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Ethical codes and corporate responsibility of the most admired companies of the world: Toward a third generation ethics?

  • Reyes Calderón, Ignacio Ferrero (a1) and Dulce M. Redin (a1)
Abstract

Codes of ethics contain a set of rules of conduct and corporate principles concerning the responsibility of a company to its stakeholders and shareholders. These codes help to guide corporate and employee behavior, and constitute verifiable elements of social responsibility. This study examines the Most Admired Companies of the World, ranked by Fortune magazine in 2009 to find out, first, whether their codes of ethics exhibit greater emphasis on social responsibility and strong implementation processes, and second, whether they could be considered codes of the third generation as elaborated by Stohl et al. in their article in the Journal of Business Ethics. Our results indicate that the codes of ethics of the 2009 Most Admired Companies of the World resemble “codes of conduct” rather than strictly codes of ethics or “codes of corporate social responsibility”. These codes continue to be governed by traditional norms related to immediate economic success, normative compliance, internal management and the pressing effects of their sector. This study thus provides empirical support for the idea that the philosophy of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is scarcely present in the codes of the most reputable companies.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra, Edificio Amigos, Campus Universitario, 31009, Pamplona, Spain, E-mail: rcalderon@unav.es
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