Confucian Ethics, Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility

  •  Patrick Cheng Low    
  •  Sik Ang    


The authors believe that the reasons for the corporate and financial institution collapses, business scams, frauds
and bankruptcies and other unethical practices in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world have
very much to do with leadership, governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Kothari, 2010; Low,
2009; 2009a; Low and Ang, 2011; 2012; 2012a; 2012b). Whenever an organisation collapses, employees (labour)
suffer; they are not protected; they are the first to go; and they face retrenchments and unemployment.
Facing with such uncertainty in the business world, the authors feel that business leaders and managers need or
should seek fresh and effective ways of thinking and actions in applying business ethical principles in decision
making to sustain their business performance and growth; protecting their labour or workforce in line with
corporate social responsibility in a global setting.
The authors interpret and present Confucian ethics and business lessons derived from Confucius’ sagely wisdom.
From Confucian ethics emanate the emphasis on social obligations, ethical decision-making, positive business
dealings and harmonious relationships within the organisation and the value of learning and education; these
bring attendant benefits and good practices including good business management and labour practices as well as
corporate social responsibility. The paper too includes a research model, research methodology and its findings,
discussions as well as an analysis with its concluding remarks. The understandings and practices of Confucian
ethics and social obligation in a business organization coupled with awareness and applications of corporate
social responsibility can bring much peace, harmony, learning and economic growth for both the organization
and the community well-being in the region.
This paper specifically aims to bring in an Asian historical perspective and insights to the field of CSR and
compare them with the Western perspective. It is hoped that by engaging some of the rising leaders and
managers from both Western and non-Western countries, the understanding of CSR of its terminology can be
further explained, clarified and be better used a basis for developing linkages between Western and Asian

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