Social responsibility project topic: textbook expenses are too costly

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Project Topic: Textbook expenses are too costly and limit some students

Social Responsibility Project: One component of this course is a social responsibility project. You will identify a problem IN OUR CAMPUS!

Pick recent, local, and interesting issues you find close to your heart. The problems themselves can be minor, but solutions can make changes in these communities.

14–16-page  (double-spaced can include exhibits/visuals/ tables). Please use section headings to organize your writing. Use any citation style, e.g., APA or MLA format, but APA is preferred. Visit these websites for more information.

Executive Summary (ES), single-spaced of 250 words or less – should provide the reader with a clear sense of the purpose and content of the memo (or report).

 The following headline should include in the report: Executive Summary, Background, why is This a Complex Issue?  Importance of this issue,  Stakeholder Analysis, Political Activity, Recommended Solution, Conclusion.

I included two sample reports for this project. You can just follow their format. 

Social Responsibility Project: One component of this course is a social responsibility project. As a group, you will identify a problem IN OUR CAMPUS!

Pick recent, local, and interesting issues that you find close to your heart. The problems themselves can be minor but solutions can make changes in these communities.

The follow headline should include in the report: Executive Summary, Background, why is This a Complex Issue? Importance of this issue, Stakeholder Analysis, Political Activity , Recommended Solution, Conclusion.

I included two sample reports for this project.

Social Responsibility Topic: Textbook expenses are too costly and limit some students.

Textbooks cost a lot of money, and that’s a big problem for many college students. On some campuses, it’s hard to find textbooks that are affordable or other resources that can help. Students struggle to find cheaper options, and this can put a lot of financial pressure on them. Not having the textbook creates obstacles to pass classes because they have limited information on the material; professors typically only have time to cover the main concepts.  This problem creates unfairness because not everyone can access the materials they need to succeed in their education.

The output of this process is a 14–16-page paper (double-spaced can include exhibits / visuals/ tables) Please use sections headings to organize your writing. Use any citation style, e.g., APA or MLA format, but APA is preferred. Visit these websites for more information.

Executive Summary (ES), single-spaced of 250 words or less – should provide the reader with a clear sense of the purpose and content of the memo (or report).




Executive Summary & Introduction

Executive summary & Introduction; Provide the reader with background information, a clear sense of the purpose and content of the report.

Why is this a complex issue


External Analysis — Did the report examine the relevant prospective environment for a time frame consistent with the issue?

Identify external factors affecting the issue you want to solve:

Stakeholder Analysis

Policy & Regulatory Environment


Rigor of External Analysis

Your final project report should use the appropriate

frameworks from the class that are germane to the problem.

Stakeholder mapping –

Force-field analysis


Internal Analysis -1

Background about the organization

Background about Organization

Political Strategies


Rigor of Internal Analysis

Rigor of Analysis: Your final project report should use the appropriate

frameworks from the class that are germane to the problem.

Political activity analysis (connections/ lobbying)


Problem Identification

Appropriate analytical use and understanding of analyses to identify the main problem

Issue/Problem Identified clearly?

Why is it important to solve this problem?

What are the costs ( social/monetary) if don’t solve this problem?


Ability to construct and evaluate viable solutions to the issue

Your recommendations should be logically consistent with your analysis. You should also not recommend an alternative that you have not carefully analyzed.

I want creative solutions, and it is also important that you consider the realities that may act as barriers to certain strategies (e.g., politics, culture, access to resources).

How are you going to solve the issue? Stakeholder management

Road Map – Timeline of your solution – things to do


Writing Competence /Visuals : Is the report written in the given format (page limits, exhibits, bibliography, cover page, page number, etc.)?

Is the document well written, grammatically correct, easy to understand, well formatted and logically well structured?

Formality/Informality of the report (Appropriate tone). Is the logic of the approach taken clear (cohesiveness
)? Is the report addressed to Company Management?

Is the report interesting to read or boring? Any use of visuals, charts, etc.? Is the report significantly different and interesting (creativity)?

Company Logo/ Letterhead?


Final Score

· The output of this process is a 14-16 page paper (double-spaced can include exhibits / visuals/ tables ) Please use sections headings to organize your writing. Use any citation style, e.g., APA or MLA format, but APA is preferred. Visit these websites for more information

· Executive Summary (ES), single-spaced of 250 words or less – should provide the reader with a clear sense of the purpose and content of the memo (or report).

