The notion of extant social contracts (ESC), which was the original contribution that Tom Dunfee provided to contractualist business ethics (CBE) and Integrated Social Contracts Theory (ISCT) more specifically, has commanded less research attention to date than one would expect based on its apparent empirical face validity and its disciplinary spanning potential. This article attempts to revive the ESC concept in both normative and positive research at the intersection of business, management, and ethics and law. After identifying three features that positively distinguish ESC from ISCT, this article argues that the yet unrealized conceptual potential of ESC is most likely to be cashed out when it is applied to the field of private international business regulation and when it is conceptually connected to the legitimizing perspective of institutional theory.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Business Ethics
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Oosterhout, H., & Heugens, P. (2009). Extant Social Contracts in Global Business Regulation: Outline of a Research Agenda. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(SUPPL. 4), 729–740. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0329-0