Foundations of Management
The concept of social responsibility is a continually evolving concept and means different things to different people. Numerous researches have tried to arrive at a consensus definition of social responsibility but have failed to do so. However, the concept of social responsibility has existed since the beginning of mankind and has slowly evolved to its present state (Petit 12). Many people and groups (the leaders) feel that business has an ethical obligation to correct the social problems that beset society.
At the same time, many of these leaders feel that much of the business community has not and is not adequately dealing with many of these ethical problems of concern. All of these forces place pressure on business to respond to the emerging major social issues of the day. Many businesses today feel that in order to respond effectively and efficiently to the major social responsibility issues and demands of the day, ethic policy must be integrated into corporate strategy (Petit 23).
Corporate executives will have to include ethic guidelines into the strategic plans from which the functional policies and operational plans will be derived. The burden of implementing and achieving the social ethical goals will lie on the shoulders of leadership.
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This is definitely the basic approach that some of the larger more efficient and profitable businesses are taking today. Peter Drucker expresses this concept by saying: “To do good in order to do well,” that is to convert social needs and problems into profitable business opportunities, is rarely considered by today’s advocates of ‘social responsibility. ” William Norris (the founder and CEO of Control Data Corporation) feels “that it is the purpose of business to do well by doing good” (53).
This concept of “doing good by doing well,” or progressing from “doing good to doing better,” in the area of social responsibility simply means that social responsibility is and should be handled as a corporate investment . That will result in a long-run corporate profit and not a corporate expense. Most businesses would probably like to achieve this goal, but for many businesses this may be easier said than done. Although a very desirable and commendable objective, not all leaders feel that the “doing good to doing better” concept is achievable or readily applicable to their business.
Not all Australian, European, or multinational businesses look at and treat social responsibility in the same manner. For Australian businesses, the concept is not totally new; nor is it free from some dangerous pitfalls or the ultimate solution to all social responsibility problems. Most dictionaries define investment along the lines of “committing or use of (money, capital, etc. ) for the purchase of property, securities, a business project, etc.
, with the expectation of a profit” (Sparkes 56). Therefore, any investment, by definition, is expected to result in a profit for the company. The question must then be asked, can and should all social responsibility items, no matter how judiciously handled, result in increased profits for the company? Is this the best place to invest the money, or can greater returns be achieved elsewhere? These and other similar questions must be answered when it comes to company growth and survival.
Before the “doing good to doing better” concept can work it must have the complete blessing and support of top management and be inculcated and totally supported all the way down the organizational ladder. Studies have shown that this may take several years to accomplish (Pava 78). It is a long-term educational process. If everyone in the company does not support the concept, it is subject to failure anywhere along the line. If outside stakeholders are not properly educated and do not understand the concept and processes involved – and if they do not agree with it – then the entire program can falter and even fail.