California Crisis: College Student Homelessness

Executive Summary

Many California college students are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness due to the inflated cost of living in California and the rising costs of tuition. The lack of affordable and adequate housing has caused California students to look for alternative housing styles which pose risks to their health. The financial struggles that students face to make ends meet negatively impacts college students’ ability to balance their physical health, mental wellbeing, and their academic success, which can impact their chances to graduate and enter the professional world. Due to the complexity of the issue and the varying demands and large number of stakeholders related to the matter, solutions must be localized and meet the financial constraints of California colleges. We propose that California colleges immediately implement an overnight open gymnasium (gym) program to provide their homeless student population a safe place to sleep and fulfill their hygiene needs.


Though it’s no surprise that thriving and vibrant communities rely on educated workers to maintain their economy and ensure that they have a qualified workforce to maintain key societal functions and institutions, not much thought is given to the struggles that California students face to obtain an education. Some estimates show that the cost to live in California is over eleven percent higher than the United States average, but even more dramatic is that the cost of housing in California is almost sixteen percent higher than the national average (Cost of Living in California (US) Compared to United States). College students struggle to obtain an income that covers their basic necessities let alone the rising costs of higher education, which has greatly contributed to California’s college student homelessness crisis. Student homelessness was defined in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 as those without access to “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (“42 USC CHAPTER 119, SUBCHAPTER VI, Part B: Education for Homeless Children and Youths”).

While housing costs are much higher in California, there is also a student housing shortage that impacts college students. Across the University of California system, 9,400 students were denied university housing this fall because of shortages (University of California Grad Students Demand Higher Pay and Better Conditions). While colleges have long faced pressure from lawmakers to increase enrollment, they might be feeling a similar pressure to expand affordable housing options for students which would require support from local landowners and other community and public stakeholders (Tobias). Even if colleges could provide enough on-campus housing options, living on campus is not affordable either because of the room and board fees that are required to be paid in advance before the semester starts and may not be the best option for those college students that are in a tight financial situation.

The housing shortage and exorbitant costs pushes many college students to explore alternative housing options from couch-surfing, staying with friends, living in their car, or for those who do not own a car, living on the streets. According to a 2020 statistic, fourteen percent of college students were homeless, 52% of community college students experienced housing insecurity, and 43% of university students experienced housing insecurity (Student Homelessness and Basic Needs Insecurity: BestColleges).

A contributing factor to college student homelessness could be whether or not the student comes from a low income or disadvantaged background. Students who have grown up in financially disadvantaged families have not had financial support from their families and have had to come up with their own means to afford their education. Among those disadvantaged groups are students who identify themselves as Indigenous, American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Latino/a or LGBTQ+ students, and all of which are at a higher risk of housing insecurity compared to other ethnic groups (Student Homelessness and Basic Needs Insecurity: BestColleges).

To try and afford college, many California students seek government assistance programs, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to help them pay college tuition fees, books, and transportation. Though FAFSA provided some means of financial support for college students, it is not enough to fully fund every California student’s tuition, housing, transportation, and nutritional needs. Figure 1. below shows some of the insecurity topics felt by college students in 2020.

Figure 1. Housing Insecurity Among College Students, 2020 (Student Homelessness and Basic Needs Insecurity: BestColleges)

Apart from it being dangerous to lack stable housing and to live in transient places, being homeless also poses significant risks to obtaining good grades and being able to graduate. Financial instability for college students often led to emotional stress and food shortages. Many college students that are facing homelessness have limited sources to have accessible food. College students that have limited food often worry about not having enough money to buy more food before running out and struggle to buy healthy balanced meals. Due to this major issue, it has detrimental effects on student’s academic performance and their wellbeing. College students who experience homelessness and food insecurity might show indicators of stress, anxiety, and depression due to their circumstance of not having no access to nutritional food and housing resources. Apart from the stress and anxiety, the mortality rate of cardiovascular disease is 2-3 times higher for homeless adults (Klitzman).

The lack of nutritional food available to students impacts their physical and mental health because they are not getting enough nutrients to function as a student. College students who tend to skip meals or those who cannot afford balanced meals tend to have lower grade point averages (GPAs). Students with lower GPAs have a decreased chance to graduate because college institutions have a GPA requirement in order to graduate. California college student homelessness impacts students to become academically successful and impacts college students to reach their career goals and thus become economically helpful members of their societies.

Complexity of College Homelessness

In recent years, the issue of student homelessness and hunger has gained increased attention in California. According to a 2021 study by the California State University (CSU) system, more than ten percent of CSU students experienced homelessness in 2020 (Graff). That’s nearly 57,000 students struggling to find a stable place to live. Homelessness doesn’t always mean sleeping on the streets; many students who are homeless live temporarily in their cars or couch-surf with friends. In addition to housing insecurity, hunger is also a significant issue for many students. The same CSU study found that between 21 and 24 percent of students reported not eating regularly (Graff).

