Economics at your fingertips  

Aquinas’s Principle of Misericordia in Corporations: Implications for Workers and other Stakeholders

Angus Robson ()
Additional contact information
Angus Robson: Northumbria University

Humanistic Management Journal, 2022, vol. 7, issue 2, No 4, 233-257

Abstract: Abstract Despite its central position in the history of European and Christian thought on the protection of human dignity, the virtue of mercy is currently a problematic and under-developed concept in business ethics, compared to related ideas of care, compassion or philanthropy. The aim of this article is to argue for its revival as a core principle of ethical business practice. The article is conceptual in method. An overview is provided of the scope of contemporary business ethics research on related topics and clarifies some of the similarities and differences between mercy and popular terms, such as compassion and prosocial behaviour. The question is then explored as to why mercy has so little traction in business ethics. Some of the history of the idea of mercy in European and Anglophone philosophy is discussed, from Anselm and Aquinas to the present day, showing how discourse on mercy came to be split into a wider concept of the prevention and alleviation of suffering (misericordia) and a narrower one of clemency or leniency. Aquinas’s wide concept of the virtue of misericordia is developed as the basis for a principle of mercy, which is applicable directly to corporations. The practical implications of this for standards of corporate behaviour towards employees and other stakeholders are then considered through the introduction of a ‘vulnerability grid’. The grid offers a critical contrast to other analysis tools, such as stakeholder power-interest matrices. Cases drawn from empirical studies are used to illustrate application of the grid and to challenge some common assumptions of stakeholder theory.

Keywords: Mercy; Compassion; Aquinas; Virtue ethics; Stakeholder theory; Precarious work (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

DOI: 10.1007/s41463-022-00137-1

Access Statistics for this article

Humanistic Management Journal is currently edited by Michael Pirson

More articles in Humanistic Management Journal from Springer
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

Page updated 2022-11-27
Handle: RePEc:spr:humman:v:7:y:2022:i:2:d:10.1007_s41463-022-00137-1