Capitalism with a Purpose: Can Business Ethics Fight Inequality?


  • Rosa FIORAVANTE Ph.D Student – Global Studies, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
  • Mara DEL BALDO Associate Professor, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy


Business Ethics; Capitalism, Shareholder value; Stakeholder value; CSR; Inequality; Economic Crisis


Economic crises - such as the Great Recession of 2008 or the 2020 crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic - have always represented an opportunity to address the relationship between macroeconomic variables and business and society’s reactions to them. Indeed, negative economic conjuncture, slump and stagnation, represent a challenge and may elicit the opportunity to rethink the role of business in tackling systemic global problems of the current system - such as persisting and raising inequalities and environmental unsustainability – by focusing on Business Ethics both as a theory and a practice. Accordingly, the present work aims at shedding light on the link between the systematic production of inequality within the current economic system and the opportunities for entrepreneurs and managers to significantly reduce it by engaging in business ethics practices. For this purpose, the theoretical framework proposed rests on a step “back” to the discussion of the relation between economic sphere and society, particularly when addressing the issue of value creation/extraction and a step “forward” in the discussion on the purpose of the enterprise and the social role of the entrepreneur. In doing so, three main issues will be addressed: VALUE CREATION - the role of the enterprise in value creation between capital and labour; RESPONSIBILITY - responsible vs irresponsible capitalism; SOCIAL ACTOR - the conception of the enterprise as a social rather than only and economic actor. Bridging perspectives coming from economics, business studies and economic sociology, this paper depicts a robust theoretical and conceptual framework to be used for further empirical research.


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How to Cite

FIORAVANTE, R., & DEL BALDO, M. (2021). Capitalism with a Purpose: Can Business Ethics Fight Inequality?. Postmodern Openings, 12(1Sup1). Retrieved from



Theoretical articles