The problem of student homelessness and hunger is not limited to the CSU system. A survey by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that between 38% and 59% of California community college students experienced food insecurity depending on their location in the past 30 days, and between 49 and 70 percent experienced housing insecurity in the past year (Rab et al.). These findings underscore the scale and severity of the issue across the state.

The root of the problem is the high cost of living in California. Some CSU campuses are located in expensive metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, where it is hard to spend less than $2,000 on rent alone. Combined with tuition fees, which can be upwards of $5,000 per semester, students are left with a hefty financial burden. This is especially challenging for low-income and first-generation students who may need more financial resources or family support to cope with these costs. They may also face additional challenges, such as balancing work and school, navigating the financial aid system, and accessing transportation. These students may be at a higher risk of dropping out of college, which can further exacerbate their financial difficulties.

To address the issue of student homelessness and hunger, universities can take several steps. One approach is to raise awareness among students about the resources available, such as food pantries, emergency funds, and counseling services. Campuses can also partner with community organizations to provide additional support, such as housing assistance and job training. For example, CSU Long Beach partnered with the nonprofit PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) to provide temporary housing for students experiencing homelessness (Rab et al.). Another approach is to advocate for state and federal policy changes to increase higher education funding and expand access to affordable housing and food. In 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that provided $15 million in emergency aid to community college students facing homelessness or food insecurity (Rab et al.). Similar legislation could be implemented at the CSU level.

Moreover, colleges and universities can help prevent homelessness and hunger among students by addressing the root causes of the problem. This includes advocating for affordable housing policies, such as rent control and tenant protections, and increasing financial aid to cover basic needs such as housing and food. Campuses can also explore innovative solutions, such as building student housing on or near campus, offering low-interest student loans, or partnering with employers to provide job opportunities for students.

The issue of student homelessness and hunger in California is a complex and urgent issue that requires attention and action from universities, policymakers, and the broader community. By working together, we can ensure that all students have the basic necessities they need to succeed in college and beyond. However, it is important to note that addressing this issue will require a long-term, collaborative commitment from all stakeholders (e.g., state or federal grants, landowner land price cuts, stakeholder needs meetings, etc.). While emergency funds and temporary solutions can provide immediate relief, a more sustainable approach is needed to ensure that students do not continue to fall through the cracks.

Stakeholder Analysis

Due to the complexity of college student homelessness in California, there are many stakeholders to consider who all have varying levels of concern and influence regarding the issue. Stakeholders range from students, public educational facilities (community colleges and universities), college and university faculty and staff members, governmental entities, private landowners, community organizations, non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations, and more. Given the wide range of relevant stakeholders, the most influential and those most impacted by the issue are presented. Appendix 1. below shows a more comprehensive, yet not all-inclusive look at other relevant stakeholders.


California college students experiencing homelessness are the most relevant stakeholders to this issue, as they have the most to lose and the most to gain. On their own, students have low influence and power to make the changes needed to end homelessness; yet college students have the highest risks of catastrophe if nothing is done to address the issue. College students run the risk of failing their classes leading to an inability to graduate, which means they will have an extremely difficult chance to enter the workforce and earn fair wages. If they are unable to earn fair wages, then their likelihood of becoming a valued constituent to their local political leaders is also diminished–further stifling their voice in society.

While struggling to afford basic necessities, food, and housing, students also lack free time to advocate for themselves and join student coalition groups to lobby for political action to end the homelessness crisis. Homeless students are also very difficult to identify and work with given the transient nature of college and university campuses, the lack of admittance of being homeless due to feelings of perceived shame among other students, and due to various other factors, that are difficult to identify (Cowan).

Colleges and Universities

Similar to the students, California’s community colleges and universities are key stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions to college homelessness. Educational facilities are affected by student homelessness as it impacts student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. In addition, homeless students are at increased risk of physical and mental health issues, which adds pressure to campus medical and wellness centers (Klitzman).

Colleges and universities have limited funds and power to affect nearby housing costs and the cost of living, but they do have the ability to share information to students and can add political pressure by issuing statements and working with lobbyists, advocate groups, and student coalitions. Educational institutions have to allocate funds across many resource areas, and many universities would not be able to keep their doors open if they only relied on tuition and fees, meaning that they have significant financial constraints in terms of directly assisting students with housing costs (Kronk).

