Playing with Morality: Business Ethics of a Professional Baseball Club in Taiwan

  • Jérôme Soldani
Keywords: Taiwan, Professional baseball, Business ethics, Moral values, Corruption, Fans


Baseball is considered the national sport in Taiwan. Professional teams are owned by large local firms and are themselves small companies offering an archetypal model of society. Their practices are based on moral values around which their fans are unified. This is also a legacy of the social responsibility transferred to the Taiwanese firms by the former authoritarian regime (from the 1950s to the 1980s). Based on twelve months’ fieldwork with a Taiwanese baseball club now owned by a holding company, this paper shows how the club is viewed as a firm structured around moral values and whose players are established as moral paragons. The model of a united, hierarchical family is highlighted by the original owners, a family firm which founded the club in 1984, and by the team’s iconography. However, these methods of commodifying the team as a value-based family are faced with the realities of daily practices and the corruption scandals that regularly undermine the image of the Taiwanese professional league. The current company owner (from 2014) has tried to maintain this image of virtue, with some adjustments, in order to maintain the fans’ identification with the club. The business ethics of the club is the outcome of these adjustments and negotiations between the owners, the players, and the fans.