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Hartman’s Article Cited by Thesis 20 Years Later

I chose to explore Edwin Hartman’s article “Donaldson on Rights and Corporate Obligations” for this week’s cited reference search blog post.  Just to recap, the article discusses Donaldson’s belief that certain fundamental human rights generate correlative duties for the corporation, including 1) the duty to avoid depriving people of their rights, 2) the duty to help protect people from such deprivation, and 3) the duty to aid those who are deprived.  Hartman introduces a fourth category of duty to the list, which he refers to as the duty to avoid helping to deprive. He argues that the corporation is not obligated to contribute to protecting anyone from deprivation, but it needs to make sure that no action it takes helps the depriver succeed in depriving.

Since the article was published in 1991, I thought that it would be interesting to see what other publications have cited it since then.  Using Google Scholar, I found that Hartman’s original article had only been cited by 3 other publications.

The one I chose to examine more closely is “La responsabilidad moral de la empresa. Una revisión de la teoría de Stakeholder desde la ética discursiva”/”The moral responsibility of the business. A review of the Stakeholder theory from discursive ethics”.  It is a doctoral thesis presented by Elsa González Esteban and directed by Dr. Domingo Garcia-Marza of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón.  It was published in 2011, so it is rather recent information.  In total, it has 576 pages and it is written in Spanish. 

I did not read the whole thesis, but I was basically able to understand the main argument from the introduction section. The main objective is to raise the possibility of a comprehensive model of stakeholders that is capable of giving reason to the moral responsibility of the company and its application or implementation in business practice.  The model of stakeholders is supported by the basic integrative model of business ethics and the concept of post-conventional responsibility.  It is configured as a framework from which to develop responses of moral, ethical, and practical constraints of the business environment and to collect and combine the methodology of stakeholders. It also ties in discursive ethics, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder theory, business ethics, management of the moral responsibility of the company, and moral philosophy.

The part that relates to Hartman’s article is about business social and moral responsibility and the conditions by which a business is a moral agent.  It also focuses on the moral decision-making process, specifically that it must have two elements: (1) the capacity to use moral reasoning in making decisions, and (2) the understanding that the decision-making process controls not only the actions of the business, but also the structure of politics and rules.  In a later section of the thesis, another article of Hartman entitled “Values and The Foundations of Strategic Management” is cited.

I think that the thesis could be a very useful tool for me in the upcoming assignments for class.  Although a bit lengthy, it is very current, which means that it has updated information, and also, it seems to be a pretty complete and comprehensive work.



8 thoughts on “Hartman’s Article Cited by Thesis 20 Years Later

  1. I’m not too familiar with doctoral theses (fyi I had to google the plural of thesis is theses). Are they typically found to be that type of length? Also, are you fluent in Spanish? I think that’s resourseful and interesting you used a strength of ours, use of knowing the language, to find something relative. From your descriptive, the source seems to be a comprehensive piece of knowledge, covering an array of topics, and sounds like it can provide you with support for later assignments. Can you elaborate on what the concept of post-conventional responsibility is?

    Posted by Danielle Marquette | March 26, 2012, 7:57 pm
  2. Yeah! Theses! My thesis, your thesis, our theses! Its a Greek word, I suspect. My MA thesis was about 100 pages as a word document, my doctoral one about 200 or so. But that includes a lot of data tables and results whcih reflect a lot of work. A PhD thesis in a text-heavy field like English or History can run to 300, I’m sure.

    Lauren, you might have searched too narrowly. I tried simply Edwin Hartman to see what got the most hits, and a book of his had over 100.

    Posted by Jordi | March 26, 2012, 8:06 pm
    • Thanks Jordi. I will have to broaden the search query. I think that because I specifically searched the article we read for class, I got such a limited number of hits.

      Posted by Lauren McGuiggan | March 27, 2012, 8:05 am
  3. Lauren, I cannot believe you read that article! I actually searched the same Hartmann article, but when I saw the three cited references, one of which in full Spanish, I cut my losses and moved on. Props to you for digging in and gleaning some important information from the Spanish article. I do think that, as you mentioned above, your search may need to expand, and I would offer simply searching Donaldson’s article to maybe expand it. Furthermore, I do not recall, but perhaps Hartmann cites other important sources that you can pursue and perform another cited reference searches. It looks like you are off to a great start!

    Posted by Derek | March 27, 2012, 9:19 am
  4. Putting my Information Literacy hat on once again, the reason that the Hartman piece has only been cited 3 times is most likely because it actually isn’t an article, its a book chapter. His chapter comes from a larger book entitled “Business Ethics: the State of the Art” (catalog link), which has been cited almost 200 times according to Google Scholar. Depending on how an author chooses to cite a work, its entirely possible that they ended up citing the book as a whole and not the individual chapter.

    Additionally, you need to walk a very fine line when choosing to use theses as sources. Theses, although written by experts (or soon to be experts) in a given field, do not go through the same sort of vetting process that a traditionally scholarly article does. A thesis may only be read by a handful of people prior to approval, whereas a scholarly article goes through a rigorous process of peer-review prior to being accepted fro print. This is not to say that a thesis is not a “good” source (and props to you for slogging through a phD thesis in Spanish!!), but you do need to be very careful when you are analyzing/evaluating it as a source.

    Posted by Brody Selleck | March 27, 2012, 1:27 pm
  5. Espanol! I agree with Derek- props to you for taking the initiative to try and read it! It may also prove to be helpful if you choose to look at multinational corporations and how different countries have different opinions on the matter. For example, this article may have been directed at Spanish corporations, so I would make sure that this is also telling of corporations in the U.S. as well.

    Posted by alyssakinell | March 27, 2012, 4:30 pm
  6. Si! Fantástica que lo has leido en español! No entendí muy bien el tesis. Me parecía lleno de términos y “jargon” de ética tecnica. Básicamente, de lo que has condensado, el tesis quiere integrar se racional con ser ética. Bien. No hay nada nuevo en etso. No sé que ofrece que sea nueva o original.

    Posted by Jordi | March 30, 2012, 1:52 pm


  1. Pingback: Blog Awards-Cited Reference Searches « business government society 2 - April 9, 2012

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