists, and business executives. There is a growing consensus among these groups that business and ethics must be integrated as a vital part of the teaching and practice of management.

Corporate strategy will never be the same after Gilbert's book. Whether or not he convinces you, he shows us how to put our humanity at the center of business, making "business ethics" seem a great deal less contradictory.

R. Edward Freeman . . .

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