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The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics

Volume 3, 2002

Ethics and Entrepreneurship

George G. Brenkert
Pages 5-43

Entrepreneurship, Ethics, and the Good Society

This paper considers some of the crucial conceptual and ethical aspects of entrepreneurship. First, I discuss some of the well-known difficulties of identifying what is “entrepreneurship.” I then propose a notion of entrepreneurship that may usefully serve as the focus of studies of the ethics of entrepreneurship. Second, though ethical questions regarding entrepreneurship occur at the micro, meso and macro levels, this paper focuses on the macro-ethical aspects of entrepreneurship. Three main clusters of ethical problems regarding entrepreneurship arise at this level. They have to do with the decentralization, extension and intensification of the economy with which entrepreneurship has been linked. Each of these characteristics is connected with important ethical and value implications for the good society. The aim of this paper is to consider entrepreneurship from a broad perspective, while focusing on (potential) difficulties entrepreneurship raises, rather than the beneficial sides of entrepreneurship. As such, the paper does not seek to provide a complete ethical theory of entrepreneurship, so much as to provide a framework within which further examinations of various ethical and value issues of entrepreneurship might be carried out.

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