Care and Loyalty in the Workplace

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

M. Sander-Staudt & M. Hamington (Eds.). Applying Care Ethics to Business. New York: Springer.




The dominant approach to loyalty in workplace relations presumes that loyalty and its expressions are best captured in the ethics of impartiality and universality. But expressions of loyalty are about showing partiality to someone on the basis that one cares for or is concerned about her, and the morality of such expression depends largely on the context. We argue that an analysis of loyalty is thus better accomplished by approaching it as an expression of care and concern, and more accurately understood by examining it as an analog to relationships of friends and family. Loyalty involves a disposition to go above and beyond what is already required by the contract; on our view, the best analysis of loyalty lies in a care ethic that treats loyalty as an expression of partiality that is subordinate to general moral requirements. We then apply this conception of loyalty to the personal aspects of business relationships and argue that the natural development of loyalty is praiseworthy and rightly contained within our conception of the ideal employee, but at the same time is neither a duty nor a virtue—loyalty can be deserved but not obligated. Although loyalty is not always an unambiguous good, in a caring (business) relationship, being loyal to a large corporation can contribute to a flourishing relationship between the employee and the corporation as a whole.

Original Publication Citation

Oxley, J., & Wittkower, D.E. (2011). Care and loyalty in the workplace. In M. Sander-Staudt & M. Hamington (Eds.), Applying care ethics to business (pp. 221-244). New York: Springer.