What role can companies play in the social cohesion of society? Our articles in this week’s research tidbits take a look.

Can business ethics strengthen the social cohesion of a society? 
The essay aims to show how business ethics—understood as a three-level approach—can strengthen the social cohesion of a society, which is jeopardized today in many ways.

In the first part, the purpose of business and the economy is explained as the creation of wealth defined as a combination of private and public wealth that includes natural, economic, human, and social capital. Special emphasis is placed on the implications of the creation of public wealth which requires institutions other than the market and motivations other than self-regarding ones.

In the second part, the question of what holds a society together is discussed through different approaches: enlightened self-interest, a new game-theoretical approach, and the concept of the common good advanced by Catholic Social Teaching, followed by my own proposal.

The third part presents several perspectives for business ethics to strengthen social cohesion of a society (a) by focusing on the purpose of business and the economy to create natural, economic, human, and social capital; (b) by advancing public goods that stand the test of ethical scrutiny; and (c) by securing human rights conceptualized as public goods.

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Georges Enderle. 2018. How Can Business Ethics Strengthen the Social Cohesion of a Society? 
Journal of Business Ethics, 150(3), 619–629.


Democracy in firms? 
The increasing centrality of business firms in contemporary societies calls for a renewed attention to the democratization of these actors. This paper sheds new light on the possibility of democratizing business firms by bridging recent scholarship in two fields—deliberative democracy and business ethics.

To date, deliberative democracy has largely neglected the role of business firms in democratic societies. While business ethics scholarship has given more attention to these issues, it has overlooked the possibility of deliberation within firms. As argued in the paper, a combination of reforms based on the ideas of workplace deliberation and business deliberation is necessary in order to promote the prospect of deliberation in different business contexts.

The paper also discusses the importance of more democratic firms for deliberative democracy at large and, in particular, for the recent debate on deliberative systems. Finally, the paper suggests new areas of investigation to better understand the prospect of democratic deliberation in business firms.

Andrea Felicetti. 2018. A Deliberative Case for Democracy in Firms. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 150(3), 803–814.


Accountable to whom? Rethinking the role of corporations in political CSR
According to Palazzo and Scherer, the changing role of business corporations in society requires that the authors take new measures to integrate these organisations into society-wide processes of democratic governance.

The authors argue that their model of integration has a fundamental problem. Instead of treating business corporations as agents that must be held accountable to the democratic reasoning of affected parties, it treats corporations as agents who can hold others accountable. In the authors’ terminology, it treats business corporations as “supervising authorities” rather than “functionaries.”

The result is that Palazzo and Scherer’s model does not actually address the democratic deficit that it is meant to solve. In order to fix the problem, the authors advocate removing business corporations from any policymaking role in political CSR and limiting participation to political NGOs and other groups that meet the standards the authors set out for a politically representative organisation (PRO).

Waheed Hussain and Jeffrey Moriarty. 2018. Accountable to Whom? Rethinking the Role of Corporations in Political CSR. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(3), 519–534.


Ethics of resistance in organisations: A political perspective 
This study suggests a conceptual proposal to analyse the ethics of resistance in organisations, drawing on Foucault’s practising self as a refusal and Schaffer’s ethics of freedom in opposition to the legitimacy of managerial control and the ethics of compliance.

The authors argue that ethics is already part of such politics in the form of ethico-politics on the basis of participation in political action in organisations. Hence, the practising self as resistance in the face of the status quo of managerial power in an ongoing dialectical process with others and for others comprises the authors’ conceptual proposal as an ethics of resistance.

Acknowledging dialectics as the driver of the continuous reconstruction and co-construction of politics and praxis, the authors propose an ethics from the bottom up with a critical and radical perspective. The authors’ contribution is based on opening up an ethico-political space for those who are ignored or suppressed in the ethics and organisations literature.

Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar and Fahreen Alamgir. 2018. Ethics of Resistance in Organisations: A Conceptual Proposal.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(1), 31–43.


The role of social conflict in assassination of political leaders  
Given human aggression and warfare are often described as the most pressing behavioral problems of our time, we focus on a related phenomenon, with large-scale social, political, and economic consequences: assassination of political leaders.

We explore the role of social conflict as a predictor of political assassination and use historiometric methods and an extensive archival dataset to identify and code for contextual factors associated with social conflict and political homicide. Our results indicate an increase in social conflict increases the likelihood of assassination; moreover, environmental constraints and traditional culture predict leader assassination through social conflict.

We discuss implications of these findings and suggest future research on contextual factors, assassination of political leaders, and their collective-level impact.

Andra Serban, Francis J. Yammarino, Kristin Lee Sotak, Juliet Banoeng-Yakubo, Alexander B. R. Mushore, Chanyu Hao, Kristie A. McHugh, Michael D. Mumford. 2018. Assassination of political leaders: The role of social conflict.
The Leadership Quarterly, 29(4), 457-475.


Synthesising CSR on organisational and societal levels
This article develops an integrative perspective on corporate responsibility by synthesising competing perspectives on the responsibility of the corporation at the organisational and societal levels of analysis.

We review three major corporate responsibility perspectives, which we refer to as economic, critical, and politico-ethical. We analyse the major potential uses and pitfalls of the perspectives, and integrate the debate on these two levels. Our synthesis concludes that when a society has a robust division of moral labour in place, the responsibility of a corporation may be economic (as suggested under the economic perspective) without jeopardising democracy and sustainability (as reported under the critical perspective).

Moreover, the economic role of corporations neither signifies the absence of deliberative democratic mechanisms nor business practices extending beyond compliance (as called for under the politico-ethical perspective). The study underscores the value of integrating different perspectives and multiple levels of analysis to present comprehensive descriptions and prescriptions of the responsibility phenomenon.

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Pasi Heikkurinen and Jukka Mäkinen. 2018. Synthesising Corporate Responsibility on Organizational and Societal Levels of Analysis: An Integrative Perspective. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(3), 589–607.