Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 13: What can ants tell us about corporate social responsibility?
Can studies on the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, enlighten us about the nature of corporate social responsibility? From an anatomical perspective, the answer is no. Fire ants are small, six-legged invertebrates that touch and sniff their way through their social environment using long, hairy antennae. To a lesser extent, fire ants use vision and taste. In contrast, we are large two-legged vertebrates who navigate our social environment using sight and sound; to a lesser extent, we use smell, taste and touch. However, from a behavioral perspective, the answer is absolutely yes. Similarities abound. Both humans and ants build permanent homes in which to rear family members. Both species establish and defend a territory around the home, declaring war on neighbors who attempt to invade. Both species hunt, forage and transport food to the home wherein it is further processed before distribution to infants and the elders (Cassill and Tschinkel, 1995, 1996, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c; Cassill, 2003). Both species provide shelter and food for the injured until they are healed or dead. Both species transport their dead to a grave site near, but not in, the home. From an organization perspective, the similarities between fire ants and humans are profound, differing by degree rather than kind. Like corporations, ant colonies are composed of leaders and workers. Leaders establish the goals for production, profit and survival; workers implement those goals. In ants, the leader is the queen; the workers are her sterile offspring.
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