This week we explored the idea corporate social responsibility alongside an examination of the role of business in society. One opinion characterized as the dominant view, put forward by Milton Friedman, hold’s the purpose of business is to make as much legal profit for its owners as possible. Contrasted with this is the stakeholder view, put forward by Edward R. Freeman, which claims the function of a business is to provide value for a complex network of stakeholders throughout the society in which it operates. While these two views are not mutually exclusively, decisions must regularly be made in which one view must be prioritized over the other.
Regarding The Case of the Hungry Children (see separate page within the module) a major multinational electronics company (Havells) undertook an initiative to ensure tens of thousands of school children were fed and educated. This behavior contrasts Friedman’s position, who argued such actions should only be taken by individuals and by governments. However, the case also makes the point that such behaviors are ultimately in line with a business’s bottom line (profit) interests. Using information from our three chapters this week respond to the following prompts.
- Do the motives behind Havells’ action change the ethical nature of their programs? In other words, if done purely out of enlightened self-interest are the programs less ethical? Defend your answer with ethical reasoning from week one.
- Consider Duska’s example of the distinction between a purpose of education (to develop one’s mind) and the motive for education (to get a job). Now, craft a position statement (2-3 sentences) on what the purpose of a business is; being sure to support the position with reasoning you encountered this week from one of our authors.
- Freeman claims “Capitalism works because we can pursue our purpose with others”, which highlights the interdependent nature of the system. The larger a company, the more it requires involvement and support of “others” to achieve its operational goals. Given this awareness do you believe corporations have a responsibility to positively contribute to society in a way commensurate to their resources (i.e. more wealthy corporations have more responsibility)? Why or why not?
Discussion Board Assignments:
Submissions should be between 300-600 words.