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24. Business ethics and religion


Subject Business and Management, Religion
Ethics » Practical (Applied) Ethics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631201304.2002.00026.x


On the night of December 11, 1995, fire destroyed a century-old factory complex in Methuen, Massachussets, belonging to Malden Mills, manufacturer of Polartec fabric. Within days of the fire, Malden's CEO and President, Aaron Feuerstein, made a dramatic announcement: he pledged to rebuild his textile operation in Methuen and to continue to pay the full salaries of employees for 30 days. This pledge was later extended several times. As a result of this and other decisions, Feuerstein's handling of the crisis has come to be regarded as a classic instance of ethically responsible business management. (For a fuller presentation of the facts of this episode, see the unpublished case by Penelope Washbourn.) Feuerstein's decisions were substantially shaped by his Orthodox Jewish faith. In speeches, interviews, and writings, Feuerstein repeatedly refers to biblical and rabbinic teachings to explain his conduct. For example, Feuerstein (1997) began a recent address before a national society of business ethicists by reciting the Shema, the ancient prayer uttered daily by Jews: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, is One.” This ritual testimony to monotheism, Feuerstein observed, underlay his refusal to separate his private ethics from his business ethics, and led him to bring his concern for his employees into his business decision making. The separation of personal and professional responsibility ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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