Faculty Profile: Marvin Brown

Photograph of MarvinBrown
Marvin Brown

School: Psychology and Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Marvin Brown, Ph.D. will be teaching “Ethics of Social Transformation, Thinking like a Global Citizen,” Fall, 2013. This course brings together his interests in social justice, civic ethics, and sustainability. www.civilizingtheeconomy.com

Marvin’s recent writings have been arguing for a civic foundation for economics so one could design an economy that would made provisions for all (Civilizing the Economy: A New Economics of Provision, Cambridge, 2010). He embeds the civic in the struggles for human rights and inclusion, and in the space between our common humanity and our social differences. This year, he will attend a conference on the commons in Berlin and another on creativity and morality in Shanghai, where he will have chances to deepen these themes.

Marvin Brown has been teaching, writing, and consulting in business and organizational ethics for over 30 years. He continues to teach business ethics in the Philosophy Department at the University of San Francisco. He has previously taught organizational ethics at Saybrook University, Alliant International University and JFK University.

Along side his teaching, Marvin has served as an ethics consultant for such companies as Levi Strauss and Company and Northern California Automobile Association. He has given presentations on business and organizational ethics in the USA, Germany, Poland, Argentina, Venezuela, and China.

Besides his book, Civilizing the Economy, he is the author of Working Ethics (1990), The Ethical Process (1993), Corporate Integrity (2005), and The Ethics of Disagreement (2013). His books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish, Italian, Korean, and Chinese.

He has a Ph.D. from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, a M.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York and a B.A from Nebraska Wesleyan University. He has recently received a Faculty Service Award from the University of San Francisco, and an Alumni Achievement Award from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Curriculum Vitae

Degrees, Discipline, Year, Institution

Ph.D. Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, 1978
MD. Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, 1969
BA. Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 1965

Current Projects and Professional Activities

Research on notions of the civic, the social, and the commons

Continuing research on slavery and capitalism, especially Adam Smith's silence about it.

Looking at the ethics of accountability for elites.

Current Publications




"Designing the Future Economy," Catalyst: Strategic Design Review, June, 2012, 48-54


Chinese translation of essay "Civilizing Wealth Creation," and publication of Chinese edition of Capital, Credit, and Responsibility of Crisis. 2011.


Chinese translation of Corporate Integrity, 2012



A Review of Nicholas Phillipson's book, Adam Smith, An Enlightened Life, Review of Social Economy, 2011, August.







Significant Publications

Working Ethics: Strategies for Decision Making and Organizational Responsibility, Basic Resources, 2000 (Spanish and Portuguese translations).


 Civilizing the Economy: A New Economics of Provision, Cambridge University Press, 2010


Corporate Integrity: Rethinking Organizational Integrity and Leadership, Cambridge University Press, 2005 (Italian, Korean, and Chinese translations)


The Ethical Process: An Approach to Disagreement and Controversial Issues, Third Edition, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall,2003 (German and Polish translations)


1998 “Concepts and Experience of the “Valuing Diversity and Ethics” workshops at Levi Strauss and Company,” in Ethics in International Management. de Gruyter Studies in Organizations, ed. B. Kumar & H. Steinmann, Germany.







Important Conference Presentations

“Reframing the Commonwealth,” Eastern Association of Social Economics, New York City, Feb., 12-14, 2012

“Economic Integrity, Corporations, and Business Ethics,” International Society of Business,Economics, and Ethics, Warsaw, Poland, July, 2012

Contextual Integrity of Business,” European Business Ethics Network Research Conference, Dublin, Ireland, June 8 – 10.2011

  “Civilizing Wealth Creation” Second Business Ethics Conference, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, China, November,2010

Chair of Panel “Rights and Responsibilities of Corporations in National Politics,” Society of Business Ethics, Montreal, Quebec, August 7 – 10.

Author meets Critics, American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting, April 4, San Francisco.



Research Interests

My current research focuses on the relationships among the commons, the civic, the social, and the political.  I am examining their relationships in different contexts, and how this framework can help us develop strategies for social transformation.  I am also continuing  my writing on the significance of context for understanding organizational integrity.

Research Expertise

My research expertise would be in the following areas: the ethics of economics, organizational and business ethics, strategies for change, and theories of interpretation (hermeneutics).



Expertise Working with Saybrook Students

My expertise may come in handy for students who wish to engage in a normative analysis of organizational issues or practices, or wish to know more about the multi-dimensional relationship between context and conduct.

Research Expertise

Research Expertise Rating Guide:

  1. studied in a class or have read intensively on my own
  2. special training in the form of a workshop or equivalent
  3. taught a class in, or supervised research using this method (research practicum, on a dissertation or master's committee
  4. used in research myself
  5. published or presented at conferences my research using this method

Methods Traditionally Considered As Quantitative (But Need Not Be)

Laboratory Research
Field Experiments
Randomized Controlled Clinical
Quasi-experimental methods
Correlational Methods

Methods That Could Use Quantitative Or Qualitative Methods

Action Research
Survey Research
Interview Research
Observational Research
Epidemiological Research
Focus Groups
Self-Observational Methods
Narrative Methods
Feminist Methods
Content Analysis
Discovery-Oriented (psychotherapy)
Events paradigm (psychotherapy)
Archival Research
Case History Methods
Appreciative Inquiry
Multiple Case Depth Research
Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design
Longitudinal research
Cross-sectional research

Methods Primarily Associated With Qualitative Research (But May Also Use Quantitative)

Ethnoautobiographical research
Grounded Theory
Heuristic Research

Types of Analysis

Simple Parametric Statistics (t-test, etc.)
Confidence intervals
Analysis of Variance (including MANOVA)
Analysis of Covariance
Regression (including multiple regression)
Discriminant Function Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling/Path Analysis
Causal Modeling
Cluster Analysis
Survival Analysis
Bayesian Analysis
Meta-analysis and effect sizes
Factor Analysis
Time series analysis
Multidimensional scaling