Questioning the Moral Foundations of Management
Edited by Sara Louise Muhr, Bent Meier Sørensen and Steen Vallentin
Chapter 5: The Business of Business and the Politics of Opinion
5. The business of business and the politics of opinion Steen Vallentin Sentiment is a corrupting and debilitating influence in business. It fosters leniency, inefficiency, sluggishness, extravagance, and hardens the innovationary arteries. . . . The governing rule in industry should be that something is good only if it pays. Otherwise it is alien and impermissible. This is the rule of capitalism. Theodore Levitt, 1958 I call myself a liberal in the true sense of liberal, in the sense in which it means of and pertaining to freedom. Milton Friedman, 1975 1. INTRODUCTION Recently, several calls have been made for a politically enlarged conceptualization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Margolis and Walsh 2003; Scherer and Palazzo 2007; see also Dubbink 2004; Matten and Crane 2005, Matten and Moon 2008, Vallentin 2009). These calls have been motivated by the dramatic increase of corporate power and influence in the global economy – with the rise of the multinational corporation and corporate entanglement in a variety of activities and issues that have hitherto been associated with the state/government or civil society, namely philanthropy and community investment, environmental management, workers’ rights and welfare, human rights, animal rights and corruption. Private companies can not only be considered as citizens in and by themselves (vis-à-vis the notion of corporate citizenship), they are also increasingly assuming, sharing or taking over the function of protecting, facilitating and enabling other citizens’ rights. Examples of this include business involvement in educational and community development programs, provision of health and educational services for workers...
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