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Business and society: Reconciling profit-seeking behavior and social responsibility


Latest main shifts within the international financial and geo-political landscapes, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and now, the Ukraine warfare, have introduced into sharp focus the social responsibility of enterprise. Many thought leaders, together with parts of the enterprise neighborhood itself, are advocating that companies ought to focus much less on the creation of wealth for his or her house owners and play a extra lively position in serving the fabric wants of the neighborhood.

The title of this essay implies that there’s an inherent battle between profit-seeking behavior and social responsibility. Many administration students and enterprise practitioners consider that companies can’t be each worthwhile and benevolent on the similar time.

I maintain a considerably totally different view.

The profit-maximization doctrine is on the core of classical and neoclassical economics. Furthermore, the lure of revenue has been the primary driving pressure behind the entrepreneurial spirit that made capitalism the world’s dominant financial system.

By long-standing custom, enterprise companies search to maximise short-run earnings for his or her house owners, or within the case of public companies, to maximise shareholder wealth.

Earnings are usually realized by extracting financial worth from the companies’ different stakeholders—their prospects, employees, suppliers and the remainder of the neighborhood. Within the language of economics, this is named a zero-sum recreation—what one beneficial properties, the opposite loses.

Companies create worth for his or her house owners on the expense of their different main stakeholders in a variety of methods:

  • short-changing prospects with poor high quality and higher-priced items and providers;
  • underpaying employees;
  • making the most of enterprise companions;
  • contributing to social and financial inequality; and
  • degrading the setting

Nonetheless, from a long-run, strategic perspective, these commonplace practices are self-defeating. For 2 causes:

  • They stop enterprise companies from maximizing the manufacturing of financial worth, which, in any case, is their mandated position for society
  • They stop companies from maximizing their earnings over the lengthy haul, which is the commonly accepted purpose of enterprise technique

Stakeholder technique

Another view, one developed in my forthcoming e book “Strategy in the new age of capitalism: Collaborative and Inclusive Approaches to Value Creation” (College of the Philippines Press, 2022), holds that companies can maximize shareholder wealth by creating worth for all their stakeholders, significantly those who comprise the poorest members of the neighborhood.

This different method to shareholder wealth maximization, generally often called stakeholder technique, has a variety of implications for company technique:

  • create worth for shoppers by enhancing product high quality, promoting merchandise and providers at moderately low costs, and offering sufficient buyer care;
  • create worth for employees by providing comfy wages and different monetary advantages and offering a wholesome work setting;
  • create worth for suppliers and distributors by participating them in a mutually useful, trusting and collaborative relationship;
  • create worth for the remainder of the neighborhood primarily by creating the untapped productive potential of these on the backside of the social pyramid—the poorest and the least productive members of society; and
  • dedicate assets to keep up a wholesome and sustainable ecosystem.

The financial assets allotted for these functions are to be regarded not as short-run prices to be minimized, however as long-run investments to make the enterprise extra productive and worthwhile

In sum, by creating worth for his or her stakeholders, companies on the similar time are in a position to maximize their output of products and providers over time, and allow them to generate extra earnings for themselves.

The lasting affect of the COVID-19 pandemic

We conclude by displaying how enterprise and society have benefited from what number of companies have responded to the continuing pandemic.

For all of the ache and struggling attributable to the COVID-19, it has additionally given us causes for optimism in regards to the future.

It has accelerated the event of life-saving vaccines that used to take years to develop. We refer, particularly, to the event of mRNA expertise within the subject of immunology, notably within the improvement of anti-COVID-19 vaccines, a feat made attainable by the shut collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech.

It has hastened the tempo of technological innovation by ushering within the period of open knowledge. With prodding from governments, Huge Tech has made their knowledge and software program extra accessible to smaller tech companies and to shoppers.

It has prompted governments to take a position closely in record-breaking financial stimulus packages. These initiatives embrace the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act of 2021, and President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program. Not solely do these measures enhance society’s capability to supply financial worth, however in addition they have a tendency to scale back poverty and reduce financial inequality.

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has despatched the highly effective message to company managers the world over that their financial fortunes and these of their different stakeholders are intimately and inextricably intertwined, and that what advantages or adversely impacts one will even be felt by all others.

The belief that “we’re all in this together” has tended to foster nearer ties and higher collaboration between enterprise companies and their stakeholders. INQ

The article displays the private opinion of the writer and doesn’t replicate the official stand of the Administration Affiliation of the Philippines or MAP. The writer is a retired professor of economics and administration, and at present professorial lecturer on the College of the Philippines – Diliman. Suggestions at [email protected] and [email protected]

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