The Morality of Economic Man

Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Morality of Economic Man.' European Business Review , 2004, pp. 449-454

Economic behavior is multifaceted and context-dependent. In the "I & We" paradigm developed by Amitai Etzioni, economic behavior is co-determined by utility calculations and moral considerations. Two major factors can explain the ethicality of economic behavior; namely, the moral character of the agents and the relative cost of ethical behavior. Economic agents are moral beings, but the ethical fabric of the economy determines which face of the Moral Economic Man predominates.   

Honesty versus Cooperation: A Reinterpretation of the Moral Behavior of Economics Students

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Honesty versus Cooperation: A Reinterpretation of the Moral Behavior of Economics Students.' American Journal of Economics & Sociology, 2003, vol.62, no. 4, pp. 707-712

A variety of empirical evidence suggests that economics students are less co-operative than students in other disciplines are. Anthony M. Yezer and his colleagues have recently provided a strong counter-example claiming that economics students behave in a more honest way than non-economics students do. Since honesty and co-operation are not the same there might be no contradiction between these two claims. Economics students seem to represent a special pattern of moral behavior that is characterized by respect for property rights and strong self-interest motivation at the same time. 

Future of Capitalism

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Future of Capitalism.' , in Ethics in the Economy - Handbook of Business Ethics, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang, Oxford, Bern, Berlin, 2002. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

The moral foundation of capitalism should be reconsidered. Modern capitalism is disembedded from the social and cultural norms of society. Reciprocity and social capital play vital roles in providing public goods in advanced market economies. The stakeholder relationship is a key in the functioning of business in today’s world, and identifying and analyzing stakeholders is a way to acknowledge the existence of multiple constituencies in a corporation.

Transatlantic Business Ethics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Transatlantic Business Ethics.' Business Ethics: A European Review, 2002, vol.11, no. 1, pp. 97-105

The American and the European business cultures are considerably different and business ethics practiced on the two sides of the Atlantic reflects this difference. Since there is a lot of cooperation and merger between American and European companies the cross-fertilization of the American and European business and ethical values seems to be unavoidable. To meet the technological, ecological, and social requirements of the 21st century combining the best of European and American traditions in business and ethics is a promising task.

Green Business or Community Economy?

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Green Business or Community Economy?' International Journal of Social Economics, 2002, vol.29, no. 8, pp. 652-662

The paper analyzes two major ways of aiming at ecological sustainability. One is represented by the green business movement while the other is represented by different models of the community economy (community-supported agriculture, e.g.). Ecological sustainability requires quantitative and qualitative limitations both on the supply and demand sides of economic activities. Theoretical and empirical arguments show that the green business paradigm is not sufficient for achieving ecological sustainability but the community economy might be able to meet the requirements of ecological sustainability. 

Identity Management

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Identity Management.' European Business Forum, 2002, pp. 89-90

Based on his decades long consulting experience with big companies (Alcoa, Fidelity, Xerox, Korn/Ferry International, Maytag, etc.) Ackerman explores the laws of identity in business. In a nutshell, identity governs value, which produces wealth, which fuels identity. He breaks with the narrow interpretation of corporate identity (names, logotypes, and advertising tag lines) and provides a broad conception that puts identity at the heart of corporate functioning. 

Plurality of Values in Environmental Decision Making

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Plurality of Values in Environmental Decision Making.' OCEES Research Papers, Mansfield College, University of Oxford, 2000

The paper tries to demonstrate that we can acknowledge the environment as a site of conflicting values and, at the same time, we can hold the strong comparability assumption in the form of weak commensurability that leads to algorithmic solution of complex and multifaceted environmental decision problems. Responsibility is at the heart of such an approach.

Corporate Transgressions through Moral Disengagement

Albert Bandura, Gian-Vittorio Caprara, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Corporate Transgressions through Moral Disengagement.' Journal of Human Values , 2000, vol.6, no. 1, pp. 57-64

Corporate transgression is a well-known phenomenon in today’s business world. Some corporations are involved in violations of law and moral rules that produce organizational practices and products that take a toll on the public. Social cognitive theory of moral agency provides a conceptual framework for analyzing how otherwise pro-social managers adopt socially injurious corporate practices. This is achieved through selective disengagement of moral self-sanctions from transgressive conduct. The paper documents moral disengagement practices in four famous cases of corporate transgressions and discusses some implications for business ethics on how to counteract organizational use of moral disengagement strategies.

Limited Wants – Unlimited Means

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Limited Wants – Unlimited Means.' International Journal of Social Economics, 1999, vol.26, no. 5, pp. 832-833

Western Economic Man lives in a world of scarcity because his/her wants are unlimited. However, scarcity is not a natural state of affairs, it is socially constructed. The concept of Homo Oeconomicus does not adequately reflect the totality of economic experiences of mankind since humans lived as hunter-gatherers for about 99 % of our entire existence as a species. Hunter-gatherers typically represent Uneconomic Man whose wants are limited and who has, exactly for this reason, unlimited means to satisfy his/her wants. Limited Wants.pdf

Norms, Goals, and Stakeholders in Program Evaluation

P.J.M. Verschuren, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Norms, Goals, and Stakeholders in Program Evaluation.' Human Systems Management , 1998, vol.17, no. 2, pp. 155-160

Evaluation research favours goal based evalu­ation. However, the achieve­ment of the stated goals of interventionists, problem solvers or program managers is not a sufficient condition for a good decision or a successful program implementation. The value of a program, an intervention or a decision is determined not only by the achievement of its stated goals but also by its intrinsic ethical value and its performance for the stakeholders. Hence a program or a decision can be considered as successful if it meets the applying ethical norms, works well in achieving its stated goals, and produces satisfying results for the stakeholders.