The network for colleges and universities is particularly strong when it comes to forming partnerships and coalitions with other higher education facilities in California. For example, the California State University (CSU) system has 23 campuses across California and has the ability to create impactful initiatives. One such CSU initiative is the Basic Needs Initiative, which states that all CSU campuses have food distribution programs, offer emergency housing and funds, and that they all offer additional resources to students to meet their basic needs (Basic Needs Initiative Supporting Students’ Basic Needs
). Each CSU campus has different requirements for housing eligibility with some only applicable for one academic year (Emergency Assistance).

Faculty and Teachers Unions

The faculty and staff at colleges and universities are impacted by the homelessness crisis because their homeless students are at much higher risk of lacking adequate tools and resources to do well and pass their courses, which impacts the success rate of their courses. Alone, faculty and staff have very limited power to address student housing needs, but they can point students they believe are at risk of homelessness to university support services, such as how to find emergency resource pages at their institutions.

In addition to supporting students to locate resources, faculty can join forces and advocate as a group for solutions, such as forming a union. The California Faculty Association (CFA) is one such group of 29,000 faculty members who advocate for programs that support CSU students facing housing instability and homelessness (California Faculty Association – Unite to Win). The CFA has a government relations team that serves as their political action and legislative committee whereby the CFA endorses candidates and works with legislators to draft bills that support both faculty and student needs (Political Advocacy).

In addition to CFA’s political action, teachers’ unions have steadily increased their political involvement and lobbying efforts with their contributions increasing from $4.3 million to over $32 million in just over a decade (Teachers Unions | OpenSecrets). The National Education Association, the NEA Advocacy Fund, and the American Federation of Teachers accounts for the majority of 2021-2022 donation contributions to majorly liberal and democratic candidates (Teachers Unions | OpenSecrets). As shown in Figure 2. below, the left-leaning trend of teacher union support goes back to at least the 1990s. Teachers unions can use their financial contributions to support candidates who advocate for college student support, and these unions can support program development and help align resources to reduce the number of homeless students.

Figure 2. Financial Contributions from Teachers Unions for Democrats and Republicans from 1990 to 2022 (Teachers Unions | OpenSecrets).

Governmental Entities

From a governmental perspective, stakeholders can exist at all levels. Government entities are responsible for funding and implementing various policies aimed at reducing student homelessness, and thus have high influence and power regarding the issue. For example, the U.S. Department of Education oversees the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which enables homeless students to apply for educational funding based on their own income and assets, separate from their parents (Identifying and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness from Pre-School to Post-Secondary Ages | U.S. Department of Education). Governmental agencies have adequate resources and vast networks to leverage their agendas.

If student homelessness goes unaddressed, the government will bear the responsibility of the environmental cleanup costs of homeless encampments and increased costs for medical expenses. Apart from financial impacts, local political leaders will bear an additional burden of a lack of skilled laborers which can impact the economic prosperity of their jurisdiction. Governmental institutions will also likely suffer from the lack of an educated public when times of uncertainty require careful public input and participation.

Non-Profit Organizations (NGOs)

College Track, founded in the Bay Area and now a national NGO, provides resources to first generation, low income, and immigrant students to help them graduate college through the use of their advisory services, financial aid and scholarship grants, mentorships, alumni services, and other career development services (College). College Track is an important stakeholder considering that low-income students are at a much higher risk of becoming homeless which could then impact their ability to graduate.

While direct statements on College Track’s work to prevent college student homelessness is not apparent, they spend 80% of their funding on programs, nine percent on fundraising, and twelve percent on administrative costs (“Financial Accountability”). The programs they invest in could help students lower their tuition and other education-related costs which could help to reduce homelessness as students can allocate more of their money to housing.

College Gyms as the Recommended Solution

The issue of homelessness among California college students is a growing concern that requires immediate action. To tackle this issue, it is recommended that California college campuses should allow students to sleep inside their gyms at night. The idea of allowing college students to shelter inside the campus gym would provide accommodation and refuge for those who experience homelessness so that they are able to sleep safely and comfortably. In addition, opening up campus gyms would not require additional infrastructure or a large capital investment on behalf of the colleges, so they could implement the solution immediately.

In addition to requiring little financial assistance, the open gym program would also give students access to essential amenities such as showers and bathrooms, which are essential to maintaining student health and dignity. Homeless students’ wellbeing would be greatly increased if they were able to have a safe place to sleep and prepare for their academic day. In addition to access to hygiene services and a safe place to sleep, it is recommended that the college also provide gym lockers to the homeless students so that they can keep their personal belongings secure without worrying about theft. If funding allows, the college could also provide curtains to separate each student’s sleeping area but is not necessarily critical for program implementation.

