All About Business Essay

3406 words - 14 pages

Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in the e-Economy: A Commentary
Abstract
The paper addresses the concepts of business ethics and corporate social responsibility in the old vis-à-vis the new economy. The effects of globalization and its impact on the transition from the industrial to the digital era are explored. Although the behaviour of business organizations has always had a profound worldwide impact, with the decline of the nation state economic power has, for the first time, eroded political power. Simultaneously, the undergoing revolution in contemporary information and communication technologies has significantly empowered the customer. Responding to enhanced ...view middle of the document...

e. they must interact with the environment in order to survive. …. "The organization has to find and obtain needed resources, interpret and act on environmental changes, dispose of outputs, and control and coordinate internal activities in the face of environmental disturbances and uncertainty" (ibid, p. 14). The fact that business organizations are open systems means that although businesses must make a profit in order to survive they must balance their desire for profit against the needs and desires of the society within which they operate. Hence, despite the fact that in market economies business organizations are traditionally allowed some degree of discretion … being "ostensibly free to choose what goods and services they produce, the markets they aim to serve and the processes by which they produce" (Smith and Johnson, 1996, p. 28), organized societies around the world did indeed establish principles and developed rules or standards of conduct - both legal and implicit - in order to guide businesses in their efforts to earn profits in ways that do not harm society as a whole.
The word ethics in the term business ethics comes from the Greek word ethos meaning "character or custom" (Shaw and Barry, op.cit, p.3). Ethics has been defined in a variety of ways, inter alia, as: "the study of morality" (Velasquez, 1998, p.7); "inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to mean moral judgments, standards and rules of conduct" (Ferrell and Fraedrich, 1997, p.5); and/or as "the code of moral principles and values that governs the behaviors of a person or group with respect to what is right or wrong" (Daft, opcit, p. 326). Based on these conceptualizations, the definition of business ethics adopted here comprises "the moral principles and standards that guide behavior in the world of business" (Ferrell and Fraedrich, opcit, p. 6), whereas "an organization's obligation to maximize its positive impact, and minimize its negative impact, on society" is being termed corporate social responsibility (Ferrell and Fraedrich, p. 67).
Corporate social responsibility is a multidimensional construct comprising four subsets of (1) economic; (2) legal; (3) ethical; and (4) voluntary philanthropic responsibilities (Carroll, 1989, pp 30-33; Ferrell and Fraedrich, ibid, p.6). The economic responsibilities of a business are to produce goods and services that society needs and wants at a price that can perpetuate the business and satisfy its obligations to investors. Thus social responsibility, as it relates to the economy, encompasses a number of specific issues including how businesses relate to competition, shareholders, consumers, employees, the local community and the physical environment. The legal responsibilities of businesses are simply the laws and regulations they must obey. It is the bare minimum required of business organizations by society in return for allowing them to obtain the inputs they need from the environment,...

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