The Conscience of Capitalism: Business Social Responsibility to Communities

The Conscience of Capitalism: Business Social Responsibility to Communities

The Conscience of Capitalism: Business Social Responsibility to Communities

The Conscience of Capitalism: Business Social Responsibility to Communities

Synopsis

The common wisdom that business contributions to the common good are counterproductive in the new competitive global marketplace does not hold up to empirical research. In fact, doing good is good for business. In her exhaustive survey of the Iowa business community, Besser discovered that business owners and managers often act out of a sense of community spirit and a certain obligation to better the common good. She demonstrates that, while the increasingly globalized economy has encouraged a number of large corporations to become freewheelers, the vast majority of companies are firmly rooted in place and look at their locales with more than just a utilitarian eye.

Excerpt

On a cool Saturday morning in April in the small Iowa town of Socksberg, about 25 people gather in front of City Hall. They are organizing work details to plant flowers and tidy up the downtown area, the parks, and around the town signs that announce “Socksberg, A Town with a Future” along the two highways into town. A group of local business owners and managers planned the work and recruited other business operators, friends, and neighbors to help. A local greenhouse donated the flowers. Tools and materials were provided by local businesses. As the group waits for others to arrive, they eat doughnuts and drink coffee, both donated by the local bakery. Lunch will be provided by the downtown deli and meat market, and served by volunteers from the Jaycees. Among the people standing around City Hall are three downtown retail store owners, two bank officers, a pharmacist who owns and manages the local pharmacy and medical supply store, a realtor, a couple of insurance agents, the owner of a local trucking firm and two of his employees, the agricultural co-op manager, and several retired citizens.

Although the details of the Socksberg spring cleanup project just described are fictitious, the general facts are true. Socksberg business people organize, finance, and staff a spring cleanup every year, plus many other community betterment projects. Yet when Newsweek carried the story, “The Good Corporation: RIP” in 1993, the average resident of Socksberg might have agreed with many other Americans that the good corporation is dead, or at least endangered. The disparity between residents' impressions of

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