Et spil uden tabere? En idéhistorie om virksomhedsetisk ansvarlighed i Danmark
This thesis explores the emergence of an ‘ethical regime’ within the Danish media context, and examines how the argument for an increased social conscience in the Danish business world has developed. Cases involving Novo was the center of significant public attention towards the end of the 20 th century, and the debate on ethical responsibility for corporations contained in these, is used as a prism to view the general historical development of the period through. Particular focus is given to the role of the state, and the vari- ous Danish governments which promoted the ideology of a new sense of business ethics, thus helping to define this new idea. From the emergence of the paradigm in the early 1990s, the thesis provides an account of the manner in which the doctrine of market ethics became a gradually more defining approach to the discourse of business in Denmark. The paper focuses on three stages of development. Firstly, a formative phase, where the role of ethics became gradually more debated in the business landscape. Drawing on the theories of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, the rhetoric in the Danish debate on business ethics is discussed in relation to the idea of The Projective City as a justificatory regime, and how the waxing power of the ethical agenda can be seen in relation to the idea of a new way of defining the relation between employees and corporations. Upon establishing itself as a powerful narrative for business conduct, the paradigm of ethical busi ness expanded through the introduction of a new vocabulary to the Danish context. Terms such as corporate social responsibility and the triple bottom line entered the Danish debate at the onset of the new millennium, and the concepts helped promote the agenda of a voluntary social partnership between state and businesses, while also broadening the scope of the ethical agenda. With corporate social responsibility becoming a gradually more defining narrative in the Danish media context, a new strategical understanding of CSR emerged, in which the Danish business industry was defined through an ambition of being the best in the world at taking responsibility. The idea of the ethical regime being an ever more natural part of the industry’s ‘DNA’ is challenged by the waning interest for CSR in the last couple of years. In light of this, the representation of critical counterpoints to the ideology rounds off the thesis. This aims to put the idea into the context of a strong discursive stand which justifies itself in competition with other discourses, rather than an obvious truth that is being more and more accepted.
Morten Skovdal Hammeken, afleveret i september 2015.