Bridging the Gap between Individual and Corporate Responsible Behaviour: Toward a Performative Concept of Corporate Codes

Philosophy of Management 16 (2):117-136 (2017)
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We reflect on the nature of corporate codes of conduct is this article. Based on John Austin’s speech act theory, four characteristics of a performative concept of corporate codes will be introduced: 1) the existential self-performative of the firm identity, 2) which is demanded by and responsive to their stakeholders; 3) Because corporate codes are structurally threatened by the possibility of failure, 4) embracing the code not only consists in actual corporate responsible behaviour in light of the code, but in the incessant recapturing of the code in the struggle of firms against the possible incongruence between their ethical principles and their actual responsible behaviour. A performative concept of corporate codes helps to bridge classical dichotomies like individualist versus collectivist approaches of moral agency and restrictive versus empowering ethics, and opens a new perspective on the interaction between individual ethical behaviour and the corporate institutionalisation of codes.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research


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