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Abstract

In this paper, I present a vision of the corporation as a moral person. I point to “the separation of ownership and control” as a moment when the corporation broke away from the moral lives of ownermanagers. I then draw out the manner in which we can speak of the company as a moral person. Finally, through a discussion of social reporting in two British banks, I point to a shift in how this moral personhood is articulated, with the rise of corporate governance—or doing business well—as its own foundation of corporate responsibility. I propose a view of corporate responsibility as a “transmission mechanism” for the company’s role in moral life, situated in the broader social conception of “moral economy.” This viewpoint sets out landscapes of legitimation and justification through which the ties that underpin economic life are founded.