Individualism Mechanism in Modern Corporations

Topics: Anita Roddick, General Motors, Corporation Pages: 7 (1901 words) Published: November 13, 2013


Individualism Mechanism in Modern Corporations
Without guidance from morality, it is naturally that corporations move towards individualism to some extent. In modern corporations, the imbalances of enterprise ethics aggravate the phenomenon of individualism, which is also an extreme reaction. Bakan describes the corporation as “the pathological pursuit of profit and power”. A value of “the profit is the only rule” causes nothing but negative effects on corporations. Only under a principle and moral corporate system constraints, the corporation can achieve long-term development. In this paper, I will primarily discuss the key negative individualisms existing in corporations, mainly reflected in their responsibility to society and employees, leading to effective resolutions for business management.

The corporation is an institution – a unique structure and set of imperatives that direct the actions of people within it (Bakan 1). The corporation itself is an organic whole, and every single employee is part of the whole. In this case, it is mutual responsibilities between the employee and the corporation for each other. A truly preeminent corporation should build an outstanding culture, which is that the corporation’s excellence is not from the demands to their employees but how to treat their employees. However, for the employee, concerning the corporation should be initial issue. On the basis, they should help to create and protect a favorable image and reputation for their corporation.

Individualism is of two kinds in corporations: one is positive individualism and the other is negative individualism. Positive individualism is in the context of collectivism, to pursue and maximize their interests based upon protecting common benefits. However, the important characteristic of negative individualism is self-centered and egoism, which basically is behaved in two respects, the social responsibility and the employee responsibility. The corporation is total a psychopath in Dr. Hare’s opinion, they are singularly selfinterested; are irresponsible, try to manipulate everything; are grandiose; lack empathy and

have asocial tendencies; refuse to accept responsibility; are unable to feel remorse and finally relate to others superficially. Friedman believes: they must make as much as money as possible for their shareholders. This is a moral imperative. Executives who choose social and environment goals over profits – who try to act morally – are, in fact, immoral (34). The most obvious absence of social responsibility of individualism in corporations, which can be viewed as one of the “externalities”(Bakan 60), is the negative effect corporations have on the environment and humanitarianism.

One well-known example, which is also provided by Bakan, is that the General Motors (See Appendix) issue in 1993. A car slammed into the back of Patricia Anderson’s 1979 Chevrolet Malibu car on the way her driving home on a midnight, with her four children seating in the backseats, causing it to burst into flames. After the preliminary examination, “the evidence in the trial showed that General Motors had been aware of the possibility of fuel-fed fires when it had designed the Malibu and some of its other models as well” (Bakan 62). The General Motors put profits above public safety. It is a classic case of individualism in the corporation for pursuing and maximizing the profits. “Corporate social responsibility is like the call boxes. It holds out promises of help, reassures people, and sometimes works” (Bakan 50). Under the circumstance that pursuing maximum economic benefits is the fundamental target of business, it is inevitable that social responsibility has been overlooked. The managers of corporations should change from pursuing the short-term benefits maximum to the long-term benefits maximum, and that is the practice of focusing public interest.

The negative individualism is also mainly manifested within the...

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