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Business And Social Responsibility Essay

1495 words - 6 pages

The problem that was investigated consisted of a question that Milton Friedman posed in one of his articles, which was featured in The New York Times Magazine in 1970. The question was, “What does it mean to say that “business” has responsibilities” (Friedman, 2007, p. 173)? Friedman (1970) elaborated on how businesses cannot have assigned responsibilities. Furthermore, he described how groups or individuals should be the only ones that can hold responsibilities, not businesses. He stated that associating responsibilities with the word business is too ambiguous. I will examine three discussion questions and three compare and contrast questions which Jennings (2009) posed in a case study that is related to Friedman’s (1970) article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”.
The first discussion question posed was, “How does Dr. Friedman characterize discussions on the “social responsibilities of business”? Why (Jennings, 2009, p. 79)? Friedman (1970) characterized the discussions on social responsibilities as one hundred percent unadulterated socialism. Friedman (1970) characterized these discussions in that manner because he felt that a corporate executive should focus solely on making profits and not on social aspects. He mentioned how people who conduct and express themselves in this fashion are positively reinforcing and supporting the actions of individuals that have been weakening the foundational blocks of free society. Friedman (1970) posed a question which was the crux of his 1970 article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” where he investigated the true contextual meaning of what responsibilities mean to businesses. Friedman describes how businesses cannot have assigned responsibilities and that only people can have can responsibilities. Friedman (1970) explained that tangible responsibilities as they relate to businesses are too ambiguous and that a system of accountability does not exist for a single person or a group. Therefore, Friedman (1970) said the only way we can accurately answer the social responsibility question was to first question what does the question mean and to whom is the question directed.
The second discussion question posed was, “What is the role of a corporate executive selected by stockholders” (Jennings, 2009, p. 79)? The role of a corporate executive selected by stockholders is to be an agent “serving the interest of his principal” (Friedman, 2007, p. 175). For instance, Friedman (1970) described an agent as one who generally focuses on increasing company profits and executing tasks that will grow the company. Equally important, he mentioned that sometimes companies are established by people whose focus are eleemosynary services (like the Boys and Girls Club or Red Cross) and not for profit generation. Those companies would have a different role for their corporate executives in that the executives would focus on providing Good...

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