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Between Enterprise and EthicsBusiness and Management in a Bimoral Society$
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John Hendry

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268634

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199268634.001.0001

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Obligation, Self-interest, and the Development of Modern Society

Obligation, Self-interest, and the Development of Modern Society

(p.37) CHAPTER 2 Obligation, Self-interest, and the Development of Modern Society
Between Enterprise and Ethics

John Hendry (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the social history of morality from early times through to the second half of the 20th century, with a particular focus on the relationship between the dominant morality of society and the constraints imposed by society on business and enterprise. It is argued that despite a gradual lessening of these constraints, the traditional morality of obligation continued to dominate throughout the period, in business as elsewhere. Entrepreneurs may have been motivated by self-interest, but that self-interest was sanctioned by society only within very tights limits. In the large corporations that grew up in the 20th century, it was effectively hidden behind an organizational ethic of duty and obligation.

Keywords:   moral culture, entrepreneurship, self-interest, obligation, cultural theory

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