Corporate Social Responsibility
The different aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been the topic of considerable debate since the last decades of the twentieth century. Main factor for the increased interest on the part of stakeholders in this topic are the increased public awareness and interest in the corporate social responsibility following the Information Revolution. This essay will assess the dangers and benefits of the business ethics for most of the stakeholders – employees, organizations, society, shareholders and the environment. It will also explore specific examples of corporate social responsibility in different large corporations and will make a comparison between two large companies’ ethical policies. The position that I will defend is that people behind corporations are the ones who can be philanthropic but enterprises themselves can only be driven by the laws of market (which in the modern economic reality in most Western countries demands an increasing attention to business ethics). According to Boddy (2008) some entrepreneurs like Titus Salt, Jeremiah Coleman and George Cadbury developed their enterprises with social responsibility and philanthropy from the start of the Industrial Revolution. However until the last decades of the twentieth century the dominant view was that the profit making organization’s responsibility to its shareholders should be set above all other responsibilities. Buchanan and Huczynski (2010) argue that the significance of corporate social responsibility has increased dramatically in the last decades because of two main reasons: the number of high profile corporate scandals (significant examples could be found in the fate of the United States’ giant corporations Enron and Worldcom) and the increased media scrutiny of organization practices. As Rollinson (2008) argues, the organizational responsibility to the wider society is provoked by the increased public interest and is stimulated by government legislature in the last half century. The corporate social responsibility has been variously defined as “the view that organizations should act ethically, in ways that contribute to economic development, the environment, quality of working life, local communities, and the wider society” (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010); and as “the awareness, acceptance and management of the wider implications of corporate decisions” (Boddy, 2008). The authors also distinguish different types of business ethics. Daft (2008) argues that there are three domains of corporate social responsibility. Their role is to distinguish whether an action is ethical or not compared to: the legal standards, the social standards and the personal standards. In the first domain people agree that an action is ethical if it is not illegal according to the operative legislation in the given country. The second domain, of social standards, considers the socially accepted principles and values about what kind of human behaviour is legal and ethical according to the society. The third domain is the one of free choice. In this domain actions are judged by the personal moral values of the individual, which might be different from the socially accepted principles of behaviour. Linstead et al. (2004) list five objections to business ethics: psychological egotism; Machiavellian; legal-moral; agency arguments; and cultural relativism. Psychological egotists claim that “taking other people’s interest into account runs contrary to good business” (Linstead et al., 2004). However Linstead et al. (2004) argue that this theory is refuted by any action of genuine altruism. The Machiavellian theory states that achieving a certain goal justifies the ways, through which it has been achieved. The same author also refutes that theory by arguing that “if it is OK for business to develop their own brand of ethics implies that business does not impact on wider society”. The legal-moral objection to business ethics implies the belief...
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