corporate ethics, agency, profit maximization, ethical dilemma, theory of the firm, theory of agency, ethics, nexus of contracts, organizational behavior
This conference paper suggests that the problem of corporate ethics cannot be reduced to the autonomous person. Although the greatest influence on action and choice is one's moral constitution, it does not follow that the agent's behavior is the same within or without the firm. Ethics is a function of corporate form. The theory of agency cannot dismiss the firm as a fiction or metaphorical shorthand since that which does not exist should not be able to cause ethical breakdowns in corporate action. Thus, the theory of the firm, which emphasizes profit and wealth maximization, should incorporate a richer, more realistic account of the economics and ethics of agency.
Corporation and Enterprise Law
3 Journal of Business & Technology Law 309 (2008).