Which Duties of Beneficence Should Agents Discharge on Behalf of Principals? A Reflection through Shareholder Primacy

Business Ethics Quarterly 31 (3):421-449 (2021)
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Scholars who favor shareholder primacy usually claim either that managers should not fulfill corporate duties of beneficence or that, if they are required to fulfill them, they do so by going against their obligations to shareholders. Distinguishing between structurally different types of duties of beneficence and recognizing the full force of the normative demands imposed on managers reveal that this view needs to be qualified. Although it is correct to think that managers, when acting on behalf of shareholders, are not required to fulfill wide duties of charity, they are nevertheless required to fulfill a variety of narrow duties of beneficence. What is more, the obligation to fulfill these duties arises precisely because they are acting on behalf of shareholders. As such, this article 1) refines our understanding of the duties of corporate beneficence and 2) helps to identify which duties of beneficence are imposed on managers when they are acting on behalf of shareholders.

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Santiago Mejia
Fordham University


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