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The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics

Volume 4, 2004

Business, Science, and Ethics

Tara J. Radin
Pages 289-310

To Propagate and to Prosper
A Naturalistic Foundation for Stakeholder Theory

This article examines the contribution of nature and the sciences toward a deeper understanding of business. Integrating these disciplines with stakeholder theory opens up new avenues for thinking about business that will potentially offer greater success in addressing the disconnect between moral discretion and the behavior of businesspeople. The specific focus is on integration of modern Darwinism (evolutionary psychology) and business theory. According to modern Darwinism, there are insufficient resources for all genes to reproduce. Natural selection occurs as genes compete to reproduce and those best suited for survival are able to reproduce. During the struggle, human beings are motivated by impulses intended to further reproduction, which lead them into many fruitful endeavors—such as participation in corporations. As genes strive to be passed on to the next generation, a consequence is their contribution to productivity and prosperity. By developing insight into the evolutionary process, we can create mechanisms that help us to manage human behavior in order to promote moral behavior. Connecting people with their natural selves provides for a more robust understanding of business.

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