Daniel K. Saint

The Firm as a Nexus of Relationships: Toward a New Story of Corporate Purpose

by Daniel K. Saint
Benedictine University
May, 2005

Business corporations are among the world’s most powerful social and economic organizations. There is a growing consensus that the future health of our planet is inextricably intertwined with the activity of business. Our theories of corporate culture and responsibility influence how business will conduct that activity. The purpose of this dissertation is to enliven current theory and develop new insights by exploring how executives, who are committed to both shareholder value and societal contribution, talk about the purpose of business. Generative theory is the research approach with social construction as the metatheoretical lens. Primary data sources include thirty interviews with senior business executives from large corporations, participant observation based on the author’s experience as an executive, and the literature of stakeholder and economic theory.