Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 6: Against ethics and CSR: a call for a science-based market-holistic approach to sustainability in business
During the past 60 years, the nature of capitalism, and particularly the nature of the corporation, has gone through a tumultuous transformation. In his book Supercapitalism (2007), former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich offers a rich and detailed account of the rise and fall of the ‘grand bargain’ between corporations and society that was forged and fostered during the booming years after the Second World War. Starting from 1948, the USA witnessed an era of unprecedented and steady economic growth. Competition during this era was limited and relatively benign, dominated by a few large corporations. As business boomed and the collective pie grew fast, it was easy to share. The citizenry could expect businesses to provide health care and lend a helping hand in community development and other social functions. Businesses were understanding of the wage demands of their unionized workers, which resulted in the growth of the purchasing power of the middle class, in turn driving growth and expanding consumption. Corporations were also more understanding and supportive of legislature passing bills that benefited society as a whole, even if they temporarily hindered business. Without overindulging in nostalgic thinking, it is still fair to say that for nearly three decades after the Second World War, middle-class workers, corporations and the government were more or less able to work together and develop communities through consensus.
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