Colleges must implement a program such that the gyms are used exclusively by college students, and the program should require that students check-in before using the facilities for shelter purposes. This would help to prevent unauthorized individuals from using the gyms and ensure that the resources are available to those who need them most. In addition, in an emergency situation, a full list of the students using the gym would be critical for first responders and rescue operations. We also recommend that the college employs an on-site security guard to monitor the building overnight to further ensure the safety of the students using the program. Many colleges already utilize security monitoring systems and personnel, so it is not anticipated that this would cause undue financial burden.

By providing shelter to homeless college students, this program would have a significant impact on the college community. It would send a clear message that the college cares about the welfare of its students and is willing to take proactive steps to address the issue of homelessness. It would also promote a sense of community among students, as they would be supporting one another during difficult times.

Colleges that implement an open gym policy should make sure it is known to the student population. They must work with school program administrators and faculty to spread the word that this service exists. They should post fliers throughout campus, add the service to their support webpages, and add leaflet fliers to other services that support student wellbeing, such as food pantry programs.

In order to ensure that the program is working for the students, we also recommend that the college conduct stakeholder analyses with the students, potentially via surveys, to determine how the program is working for them. By soliciting feedback from relevant stakeholders, the college can work to continuously improve the program and come up with solutions that reduce the total student population experiencing homelessness.

Case Study

In the Guardian article, “Students Had Nowhere to Sleep, so a San Francisco School Opened the Gym: ‘How Could We Not?’” Gail Cornwall discusses how the Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community school in San Francisco has become the first public elementary school in the country to host a long-term, overnight family shelter. The Stay Over program offers a safe space for families experiencing homelessness, with sleeping mats set up in the gym each evening after school hours. Cafeteria-style tables in a connected room host dinner and homework sessions. Only families with a child enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District can be admitted.

The idea of using school district property for evening and weekend use is not new, but this program is unique in that it offers a long-term solution for families experiencing homelessness. BVHM serves approximately 600 students, with just under 60% of them being English language learners and just over 60% considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. Many of the families are also undocumented or under-documented.

The school’s wellness team had noticed more and more families in crisis, but often the referrals they made to the city and nonprofits didn’t result in any support. BVHM’s staff had been trained in trauma-informed care, and they wanted to help kids not just to overcome, but to avoid altogether the experience of sleeping in a car, living in an overcrowded apartment, or having a parent stay in an abusive relationship to keep a roof over their heads. They knew that housing families in the gym wouldn’t solve everything, but maybe it would solve something.

The shelter has faced some criticism from those who feel that a school should not be responsible for providing shelter for homeless families. However, school administrators have created an online FAQ document addressing concerns around security and hygiene. Despite the program being considered a “Band-Aid” solution by some, it has helped many families in need.

The idea that schools can act as resource hubs for students and their families is known broadly as “community schooling” and has proven successful in schools across the country. By using existing resources, such as school facilities, and by providing support for basic needs such as housing instability, schools can help mitigate the effects of poverty on children and families. The Stay Over program at BVHM is an excellent example of how schools can help address the issue of homelessness and provide much-needed support for families in need.


The recommendation to allow college students to shelter inside college campus gyms is a practical and effective solution to the issue of homelessness among California college students. It would require a nominal financial investment from the college, while providing students with essential amenities, protection, and a sense of community, which are all critical factors in helping them to succeed academically and in life.

Apart from helping students thrive, this program is also expected to result in higher GPAs, higher rates of student retention, and higher graduation rates. This means that the positive effects apply to the university as well as the individual. Furthermore, by increasing the number of educated individuals in a community, California communities will be able to continually develop strong economies that have the essential professionals required to meet rapidly changing societal needs.

Appendix 1. Stakeholder Analysis Research

Appendix 2. Value Chain Analysis for College Homelessness

Works Cited

“42 USC Chapter 119, Subchapter VI, Part B: Education for Homeless Children and Youths.”,

“Backpack Drive for Homeless College Students.” The Manners Housing Foundation, Accessed 12 Feb. 2023.

Basic Needs Initiative Supporting Students’ Basic Needs. The California State University, Nov. 2022.

“California Faculty Association – Unite to Win.” California Faculty Association, 12 Feb. 2023.

“College.” College Track, 11 March 2023.

Cornwall, Gail. “Students had nowhere to sleep, so a San Francisco school opened the gym: ‘How could we not?’” The Guardian, 17 March 2022, Accessed 12 February 2023.

