The article opens with: “the idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed.”
It continues by supporting Mr. Hancock’s in-class assertion: ”Irrelevant or ineffective, take your pick. But it’s worse than that. The danger is that a focus on social responsibility will delay or discourage more-effective measures to enhance social welfare in those cases where profits and the public good are at odds. As society looks to companies to address these problems, the real solutions may be ignored.”
The article’s concludes that the issue of corporate “ethics” is best understood as a financial calculation –
In the end, social responsibility is a financial calculation for executives, just like any other aspect of their business. The only sure way to influence corporate decision making is to impose an unacceptable cost—regulatory mandates, taxes, punitive fines, public embarrassment—on socially unacceptable behavior.
Pleas for corporate social responsibility will be truly embraced only by those executives who are smart enough to see that doing the right thing is a byproduct of their pursuit of profit. And that renders such pleas pointless.”
For those that are curious, here’s the list of “The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s”
Note Mokhiber’s caveat #2 – Corporations define the laws under which they live. (a reasonable assertion given our lobby-ridden legislative process)
Do these perspectives add up to suggest that the ultimate responsibility lies with individual citizen-consumers?