Exploring the Idea of a Self-Regulating Corporation
Chapter 1: Towards corporate self-regulation
It is hard to imagine a world without multinational corporations (MNCs). They provide much-needed goods and services, undertake invaluable research and development, and coordinate most of the world’s trade and investment. Without them, it would be impossible to telephone family and friends overseas, travel to new and exotic destinations, watch global events on television, or indulge in life’s many luxuries. Indeed, if MNCs did not exist, our life experiences would be truncated, localised and, in all probability, quite miserable. But when they spill toxic chemicals into our rivers, pollute the atmosphere, defraud investors, and are linked to mercenary groups and wicked dictatorships, critics are right to question whether they do more harm than good. When challenged about their activities, MNCs have often claimed that their sole purpose is to maximise shareholder value. They exist to make a profit, and return a portion of that profit to those individuals who have a financial stake in the success of the company. In order to live up to this commitment, it is sometimes necessary for them to engage in socially questionable ventures, such as mining on traditional lands or logging old-growth forests.