Cost of Living in California (US) Compared to United States. Accessed 11 March 2023.

Cowan, Lee. “Homelessness on Campus.” CBS News, 20 Jan. 2019,

“Emergency Assistance.”, Accessed 12 Feb. 2023.

“Financial Accountability .” College Track, 24 Oct. 2022, Accessed 11 March 2023.

Graff, Amy. “CSU Shocker: Up to 57,000 Students Homeless.”
SFGATE, San Francisco

Chronicle, 21 June 2016,


“Identifying and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness from Pre-School to Post-Secondary Ages | U.S. Department of Education.”, 20 Apr. 2020,

Klitzman, Chad. 2018. “College Student Homelessness: A Hidden Epidemic.” Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems 51 (4): 587–619.

Kronk, Henry. 2019. “How American Colleges Allocate Funds and Resources: Update 2019.” ELearning Inside, 02. Nov. 2019,

“Political Advocacy.” California Faculty Association, Accessed 12 Feb. 2023.

Rab, Sara Goldrick, et al. “California Community Colleges #RealCollege Survey.” Evergreen Valley College, The Hope Center, March 2019, Accessed 12 March February.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christine Baker-Smith, Vanessa Coca, Elizabeth Looker. “California Community Colleges #RealCollege Survey.” 2019.

“Student Homelessness and Basic Needs Insecurity: BestColleges.”, 31 Mar. 2022,

“Teachers Unions | OpenSecrets.”, Accessed 11 March 2023.

Tobias, Manuela. “How California’s Housing Crisis Hurts College Students.” CalMatters, 17

Nov. 2022, shelter/2022/11/california-student-housing-crisis/.

“University of California Grad Students Demand Higher Pay and Better Conditions.” World Socialist Web Site, 12 Oct. 2022,





Team Two 1

Group Final Report – Independent Social Responsibility Project

CASA Alameda

Executive Summary

The California Court Appointed Special Advocates of Alameda County is an organization that is funded through the United States Department of Justice and Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (California CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). The purpose of this organization is to provide children in the child welfare system with advocacy, stability, and support as they develop and grow throughout their adolescent years. The Court Appointed Special Advocates are funded to recruit, train, and prepare ordinary people to provide one year of consistent service for foster care youth; however, due to a minimal number of resources, the number of volunteers has been reduced and CASA has not been able to maintain adequate support to assist their foster care youth. According to recent studies conducted by the CASA Impact Survey, 91% of the youth in foster care are being served by one of the 51 counties with CASA programs (Impact Survey 2019-2020). Without adequate funding and resources, the lives of those youth are left without the support they need in order to recover from traumatic experiences. We propose that CASA address this problem by acquiring additional funding and resources through corporate funding and donations, strategically plan to recruit in areas for long-term workers, ethically balance the caseloads and responsibilities of their volunteers, and continue to request legislation on behalf of CASA and foster care youth.

Company Background

Asserting the slogan, “Every child needs a champion,” the Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocates Program was established as an extension of the California Court Appointed Special Advocates Program in 1987, by the late Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup. The California Court Appointed Special Advocates Program was established in Alameda County in 1977 after judging many court cases concerning foster care youth. (CASA of Alameda County).

The Court Appointed Special Advocates are a group of volunteers who are recruited and trained to assist youth and families experiencing a range of crises. These crises vary from physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and other severe offenses. The Court Appointed Special Advocates, also known as CASA volunteers, are provided with exceptional training and receive supervision from local non-profit organizations that specialize in the well-being of children. CASA spends over $2,500 annually on the recruitment and training of its volunteers. Training involves techniques to address a child holistically by providing trauma-informed care that addresses psycho-social-related issues (California CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). CASA advocates are trained to keep the youth in sync with their communities, educational endeavors, careers, friends, culture, identities, and with their families when appropriately deemed safe by the courts. The CASA volunteers are essential to the foster care youth as they provide a source of psychological and emotional stability and a “constant” for their fundamental growth and well-being (California CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).

Why is This a Complex Issue?

The purpose of CASA is to assist the youth trapped in the foster care system and aid them on their journey toward success. CASA assists children and youth ranging from a few months to 21 years old. The issue that CASA faces is finding the necessary assistance and support for these neglected children. Without the assistance of CASA, many foster children in Alameda County may become victims of the system, have run-ins with the law, and could also become entangled with welfare programs. CASA court appointed volunteers provide guidance and advocacy for foster children who often fall victim to non-supportive, negligent, or even abusive homes that lack the essential financial and psychological resources required to raise a child. CASA volunteers are proven to aid in foster youth crime prevention and in the difficult transition to adulthood. CASA helps solve the problem by providing advocacy, support, resources, and guidance for foster children in these types of situations.


