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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Organizational theory and ethics are not only mutually informing and entangled historically, they may also be codependent. A key foundational principle in both organization studies and ethics is ‘constrained optimization’. The operating and at least implicit primary purpose or reason for being of an organization is what is optimized. Optimization is both a normative idea and a descriptive idea. This article focuses on various types of business organization. What is constrained and optimized for government and nonprofit organizations can be very different. It proceeds, analyzes, and compares how key theorists from the time of Adam Smith, who analyze both ethics and business organizational forms, consider varieties of constrained optimization. This article considers six different types of constrained optimization and analyses change processes through which varieties of constrained optimization evolve.

Keywords: organizational theory, ethics, organization studies, constrained optimization, nonprofit organizations

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