1Responsibility in Business and Enterprise

Responsibility is far from being an alien concept in the world of business and enterprise. From a variety of legal responsibilities (such as blame and liability) to corporate social responsibility (CSR) via the notion of accountability, the field of corporate responsibility is already well populated and thoroughly analyzed.

However, these different types of responsibility are not always clearly articulated. A large volume of literature exists concerning the legal and social responsibility of companies, but synthetic perspectives, connecting normative, legal, economic and empirical reflection, are rare. Pavie et al. [PAV 14, p. 14] identified four levels of corporate responsibility: the internal chain of responsibility (between directors and employees, for example), the responsibility emanating from the status of the moral entity (such as the obligation to pay taxes), responsibility that arises from interactions with other partners (suppliers) and a responsibility to future generations. However, this analysis does not go into detail considering the different natures of these levels of responsibility (notably moral and legal). Furthermore, no justification is provided to legitimize responsibility toward suppliers or future generations, which is, as we shall see, far from evident.

In this chapter, we shall organize and connect the different aspects of responsibility encountered within a framework of economic interactions. Rather than ...

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