CASA is a significantly valuable and important organization as it provides youth intervention for foster children with a high need for this type of assistance. Research has shown that the introduction of just one caring adult in the life of a child who has experienced trauma can alter the course of the child’s life forever. Having a CASA volunteer serve as the intervention helps foster youth gain the confidence and necessary financial, mental, and health resources that allow the youth to feel safe and secure. CASA volunteers can also serve as positive role models who look out for the best interests of the foster children. The goal of CASA is to place foster youth in permanent homes, help them navigate throughout the court process, and guide them on their journey toward success. CASA Alameda ensures that its volunteers are helping the foster youth navigate through the complex court process and are responsible for advocating effectively on behalf of a foster youth’s needs.

Many children with lack of access to emotional care, financial support, and proper guidance are placed in foster care facilities. Facility owners are tasked with parental duties to provide care and equip children with educational and life skills. Foster care programs are funded by federal and state government agencies.

Within the last ten years, there were 15.7 million children who lived in foster homes in the United States. California was at the top of the list with 6,221 (11.17%) adoptions per year. Between 2010 and 2019, the state placed 62,211 children in the foster care system, followed by Texas (9.61%) and Florida (6.52%) (AFCARS
FY 2010- 2019).

In most circumstances, foster homes are seen as safe options for children in abusive and unsafe households. This assumption was challenged by a study published on June 1, 2008. The study conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation depicts a different reality faced by foster children on many fronts. The data was collected between FY 2000 and FY 2006. According to the paper, 55% of the foster children had been arrested at least once between the ages 18 to 21 in comparison to 8% of children not living in foster care. 61.5% of households had only one foster child while 24.3% had two, and 10% had three or more foster children. (Annie E. Casey 14) Furthermore, it has been reported that foster homes are disadvantaged compared to other households with children. The issue stems from undesired living conditions, such as larger houses with larger numbers of children, a greater ratio of children to adults, low income families, unmarried foster care couples, crowded environments, and adults less likely to work full-time and likely to report living through government assistance (Annie E. Casey 3). These findings shed light on the importance of the external intervention to fix the link between the goal of the foster care programs and a practical system where taxpayers money is spent efficiently and on a productive process.

Children are often placed in foster homes due to the abuse and neglect they experience within their birth homes. By the time they are transferred to foster care, they have already experienced a great deal of physical and mental trauma. The living conditions within foster homes not only adds to their disadvantages, but it also exacerbates their feeling of misery and helplessness. Many older foster children live in a series of foster homes during their care, and in most states, they emancipate on their own at the age of 18. After leaving their foster care homes, many are behind in school and in other critical life skills. This is due to unstable circumstances in the life of a foster child. Oftentimes foster children have to switch to different schools as a result of a change in living arrangements from one place to another. The longer a child lives under foster care, the higher the probability they will be moved from one place to another. The chart below, taken from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, illustrates the length of the children’s stay in foster homes:

According to the data, in 2014, 217,644 children (53%) lived in foster homes for one through 5 years. These children remained behind in school and lacked emotional stability. Emotional and educational instability are not the only elements contributing to the overfall of a child’s negative experiences. The below chart, published by National Conference of State Legislatures, illustrates the scale of mal-treatment elements confirmed by the Child Protective Services (Mbengue 2)

According to this data, 72% of foster children have experienced neglect within their foster homes. Furthermore, their disadvantages double down when they are removed from an abusive home to another harsh environment (Mbengue 2).

It is extremely important to create awareness about the plight of children who are doomed to live under these conditions. We must determine ways to create services that mitigate the impact of foster parents’ mistreatments on their psychological health and education in the future. If the status quo remains uninterrupted, these children will enter the society as adults who lack emotional stability, educational progress, and the basic life skills to lead a healthy, productive, and successful life.

Force Field Analysis

Although the issues that foster care children and the issues that CASA attempts to solve may seem black and white, this is far from the case. Several forces prevent CASA from being able to provide the most adequate services to children. The Force Field Analysis observes the forces against change and the forces for change. The ultimate goal for these foster children is to place them in homes and ensure that they have a stable adult figure to look out for their best interest and their well-being. Forces against change include a lack of volunteers and staff, inadequate support from county social service offices, and a lack of funding from the government as well as other possible sources such as corporations or donations. These forces together are preventing CASA and other stakeholders from providing the best form of service to these children. Forces for change include increased feelings of misery and helpfulness experienced by the children who are residing in foster homes. Children often experience neglect and abuse when placed in foster homes (Mbengue 2). Many foster children also lack representation and stability when they are placed in foster care, which drives a force for change. Though the forces for and against change seem simple, they involve many stakeholders and cooperation from several different agencies and organizations.

