This article challenges along two lines Milton Friedman's injunction that the sole role of the business manager is to maximize profits for shareholders using all legal and ethical means. First, it shows how Friedman overly narrows the manager's moral duties to consequentialist profit maximization and thereby fails to account for a wide range of values and virtues necessary for good management. Second, it illustrates how more oblique approaches to management as well as Adam Smith's virtue-based model better capture the moral imagination and relational aspects of leadership that are critical to good management today. In the end, this article suggests that a subtler version of Friedman's directive should be considered in which maximizing shareholder wealth provides a powerful business goal but not an exclusive one to direct or to motivate managers.
Copyright © 2008, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. This article first appeared in Journal of Markets and Morality 11:2 (2008), 221-238.
Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.
Wight, Jonathan, and Martin Calkins. "The Ethical Lacunae in Friedman's Concept of the Manager." Journal of Markets and Morality 11, no. 2 (2008): 221-38.