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Social Responsibility and Ethics

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1 Social Responsibility and Ethics
Chapter 5 Social Responsibility and Ethics

2 What Is Social Responsibility?
The Classical View Maximize profits for the benefit of the stockholders Doing “social good” unjustifiably increases costs Managers regularly face decisions that have a dimension of social responsibility. We define social responsibility as a business’s obligation, beyond that required by law and economics, to pursue long-term goals that are good for society. This definition assumes that a business obeys laws and pursues economic interests. But also note that this definition views business as a moral agent. That is, in its effort to do good for society, it must differentiate between right and wrong. The more obvious examples include: employee relations, philanthropy, pricing, resource conservation, product quality, and doing business in countries that violate human rights. There are two opposing views of what social responsibility is. 1. The classical view is the view that management’s only social responsibility is to maximize profits. a. Milton Friedman is the most outspoken advocate of this view. b. He argues that managers’ primary responsibility is to operate the business in the best interests of the stockholders—the true owners of the organization.

3 What Is Social Responsibility? (cont’d)
The Socio-economic View Management should also protect and improve society’s welfare Corporations are responsible not only to stockholders Firms have a moral responsibility to larger society “to do the right thing” 2. The socio-economic view is the view that management’s social responsibility goes beyond the making of profits to include protecting and improving society’s welfare. a. The argument behind this view is that corporations are not independent entities responsible only to stockholders. b. Also, modern organizations are no longer just economic institutions. Society expects businesses to become involved in social, political, and legal issues.

4 Approaches to Social Responsibility
Obstructionist Defensive Accommodative Proactive Approach Approach Approach Approach Disregard Minimal Moderate Strong for social commitment commitment commitment responsibility to social to social to social responsibility responsibility responsibility A. Obstructionist approach: avoids social responsibility. Obstructionist managers engage in unethical and illegal behaviour, and try to hide their behaviour from organizational stakeholders and society at large. B. Defensive approach: minimal socially responsible position. These organizations have a commitment to ethical behaviour, making sure that employees behave legally and no harm is done to others. The claims and interests of shareholders come first with this approach, and little attention is paid to other stakeholders. C. Accommodative approach: going beyond legal requirements, choosing to support social responsibility in a balanced fashion. Accommodative managers try to balance the interests of shareholders with those of other stakeholders by making choices that appear reasonable to all members of society. D. Proactive approach: finds out about and meets the needs of different stakeholder groups. Promotes the interests of stockholders, shareholders, and stakeholders, using organizational resources to do so. These managers feel a responsibility to society as a whole. The defensive approach is consistent with the classical view, while the accommodative and proactive approaches are consistent with the socio-economic view. No Social Responsibility High Social Responsibility Source: Adapted from S.L. Wartick and P.L. Cochran, “The Evolution of the Corporate Social Performance Model,” Academy of Management Review, October 1985, p. 766.

5 Arguments For and Against Social Responsibility
Public expectations Long-run profits Ethical obligation Public image Better environment Discouragement of further governmental regulation Balance of responsibility and power Stockholder interests Possession of resources Superiority of prevention over cure Against Violation of profit maximization Dilution of purpose Costs Lack of skills Lack of accountability How do socially responsible activities affect a company’s economic performance? A. The majority of studies found a positive relationship between social involvement and economic performance, but some caution is necessary because of methodological questions associated with trying to measure social responsibility and economic performance.

6 Managerial Ethics Ethics Defined Four Views of Ethics
The rules and principles that define right and wrong conduct Four Views of Ethics Utilitarian view Rights view Theory of justice view Integrative social contracts theory Recent corporate scandals including Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and ImClone may cause many to conclude that corporate America has no ethics. The term ethics refers to rules and principles that define right and wrong conduct. Four Views of Ethics 1. Utilitarian view of ethics says that ethical decisions are made solely on the basis of their outcomes or consequences. 2. Rights view of ethics is concerned with respecting and protecting individual liberties and privileges such as the rights to privacy, free speech, and due process. 3. Theory of justice view of ethics is where managers impose and enforce rules fairly and impartially and do so by following all legal rules and regulations. 4. Integrative social contracts theory proposes that ethical decisions be based on existing ethical norms in industries and communities in determining what constitutes right and wrong.

