Conceptual Foundations of Business: A Book that Made a Difference

  • William C. Frederick
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 11)


Corporate Social Responsibility Business Ethic Social Responsibility Business School Stakeholder Theory 
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  1. 1.
    Richard P. Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton (London: Vintage, 1992; W.W. Norton, 1985).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In addition to the text itself, whose three editions were published successively in 1961, 1969, and 1974, the authors compiled a three-volume set of readings to supplement the text titled The Business System: Readings in Ideas and Concepts (New York: Macmillan, 1967).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    This occurred at the University of Kansas City when a large contingent of institutional economists from the University of Texas, of whom I was one, descended on the business school, determined to revamp its curriculum in radical ways. See the monograph by William C. Frederick and T. R. Brannen, A Program of Education for Creative Leadership in Business (Kansas City, Missouri: University of Kansas City Press, 1959).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    This paper does not attempt to tell the complete story of how new programs were being created in other universities around the same time. Through grants, workshops, and policy statements by its officers, the Ford Foundation encouraged numerous experiments on various campuses. George Leland Bach, dean of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) and one of the authors of the Carnegie Corporation report, was a key reform figure in the 1950s and 1960s. As early as 1958, Bach was urging reform on the business schools in “Some Observations on the Business School of Tomorrow,” Management Science 4,no. 4 (July 1958): 351–364. Similar efforts were soon under way at the University of California in Berkeley and Los Angeles, at the University of Washington, Arizona State University, the University of Pittsburgh, and others.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 9.
    Walton quickly found Columbia colleagues and allies eager to support his initiatives. They included Ivar Berg, Neil Chamberlain, and James Kuhn. Chamberlain himself produced a classic work in the evolving field: The Limits of Corporate Responsibility (New York: Basic Books, 1973). Berg and Kuhn continue today as active contributors in their respective universities. See Ivar Berg’s paper for this conference, “Leadership in Crisis: The Columbia Case” (1968) and James W. Kuhn and Donald W. Shriver, Jr., Beyond Success: Corporations and Their Critics in the 1990s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Two years before the Bowen book was published, Frank Abrams, CEO of Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), outlined the essential elements of corporate social responsibility in an article entitled “Management’s Responsibilities in a Complex World,” Harvard Business Review (May 1951). I once remarked to Dean Courtney Brown that I had always considered the Abrams article to be the beginning of the modern social responsibility movement. Chuckling, Dean Brown, who had been Abrams’ right-hand assistant, said, “Yes, I [ghost] wrote that article.” For a brief personal appreciation of Dean Brown’s role, see the Appendix to this paper.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    See Epstein’s paper for this conference, “Clarence C. Walton on Management Education: Perspectives and Contributions.”Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Robert A. Gordon and James E. Howell, Higher Education for Business (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959); Frank C. Pierson, et al., The Education of American Businessmen (New York: Carnegie Corporation, 1959).Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Gordon and Howell, op. cit., 114, 206–207, 267–268. They generally meant courses about the economic-legal-political-social environment within which business decisions are made and the business process takes place (267). The Carnegie Corporation report used similar language and made similar recommendations.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    In these negotiations, Klein was joined by the late Lynn Peters, SIM’s second chairperson. See Walter Klein’s paper for this conference, “Recollections on Implementing the Ideas of Conceptual Foundations.”Google Scholar
  11. 19. Eells and Walton, op. cit., 230; and ibid., Chapter 6. See also R. Edward Freeman, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (Marshfield: Pitman, 1984).Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    Eells and Walton, op. cit., 8, 13, 149, 163, 230, 316, 428.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Ibid., 434. Remaining true to their Establishment roots, though, the authors mounted a ringing defense of profits which they believed to be essential and a special kind of creativity. But they took one step further and said that the unanswered question is whether … profits can be harnessed to larger social purposes. Ibid., 246, 31.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    Ibid., 433.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    Eells and Walton, 2d edition, 213.Google Scholar
  16. 24.
    Eells and Walton, 486.Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Eells and Walton, p. 435; 2d edition, pp. 206–211; 3d edition, p. 277.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    Eells and Walton, n3d edition, pp. 579–582. Though the term was the same, the meaning imparted to communitarian was not identical to Etzioni’s. Eells and Walton, anxious to emphasize the corporation’s social duties, argued for corporate recognition of the rights of others, whereas Etzioni’s communitarian logic favors a duty-first, rights-second logic. That is, communitarian social duties take precedence over individualistic rights when the latter endanger the former. However, it may be another case of a distinction without a difference, since both parties have sought to elevate social interests to near-equal status with individual rights. See Amitai Etzioni, The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities, and the Communitarian Agenda, (New York: Crown, 1993), and The New Communitarian Thinking: Persons, Virtues, Institutions, and Communities, ed. Etzioni (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  19. 27.
    Eells was author of The Government of Corporations (New York: Free Press, 1962), published one year after Conceptual Foundations.Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    Eells and Walton, op. cit., 2nd edition, pp. 537–544; 3rd edition, Chapter 6.Google Scholar
  21. 29.
    Norman Lear, foreword to Aiming Higher, by David Bollier (New York: Amacom, 1996), VII–VIII.Google Scholar
  22. 31.
    The early leaders among this emergent group of business ethics philosophers were Norman Bowie, Thomas Beauchamp, Patricia Werhane, Richard DeGeorge, Thomas Donaldson, Manuel Velasquez, and Edward Freeman. In later years, Clarence Walton produced two works that explored business ethics: The Moral Manager, (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1988), and Enriching Business Ethics, ed. Walton (New York: Plenum, 1990), to which he was also a contributing author.Google Scholar
  23. 32.
    Among his several other books, Eells wrote The Corporation and the Arts (New York: Macmillan, 1967).Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    William C. Frederick, “Ethics, Religion, and Philosophy at the Harvard Business School: A Personal Memoir of Two Visits.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Frederick
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of BusinessUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh

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