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Moral cover for capitalism The harmony‐of‐interests doctrine

Moral cover for capitalism The harmony‐of‐interests doctrine Purpose – In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , Max Weber chronicled how seventeenth‐century religious tenets expounded by John Calvin inadvertently laid the ideological groundwork for the flourishing of eighteenth‐century capitalism. In this early work on the rise of capitalism, Weber examined the changes in attitudes of business and accepted ethical business behavior and the transition of justification from religious tenets and guidance to more secular, yet rational explanations. The purpose of this paper is to contend this transition from religious to secular moral cover for business ethics was aided by the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine, which provided moral, but secular, cover for the pursuit of self‐interest and personal wealth with an implicit, secular rationalization of promoting the public good. Design/methodology/approach – Although Weber used Benjamin Franklin as an exemplar of the earlier Calvinist Protestantism and spirit of capitalism, advocates a case study of Robert Keayne, a seventeenth‐century Boston Puritan Merchant, as being more appropriate for Weber's thesis. The paper uses passages from Keanye's will to illustrate the seventeenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, Franklin's writings to illustrate the eighteenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, and various historical prose to demonstrate the legitimation of the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine which allowed for the secular moral cover for the pursuit of capitalism in the following centuries. Findings – The original (seventeenth‐century) spirit of capitalism identified by Weber is reflected in the rational way in which Keayne conducted his business affairs and in the extent to which his business behavior mirrored Calvinist tenets. Originality/value – This earlier spirit of capitalism is important in setting the stage for the emergence of the eighteenth‐century spirit of capitalism embodied in Franklin as seen through his writings of acceptable and moral behavior without the use of explicit religious explanations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Management History Emerald Publishing

Moral cover for capitalism The harmony‐of‐interests doctrine

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1751-1348
DOI
10.1108/17511340710715133
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , Max Weber chronicled how seventeenth‐century religious tenets expounded by John Calvin inadvertently laid the ideological groundwork for the flourishing of eighteenth‐century capitalism. In this early work on the rise of capitalism, Weber examined the changes in attitudes of business and accepted ethical business behavior and the transition of justification from religious tenets and guidance to more secular, yet rational explanations. The purpose of this paper is to contend this transition from religious to secular moral cover for business ethics was aided by the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine, which provided moral, but secular, cover for the pursuit of self‐interest and personal wealth with an implicit, secular rationalization of promoting the public good. Design/methodology/approach – Although Weber used Benjamin Franklin as an exemplar of the earlier Calvinist Protestantism and spirit of capitalism, advocates a case study of Robert Keayne, a seventeenth‐century Boston Puritan Merchant, as being more appropriate for Weber's thesis. The paper uses passages from Keanye's will to illustrate the seventeenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, Franklin's writings to illustrate the eighteenth‐century Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, and various historical prose to demonstrate the legitimation of the harmony‐of‐interests doctrine which allowed for the secular moral cover for the pursuit of capitalism in the following centuries. Findings – The original (seventeenth‐century) spirit of capitalism identified by Weber is reflected in the rational way in which Keayne conducted his business affairs and in the extent to which his business behavior mirrored Calvinist tenets. Originality/value – This earlier spirit of capitalism is important in setting the stage for the emergence of the eighteenth‐century spirit of capitalism embodied in Franklin as seen through his writings of acceptable and moral behavior without the use of explicit religious explanations.

Journal

Journal of Management HistoryEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 16, 2007

Keywords: Ethics; Capitalist systems; Religion; Work ethic; Business ethics

References