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Beneficence as a source of competitive advantage

Cam Caldwell (School of Business, St Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida, USA)
Larry Floyd (Department of Management, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, USA)
Joseph Taylor (Department of Organizational Leadership, St Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida, USA)
Bryan Woodard (Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to define “beneficence” as a management concept that is the action associated with “benevolence” the intention. This paper explains how beneficence is a critical element for leaders in building trust. The authors identify how beneficence honors the ethical duties owed to followers and creates competitive advantage for organizations.


The approach of this paper is to present an extensive conceptual review of beneficence as it relates to leaders and managers and to suggest eight propositions identifying how beneficence can create competitive advantage.


The findings of this paper include eight propositions about beneficence as a source of competitive advantage.

Practical implications

The practical implications of this paper are for practitioners and scholars. This paper provides an opportunity for leaders to recognize the importance of translating good intentions into specific action in acting virtuously toward others. For scholars, this paper provides testable propositions for learning more about beneficence as a source of increased commitment, greater trust, and competitive advantage.


Although benevolence has been acknowledged to be a foundation of trustworthiness, benevolence is an attitude or intention. This paper explains the importance of beneficence as the action derived from benevolence as an attitude or intention to do that which benefits others.



Caldwell, C., Floyd, L., Taylor, J. and Woodard, B. (2014), "Beneficence as a source of competitive advantage", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 No. 10, pp. 1057-1079.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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