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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Corporations as Community Citizens: Embedding Humanitarian Values into Corporate Activity

Mr Trevor Goddard.

The legal entity principle of limited liability sets corporations apart from individual citizens within a community. This fundamental difference has powerful implications for the rights and responsibilities perceived and adopted by corporations that are in conflict with the individuals that make up the corporation. Under this framework, corporations may not be able to express and deliver humanitarian goals as easily as the individuals within it.

Corporate citizenship offers a framework for a new way of constructing business that allows the business case and social case for attending to humanitarian need to ‘become at one’. As corporations are both a social construct, with a legal framework, there is a moral limitation to the use of capitalism to drive financial objectives only that is eventually to the detriment of the wider community and humanity at large.

This paper highlights the commonality of the business and social case for attending to the human side of business, identifying them as one and the same. A corporation in innately a human enterprise as it is made up of people. For this reason, the ethical distance that exists between corporation and community can be reduced by closely matching the values of the individuals within an organisation to those expressed in the corporation’s activity within the community. This allows corporate activity to take on a humanistic face as it closely reflects the humanitarian values of employees and wider community stakeholders.


Mr Trevor Goddard  (Australia)
School of Occupational Therapy
Curtin University of Technology

  • Corporate citizenship
  • Community
  • Business case
  • Social case

(Virtual Presentation, English)