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Ethical Perspectives on Social Responsibility, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1298

Research Paper
  • Introduction

In every organization the role of the leader is to be the face of trustworthiness and honesty, accountability, and ethics. The organization is dependent of the actions from a top down approach as the behaviors of the leaders influence the work environment of the organization. In every organization ethics and corporate responsibility are essential in maintaining a sustainable relationship between the shareholders, the organization, and the public. According to Caldwell, “When leadership behaviors are perceived as trustworthy through the observer’s mediating lens, trust increases and leaders are more likely to be viewed as ethical stewards who honor the higher level of duties.” (Caldwell, Hayes, & Long, 2010, p. 497) Throughout the course the subject of business ethics and the pertinent role it plays within organization in molding leaders, culture, and regulations from recent events. The purpose of this outline is to provide an analysis authors Cohen, Drucker, and Beebe on the roles of ethics and social responsibility within organizations.

  • Concept of Social Responsibility

Peter Drucker coined, “The Father of Modern Management” defined social responsibility as, “Every organization must assume full responsibility for its impact on employees, the environment, customers, and whomever and whatever it touches. That is social responsibility.” (Cohen, 2009) He foresaw many of the changes that would progress in the fields of business and management. He saw the importance of organizations being responsible with management as producing economic results was a priority to organizations. However, “there can be no authority without responbilily or vice versa.” (Cohen, 2009) Organizations are social institute with social responsibilities that they must adhere to in order to continue their economic results. Drucker is far from alone in assessment of social responsibility as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines it as, “a balanced approach for organizations to address economic, social and environmental issues in a way that aims to benefit people, communities and society.” (Leonard and McAdam, 2003) The concept that includes issues beyond the business world such as human rights, environmental issues, social development, hazardous work environments (factories, employees), and unethical/unfair business practices.

  • Cohen’s View of Social Responsibility

Cohen relies on the research and intelligence gathered from Peter Drucker over the years, however independent of Drucker’s view, Cohen views corporate responsibility relationship to its workers and stakeholders intrinsic on the way they treat their relationship (or lack of) on society as whole. According to Cohen pertaining to the workers that responbilily is not the traditional method treating responsibility as a way that self-interest from the managers and the organization will serve the greater good. These assumptions made will on hinder the company. “The formation of our character creates predictability, dependability and consistency.”(Beebe, 2012)

  • Pertaining to the workers, the organization has the responsibility to treat the workers as a resource and not a costs. The organization must strive to train leaders and the consideration for the workers were the responsibility of the leader just as other essential factors in the organization.
  • For the stakeholders since Drucker believes that the first social responsibility is to make a profit to be sustainable for the future. (Cohen, 2012) The stakeholders’ main concern is for the business to be profitable in for them to get their return on investments.
  • For society social responsibility is a competitive advantage and an encouragement to organizations as they act as a social institution that has social responsibilities. (Cohen, 2012)
  • Cohen’s Perspective Aligned With Drucker’s

Considering that Cohen repeatedly praises Drucker and was Peter Drucker’s first executive Ph.D. graduate, he models his business ethic perspective and approach after Drucker. Although from different times, Drucker research and writings have all come to fruition. Cohen sees that social responsibility today is the new “it” within the business world, and many companies have strike up agreements and deals in order to stay ahead of the competition and to garner the good graces of the public. However, social responsibility is important to organizations in sustaining the relations with all facets of the organization including social, environmental, stakeholders, and workers. Cohen closely follows Drucker’s perspective as a guiding tool for organizations and managers to realize their social responbilily within their organizations as their perspectives mirror each other’s.

  • Cohen’s Perspective Compared to Friedman’s Perspective

Friedman like Drucker perspectives were formed way before Cohen’s as they write from an earlier time within American history and business. Unlike Cohen, Friedman ideologies on social responsibility are not in alignment. Friedman inserts that, “A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense.” (Friedman, 1970) Friedman doesn’t feel that businesses can have social responsibilities as there are not an actual person, or a social institution as Cohen puts it, but a business that only serves to benefit the business. In further explanation the “free-enterprise” that Friedman shares that the economic system is enables owners to act as owners that employs executives and others to lead their organization. The executives and owners have a direct responsibility to their employees, and “to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.” (Friedman, 1970) It is only by some suggestions from employees having other objectives are charitable organizations, schools, and hospitals are built at which the executive will still have responsibility for the employees that opened up the buildings but not the structures themselves. Friedman points out that executive that spend their own money to fund these services do so as their own social responsibility not as an agent of the organization. Cohen while agrees that owners and executive have responsibility to their employees and business, as well as their social development within their backyard. Friedman feels that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” (Friedman, 1970)

  • Perspective Aligns best with promoting a green environment

The best perspective would be of Cohen’s/Drucker’s that feel that the organizations are built as social institutions that social responsibilities towards their workers, stakeholders, and society. In serving society, organizations must strive for sustainable resolutions in keeping the environment alive for the future of the society. Cohen lays out that companies such as DOW Chemical Company, Toyota, Sears Roebuck, and DuPont all made changes in the way they handle hazardous chemicals, recycling, and research to develop products that won’t have harmful effects on the environment. Their perspective sheds light on dual purpose dynamic that fosters a positive green environment while creating a competitive advantage over other organizations. Cohen and Drucker both feel that encouraging a work environment where leadership is the key is pertinent in stabilization a definitive policy on social responsibility that includes policies for a green environment that focuses on allocating resources, learning ways to cut costs while helping the environment, and creating sustainability reports that aid in the green movement.

Resources

Aronson, E. (2001), “Integrating Leadership Styles and Ethical Perspectives.” CAN J ADM SCI, 18: 244–256. Doi: 10.1111/j.1936-4490.2001.tb00260.x

Beebe, Gayle. (2012). “Character Formation: Foundation of Effective Leadership.” Leadership Excellence.

Cohen, William. (2009). “What Drucker Taught Us About Social Responsibility.” Leader to Leader.

Drucket, Peter. (n.d). “What is Business Ethics.” The Public Interest.

Friedman, Milton. (1970). “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” The New York Times Magazine.

Leonard, Denis, McAdam, Rodney. (2003). “Corporate Social Responsibility.” Quality Progress. Retrieved from http://texasquality.org/SiteImages/125/Reference%20Library/Social%20Responsibility%20-%20Leonard.pdf

Lindgreen, A. and Swaen, V. (2010), Corporate Social Responsibility. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12: 1–7. Doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2009.00277.x

Windsor, Duane. (2006). “Corporate Social Responsibility: Three Key Approaches.” Journal of Management Studies Volume 43, Issue 1, pages 93–114. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-486.2006.00584.x

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