Values, Nature, and Culture in the American Corporation

Values, Nature, and Culture in the American Corporation

Values, Nature, and Culture in the American Corporation

Values, Nature, and Culture in the American Corporation


Drawing on ideas from both the natural and social sciences, distinguished ethicist William Frederick examines the various forces that complicate the promotion of an ethical business culture.


The landscape of business and business theory is populated by change. Analyses of global competition, restructuring, total quality management, and other issues are full of advice for how businesses should understand themselves and what lies ahead. Bill Frederick has a very simple answer to these theorists and executives. Business is about values, and understanding values is the most critical task for business thinkers and for business doers.

Bill Frederick has written an important book that will repay many times over the managers and scholars who study it. The executives who take up his challenge will be able to situate themselves and their businesses in the broader social and historical milieu and they will gain a deeper appreciation of the normative power of values that will go far beyond the usual facile statement of corporate values. The management theorists who read this book will begin to see how a whole stream of research on business ethics can be more readily understood as standing at the center of business theory rather than at the margin. The business ethicists who read this book will find a rather brilliant analysis of what they have been doing for the last few decades, and they will find a clarion call to return to the likes of John Dewey and other pragmatists, rather than their cherished philosophical figures.

I believe that this book will substantially alter the conversation that has come to be called business ethics. It represents the wisdom of one of the leading figures in the modern study of the role of business in society. It sweeps across the entire landscape yet it also speaks to executives. It is a rare and wonderful book, one that is a privilege to put in the Ruffin Series.

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 which there are daily reports of questionable business practices, from financial scandals to environmental disasters, we need to step back from the fray and understand the large issues of how business and ethics are and ought to be connected. The books . . .

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