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The Moral Responsibility of Firms$
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Eric W. Orts and N. Craig Smith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198738534.001.0001

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The Diachronic Moral Responsibility of Firms

The Diachronic Moral Responsibility of Firms

(p.53) 3 The Diachronic Moral Responsibility of Firms
The Moral Responsibility of Firms

Peter A. French

Oxford University Press

There are two different ways in which responsibility may be ascribed to an agent for the same event. One way focuses on the responsibility for some action at the time of its occurrence, and the other on responsibility for an action at a time subsequent to the action. The former are referred to as ascriptions of synchronic responsibility, and the latter as diachronic responsibility. This chapter examines different accounts of the right relationship between diachronic and synchronic responsibility by focusing on BP’s responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It is suggested that studies of self-narrative development in corporations could reveal stages of corporate cultural maturity according to the extent of illusion, delusion, falsehood, and fabrication in the self-narratives that shape corporate cultures and are relevant to diachronic responsibility.

Keywords:   responsibility, diachronic and synchronic responsibility, corporate identity over time, psychological connectedness, narrative coherence, corporate culture, cultural maturity, self-narratives, corporate accountability, British Petroleum, operational change

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