Issues of social responsibility will doubtless continue to be vigorously debated, and with mixed feelings. In 1975, the Wall Street Journal asserted that morbidity had overtaken the concept of social responsibility. The evidence cited included the cancellation of a national seminar on the subject for lack of participants, and the discontinuation of the Business and Society Newsletter. The editorial expressed doubts that the idea of corporate social responsibility has had impact on the business community (Wall Street Journal, 1975). A wave of protest followed. Arguing the opposite case, rebuttals stressed the need to judge corporations by their actions not by the quantity of media references or attendance at meetings.
All organizations pose ethical problems for managers. All decisions have ethical aspects. Research on ethical problems, however, has been largely confined to business organizations, no doubt because they are numerous, powerful, close to money and its potential evils, and strongly tied to other institutions in society.
Serious studies of the ethics and ethical attitudes of businessmen reveal much uncertainty about what constitutes ethical behavior, and even about whether ethics are important. Ethical behavior does not consist of clear-cut choices between right and wrong. Managers incorporate ethical implications into decisions along with other criteria only if they...
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... part satisfactory. On the dilemma of illegal payoffs, for example, one survey showed about seventy-five percent of the respondents believe bribes and payoffs are not problems in their industries. Fifty-two percent said US companies should adhere to US standards in conducting overseas business, whereas forty-eight percent said the commercial modes and standards of the foreign countries should be followed (Unusual Foreign Payments: A Survey of the Policies and products of U.S. Companies abroad, 1976).
Despite the complexities, organizations- particularly large and powerful corporations- are increasing their efforts to include combinations of the following:
1. Establishing policies and guidelines for ethical behavior
2. Incorporating ethics and values into processes of education
3. Developing codes of conduct; and
4. Using advisors on ethical and moral problems
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