Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Why Giants Fall

By Ronald R. Sims | Go to book overview
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Understanding Corporate Citizenship: Social Responsibility, Responsiveness, and Performance

INTRODUCTION

The history of U.S. business is riddled with sordid tales of magnates who went to any length in their quest for success, in the process destroying not only the country's natural resources and the public's trust but also the hopes and dreams of millions of people. For example, John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, regularly bribed politicians and stepped over others in his quest to monopolize the oil industry

Of course, unsavory business practices are not merely a relic of the past. For example, recent reports of bribes and kickbacks have tarnished the reputation of the International Olympic Organizing Committee, accusations of fraudulent practice in its auto-repair business raised ethical questions about the venerable retail giant Sears, and the bond-trading scandal at Salomon Brothers led to the company's demise. Clearly, human greed has not faded from the business scene. Something, however, has changed—the public's acceptance of unethical or socially irresponsible behavior by organizations. Consider this statement by a leading expert on business ethics: “Ethical standards, whether formal or informal, changed tremendously in the twentieth century and there is every indication that they will continue to do so throughout this century.” 1 Standards are considerably higher as many organizations, as well as the public, expect more sensitive behavior in

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