09 September 2010

Social Responsibility and Philathropy

My MBA program started this week. I am taking two classes, Marketing Management and Business and It's Environment. So far it has been easy for me to adapt to the online environment of readings, discussions, and self discipline. With only two classes, and currently no job, I will hopefully have plenty of time for class work and dabbling in grant writing.

I thought I would share this first discussion from my business environment course on The Social Responsibility of Businesses. The professor asked us to read a 1970's article by professor and economist, Milton Freidman, as well as this article debate from 2005. In his article from the 1970s Times, Freidman says that the only social responsibility a business should have is to increase profits for it's shareholders. Other forms of social responsibility are either a "cloak" to disguise efforts to increase profit, or corporation inflicted taxes on shareholders to fix something that the government is not.

The article debate from Reason.com is a little long, but really interesting. It's fun to read the debates between these three intellectual, corporate-focused men. I found myself swayed several times throughout the debate, as well as the usual confused. In the end, I still find myself on the side of Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. While I think that corporations are in essence created to be profitable, I believe that some are also created with philanthropic intents, like Whole Foods. People choose to work there, be on the board, and hold it's stock, because of their mission to better the world. If they didn't want money from the company to go to outside charities, they wouldn't be a shareholder in the organization. My opinion, is that the world should have more companies who look outside of themselves, while remaining profitable and efficient to help the world in ways that fit their mission statement.  However, I don't devalue companies who exist for the sole purpose of making a profit, as long as they live by laws and refrain from fraud.

Welcome to my class!