Virtue Ethics of sustainability

In my search for an article to use in my paper two, I decided to look within cited articles in Google Scholar.  I think the ethical theory of virtue ethics could be an interesting theory to look at my case, Sun Chips.  So, I went to Google Scholar and searched “Virtue Ethics”.  From that search I found an article titled “On Virtue Ethics” by R Hursthouse which was cited 1525 times.  I clicked on this cited link.  Within the cited articles, I searched for “Sustainability” because this is the main topic of the Sun Chips case.  I found an article called “What motivates managers to pursue corporate responsibility? a survey among key stakeholders“.  I think this article could be a potentially good resource for my paper two.

I thought this article could be a good resource because it discusses what people thinks motivates managers to make responsible decisions.  In the Sun Chips case, the managers decided to discontinue the biodegradable packing because of mouse complaints from customers.  I think this case has a lot to do with what motivates managers to make decisions.  It seems as though profits were a more motivating factor than the environment.

This article look as three groups, corporate leaders, MSc students and NGOs, and shows a study were people try to see what motivates them.  They talk about ten pragmatic CR theories that they discuss as possible motivations.  These include profit maximization, value maximization, stakeholdership, cluster-building, branding, innovation, copying/imitating, ethics/morals, managerial discretion, and sustainability.  The ethics/morals section touches upon all three of the ethical theories we have learned about.  Then the article shows the findings of their study with graphical representations.  One of the graphs is pictured below:


Microsoft Word - csr 237_revised figures.doc


This image shows what people think are the motivations of these three groups in comparison to what people think should motivate them.  It is clear that people think that ethics/morals should play a larger role in motivating corporate responsibility, and that profit maximization should not play as big of a role. I think that this is can be argued of the Sun Chips case too.  I think I could use this article to show that ethics should have played a larger role in Sun Chips decision to stop using biodegradable bags.




5 responses to “Virtue Ethics of sustainability

  1. I think you found some great sources. Good job with your usage of graphs! These will be great to include in your paper. I find your research on the motivations of decision making really interesting. For some extra sources maybe you can even use the models we learned about and used in MGMT 101? I’m sure someone like Professor Martin would be happy to talk more about them as well.


    • Totally agree! The graphs are really effective and will definitely enhance your paper. I bet Professor Martin would be a great resource- he is really interested and knowledgeable about both sustainability and organizational dynamics.


  2. These graphs are fantastic, it is a very interesting topic, but it is difficult to define. How can a managers true intentions for CSR be found? It can very easily by a selfish motivation even if the deeds are successful. Fake CSR for a selfish purpose waters down the value of true sustainability efforts.


  3. The tool of the spider graphs is cool. It also reflects a strand of behavioral research into ethics that we haven’t covered in class.

    At one level, I worry a little that if we say “be ethical if it is what customers want” is too weak of a case. What if your customers want you to be unethical? Is the strongest position to argue for ethical action on its own grounds?

    At the same time, when stakeholders are holding organizations to higher standards, this can be a powerful lever.


  4. Pingback: Blog Council: Ethical Resources | Stakeholders:Uncensored·

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