7 Managerial Ethics (cont’d)
Utilitarian View Greatest good is provided for the greatest number Encourages efficiency and productivity and is consistent with the goal of profit maximization Rights View Respecting and protecting individual liberties and privileges Seeks to protect individual rights of conscience, free speech, life and safety, and due process

8 Managerial Ethics (cont’d)
The Theory of Justice Organizational rules are enforced fairly and impartially and follow all legal rules and regulations Protects the interests of underrepresented stakeholders and the rights of employees Integrative Social Contracts Theory Ethical decisions should be based on existing ethical norms in industries and communities Based on integration of the general social contract and the specific contract between community members

9 Ethics in an International Context
Ethical standards are not universal Social and cultural differences determine acceptable behaviours Are ethical standards universal? Hardly! Social and cultural differences between countries are important environmental factors that determine ethical and unethical behaviour.

10 How Managers Can Improve Ethical Behaviour in an Organization
Hire individuals with high ethical standards. Establish codes of ethics and decision rules. Lead by example. Delineate job goals and performance appraisal mechanisms. Provide ethics training. Conduct independent social audits. Provide support for individuals facing ethical dilemmas. 1. The selection process for bringing new employees into organizations should be viewed as an opportunity to learn about an individual’s level of moral development, personal values, ego strength, and locus of control. 2. A code of ethics is a formal statement of an organization’s primary values and the ethical rules it expects employees to follow. Ethical leadership is also an important element in fostering ethical behaviour. Top management’s leadership and commitment to ethical behaviour is extremely important because it’s the top managers who set the cultural tone. 4. Employees’ job goals should be tangible and realistic, because when goals are clear and realistic, they reduce ambiguity and motivate rather than punish. Job goals are usually a key issue in performance appraisal. If an organization wants its employees to uphold high ethical standards, it must include this dimension in its appraisal process. Performance appraisals should be comprehensive and not just focus on economic outcomes. 5. Ethics training should be used to help teach ethical problem solving and to present simulations of ethical situations that might arise. If it does nothing else, ethics training should increase awareness of ethical issues 6. Independent social audits evaluate decisions and management practices in terms of the organization’s code of ethics and can be used to deter unethical behaviour. 7. Finally, organizations can provide formal protective mechanisms so that employees with ethical dilemmas can do something about them without fear of reprisal. “Whistle-blowers” can be a key part of a company’s ethics program because they are willing to step forward and expose unethical behaviour, no matter what the cost professionally or personally. The company must limit these potential negative effects.

11 Code of Ethics A formal statement of an organization’s primary values and the ethical rules it expects its employees to follow Be a dependable organizational citizen Don’t do anything unlawful or improper that will harm the organization Be good to customers A code of ethics is a formal statement of an organization’s primary values and the ethical rules it expects employees to follow. Also, decision rules can be developed to guide managers in handling ethical dilemmas in decision-making. A survey of companies’ codes of ethics found their content tended to fall into three categories: 1. Be a dependable organizational citizen; 2. Don’t do anything unlawful or improper that will harm the organization; and 3. Be good to customers. Source: F.R. David, “An Empirical Study of Codes of Business Ethics: A Strategic Perspective.” Paper presented at the 48th Annual Academy of Management Conference, Anaheim, California, August 1988.

12 Effective Use of a Code of Ethics
Develop a code of ethics to guide decision making Communicate the code regularly Have all levels of management show commitment to the code Publicly reprimand and consistently discipline those who break the code

13 Ethical Leadership Managers must provide a good role model by:
Being ethical and honest at all times Telling the truth Admitting failure and not trying to cover it up Communicating shared ethical values to employees through symbols, stories, and slogans Rewarding employees who behave ethically and punishing those who do not Protecting employees (whistleblowers) who bring to light unethical behaviours or raise ethical issues Ethical leadership is also an important element in fostering ethical behaviour. Top management’s leadership and commitment to ethical behaviour is extremely important because it’s the top managers who set the cultural tone.

14 The Value of Ethics Training
Training can make a difference in ethical behaviours Training increases employee awareness of ethical issues in business decisions Training clarifies and reinforces the standards of conduct Employees are more confident of support when taking unpopular but ethically correct stances

15 Social Responsibility VS Green Management VS Sustainability

16 What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is generally defined as using resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987; Daly and Cobb, 1994). The triple bottom line, a concept developed by Elkington (1998, 2004) which simultaneously considers and balances economic, environmental and social goals from microeconomic standpoint.

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