Business ethics professor due as visiting scholar at DePauw

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jeffery Smith, associate professor of business ethics and founding director of the Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society at the University of Redlands, will serve as DePauw University's Nancy Schaenen Visiting Scholar during the 2013-14 academic year.

Prof. Smith is taking a leave from his position at University of Redlands in Southern California, where he teaches courses in business ethics, ethical theory and political philosophy.

His ongoing research while in residence at DePauw's Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics begins with the premise that it has become too common to view corporate social responsibility as a profit-motivated endeavor where ethicists have been conspicuously absent from conversations about why corporate social responsibilities are properly thought of as responsibilities.

Smith maintains that a more thorough moral justification of a corporation's social responsibilities arises from the fact that corporations have been delegated tasks in modern societies via the market.

The administration of these tasks (e.g., to improve national defense, promote public health, develop technologies to manage environmental quality, educate and inform citizens, and finance public works) should be done in a legitimate fashion, he reasons, which presumes that we view corporate managers as stewards of the public good who, while having private, role-based responsibilities to shareholders, nonetheless have specific obligations tied to the underlying purpose of the corporate form and the social goods that their particular firms aim to promote.

He has published on topics ranging from ethical decision-making in business, corporate human rights obligations, ethics in employment and corporate social responsibility, which have appeared in journals such as Business Ethics Quarterly, the Journal of Business Ethics and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.

In addition to offering lectures at institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, the Rotterdam School of Management and the Economic University of Bratislava, Smith served as Visiting Professor of Ethics at Tilburg University in The Netherlands, where he completed the edited book "Normative Theory and Business Ethics," and is an adjunct professor of bioindustry ethics at the Keck Graduate Institute.

Prof. Smith has also led seminars and spoken to corporate practitioners at organizations such the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association and the Boeing Co.

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