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Edited ethics: corporate governance and Kant's philosophy

Patrick A. McNutt (Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 31 August 2010




The purpose of this paper is to address the debate on an ethical foundation underpinning modern corporate governance and to argue that an ethical foundation is absent in the definition of corporate governance. The paper recommends an applied Kantian philosophy.


The objective is achieved by introducing a Kantian morality and considering the distinction between accountability and responsibility in terms of fulfilling one's duty.


Individuals do have a sense of duty and sense of what is right and what is wrong from an ethical perspective. There is a need for a code of ethical practice (CoEP) in business to encourage individuals to apply their sense of duty at employees or management.

Research limitations/implications

The research ideas are limited to an ethical perspective that is based on a Kantian morality and the implementation of a code.

Practical implications

Some practical implications from the theory addressed in the paper include a CoEP and the introduction of a K‐profiling template at interview stage to assess the moral compass of a potential employee.


The paper opens the debate on the need for an ethical foundation or “moral metric” in corporate governance that goes beyond a public relations exercise.



McNutt, P.A. (2010), "Edited ethics: corporate governance and Kant's philosophy", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 37 No. 10, pp. 741-754.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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