Does It Make Sense To Talk About The Character Of A Company?

There’s a theory that corporations are–or, are like–people.

Set aside whether you agree with this position. I want to assume for a moment it’s true. If it is true, does it make sense to talk about the character of a corporation?

I don’t presume to know everything about business. Yet, I know for sure that it’s complex enough to think that if corporations are people, they have the same theoretical and empirical problems individual humans do when it comes to character. For example, take a look at the evidence for situationism.   

Situationism, generally, the idea that individuals are shaped more by their environment rather than something called character, presents a challenge for virtue ethics, one of the major ethical theories.

If situationism is true for the individual, I presume it is probably also true for the corporation. So, does it make sense to think of corporations as having a character? Many corporations try to make it seem as if they have a clearly defined character by consistently branding themselves. Yet, whether they actually have a character and whether this character matches the brand is something altogether different.

It remains to be seen whether corporations have a character. If they do, and if virtue ethics is correct, it may be possible to have more or less virtuous corporations.