Mixing Business and Ethics: How the Rotary Club Encouraged Ethical Business Practices

connected-people-988001-mLarge corporations have long been the focus of corporate social  responsibility (CSR) studies. Such studies seem to support the separation thesis, which suggests that business and ethics are mutually exclusive. However, reexamining the role of small businesses in the history of CSR challenges the separation thesis and provides a new perspective on the relationship between business and society. A historical case study of the Rotary Club demonstrates how mixing business and moral decision making has benefited small business owners in the past. Mark Tadajewski recently explored this topic in his article “The Rotary Club and the Promotion of the Social Responsibilities of Business in the Early 20th Century” from Business & Society.

The abstract:

The separation thesis states that business and moral decision making should and can be differentiated clearly. This study provides empirical support for the competing view that the separation thesis is impossible through a BAScase study of the Rotary Club, which fosters an ethical orientation among its global business and professional membership. The study focuses attention on the Club in the early to middle 20th century. Based on a reading of their service doctrine, the four objects of Rotary and the Four Way Test, the author argues that the example of the Rotary Club undermines the separation thesis. The Rotary message was conceptually ambiguous: it did not clearly differentiate business roles from social activities; rather both fed into each other, with the business tools developed by members and disseminated by Rotary, utilized in nonbusiness contexts with a view to enhancing societal well-being.

You can read “The Rotary Club and the Promotion of the Social Responsibilities of Business in the Early 20th Century” from Business & Society by clicking here. Want to be notified of all the latest research like this from Business & Society? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethics, Service and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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