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Business Ethics Quarterly

Volume 10, Issue 1, January 2000

Anniversary Issue

Thomas W. Dunfee, David Hess
Pages 95-109
DOI: 10.2307/3857698

The Legitimacy of Direct Corporate Humanitarian Investment

Private firms are uniquely positioned to provide significant relief to the misery that pervades the developing world. Global misery has persisted due to a variety of failures in the provision of relief by nation-states and non-governmental organizations, including corruption and the absence of strong background institutions in the countries in need of aid. In many situations, private firms have a comparative advantage over these entities in the provision of aid. Examples such as Merck and the cure for river blindness show how firms can use their specific competencies and knowledge to relieve misery through Direct Corporate Humanitarian Investment (DCHI). DCHI is legitimized by marketplace morality and is consistent with the role of business within society, including legal dimensions. Shareholders may formally approve a corporation’s DCHI strategy and all stakeholders may act in support of their moral desires with respect to the firm and its DCHI strategy.

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