Volume 17

Corporate Moral Motivation

by Chris MacDonald

Corporate motives are obscure, but important and undertheorized. This article seeks to begin filling that gap. Many stakeholders have reason to interpret and assess corporate motives: evaluation and prediction of corporate behavior seems an unavoidable part of life in a market economy, and evaluating and predicting corporate behavior seems to require understanding what motivates that behavior. But attempts to interpret corporate motives are often hindered by either skepticism about the existence of corporate motives or cynicism about their content. It is also hindered by our lack of a clear theory of just what it is that corporate motives consist in, or would consist in. This article seeks to contribute to discourse regarding corporate moral motivation by exploring the role motives play in corporate behavior, exploring epistemic issues regarding whether, or the extent to which, corporate moral motives are amenable to interpretation, and finally, exploring two different contexts in which at least attempting to interpret corporate motives might be sufficiently important to justify the trouble.

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