Organizations as Moral Agents

  • Berry TholenEmail author
  • Michiel S. de Vries
Living reference work entry



The evaluation of actions is a central element of social and political practice. Individuals, whether as citizens or in some official capacity, receive blame or praise for what they did or failed to do. The same goes for organizations. Judgments like the following are quite common: “Shell is responsible for the environmental disaster in Nigeria”; “The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize”; “Germany has to bear an historical guilt”; “Parliament is not an innocent bystander in this case”; “Trade unions must be praised for their efforts”; or “The UN has Rwandan blood on its hands.” In statements like these organizations are referred to in the same way is common in the case of human individuals. The organizations are presented as moral agents in their own right that can be held accountable and that deserve praise or blame.

Yet, is it...


Moral Agent Moral Worth Organizational Agency Moral Practice Methodological Individualism 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Management Research, Department of Public AdministrationRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands