After a number of spectacular moral failures in corporations
despite them having had codes of ethics and ethics programmes,
it has become clear that a mere reliance on codes of ethics and
ethics compliance programmes is not sufficient to safeguard
organisations against serious ethical failures. The insight has
dawned that transformation on the deeper level of organisational
culture is required. This emphasis on corporate ethical culture is
evident in the revised American Federal Sentencing Guidelines for
Organisations as well as in the draft of the Third King Report on
Corporate Governance for South Africa.
The shift from an emphasis on corporate compliance to an
emphasis on corporate culture represents a shift from an actbased
approach to ethics to an actor-based approach to ethics.
Instead of focussing on rules of behaviour, the focus shifts to
virtues of actors in the latter approach. This brings the tradition
of philosophical virtue ethics into play. The question that will be
addressed in this article is: ‘Can a neo-Aristotelian approach to
virtue ethics be accommodated in modern capitalist
Drawing on Alisdaire MacIntyre’s interpretation of the
Aristotelian virtue ethics tradition as well as his critique of late
capitalist organisations the possibilities and constraints of neo-
Aristotelian virtue ethics for the cultivation of corporate ethical
culture will be explored.