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A Christian Perspective on the Joint Stock Company

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Abstract

Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate (2009), continues the long legacy of previous popes in emphasizing the importance of gospel values for building a good society. Pope John Paul II, in Centesimus Annus (1991, n. 5; original emphasis), had the same orientation, arguing “that there can be no genuine solution to the ‘social question’ apart from the Gospel.” These expressions, and their development in the encyclical letters, can be developed into a methodology by which to assess the quality of existing societies and their components: Aspects of those societies can be compared with gospel values to determine how they measure up. Here, this exercise is performed for one facet of the advanced free-market society—the joint stock company or corporation—economically the most important form of business organization. The structure of the corporation is assessed against three particular gospel values: hierarchy, responsibility versus duty, and inequality. The corporation is found not to measure up well against gospel values in these three areas. In the conclusion, alternative forms of free-market business organization are considered that could help mitigate the deleterious effects of the corporation in the three areas examined.

Cara Beed and Clive Beed, "A Christian Perspective on the Joint Stock Company," Journal of Markets & Morality 13, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 101-122


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