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The thesis of "doux commerce" and the social licence to operate framework

Borg, E. ORCID: (2021) The thesis of "doux commerce" and the social licence to operate framework. Business Ethics: A European Review, 30 (3). pp. 412-422. ISSN 1467-8608

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/beer.12279


The "doux commerce" thesis holds that commerce acts as a civilising force, contributing to the advancement and well-being of societies by inculcating certain core moral values in individuals (such as honesty, tolerance and fair-dealing). This idea has a venerable history. However, I suggest that it faces a particular challenge in the current era in light of examples of systemic misbehaviour by global companies. This paper explores the nature of this challenge, taking the events around the financial crisis of 2007-8 as a case study, and suggests that if we are to preserve the idea that commerce contributes to the common good then greater mechanisms of constraint on the worst excesses of business behaviour will be needed. In particular, I argue that we must recognise the need for all firms to have a social purpose and suggest that the ‘social licence to operate’ framework, familiar from the mining and extraction sectors, could be used to provide crucial leverage on the behaviour of multinational firms.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:89365

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