Competitor Analysis

While there are organizations that help foster youth in their development and create one-on-one mentorship such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, these organizations do not fill the gaps for foster youth who need special care and assistance in navigating the court system. CASA Alameda specifically trains and encourages volunteers to serve as youth advocates, ensuring that the volunteers are thoroughly trained to understand the methods to navigate the court system. The volunteers are specially appointed by judges to serve in the best interest of the foster youth. CASA volunteers learn how to manage interactions with families, relatives, resource families, lawyers, teachers, psychologists, and doctors; each of which are important people who play critical roles in a foster youth’s life. CASA Alameda is part of a network of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem network serving in the best interest of the youth.

Stakeholder Analysis

There is a famous African proverb which states that “It takes a village to raise a child”. While many of the foster youth that are served by CASA Alameda have been abused and neglected, the “village” that raises the youth extends beyond blood relations. In our stakeholder analysis (Appendix A), we share the various members of our society who serve in ensuring that youth in the dependency court system have the deserved opportunity to thrive and succeed in life.

In our stakeholder analysis, we share the various members of our society who serve in ensuring that the foster youth in the dependency court system have the opportunity to thrive. The key stakeholders we have identified are the Youth, CASA organizational staff, Friends of CASA Board of Directors, CASA Volunteers, Families, Resource Families, Teachers, Schools, School Districts, Social Workers, Judges, Lawyers, Congressional Members, and County Service Members.

The stakeholder with the most at stake is the youth. The decisions and resources provided by the court system have an impact on their current living situation and future success of the foster children. The foster youth have the most at stake and the most interest in the types of decisions that are made on their behalf regardless of whether they realize it or not. Despite this, they also have the lowest power both socially and politically due to their age constraints.

Other significant stakeholders include the CASA Alameda staff, the families who lack the required resources to care for the identified youth, and the Resource Families who provide safe places for the foster youth. Our stakeholders cover a wide range as many have a responsibility toward foster youth and are working with neglected foster youth in the dependency care system.

The interest for CASA volunteers is high as they are volunteering their time and resources to the organization to make a difference in the foster youth’s life. The volunteers are also committed to staying with a youth and providing stability for a minimum of one year until they are able to receive a permanent placement home. CASA volunteers have a bit more power and knowledge than the youth due to their age, experience, time, and resources. While they are in the position to make a huge impact on a foster youth’s life, they may not have the largest political power within society other than being able to vote in elections.

Alameda County CASA volunteers and foster youth rely on judges and on the East Bay Children’s Law Office (EBCLO) Lawyers to serve as partners who ensure that the foster youth are placed in permanent homes and have the appropriate resources provided to them. The judges and lawyers who accept juvenile dependency cases often go into the field due to their high interest in the subject. Since judges and lawyers are experts in the law and are the decision makers in regards to where the youth should be placed, they have the highest social power and political power.

Strategic Stakeholder Map

Social Stakeholder Map

Political Activity

In addition to CASA, numerous forms of legislation dedicated to child welfare and foster youth were brought into effect in California over the last several years. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed roughly a dozen laws that address a variety of areas pertaining to child welfare.

Regarding financial stability, Senate Bill 150 eases qualification requirements for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher, a funding program that provides up to $5000 of college financial aid to foster youth (Loudenback). Those entitled to this funding are able to obtain more of the money at the beginning of the school year in order to tackle the big costs of tuition and class materials. More often than not children and young adults are unable to attend the school of their dreams or overall pursue higher education to potentially obtain better employment opportunities because of rising costs of tuition and materials. This is especially more prevalent with foster children as they practically have no financial backbone to help them straight out of high school and scholarships are not a guarantee. SB-150 makes the opportunity of higher education far more achievable to foster children.

On a slight tangent, Assembly Bill 1068 makes child and family team meetings mandatory in regards to education-related topics. Some of the issues these meetings cover include whether a child should continue attending their current school and, should they continue to attend, discussion of potential transportation plans to reach their school and participate in extracurricular activities that take place after school (Loudenback). This is extremely critical as children, let alone those in foster care, are often unable to pursue and develop personal interests in the form of extracurricular activities due to time constraints and conflicting schedules. To ensure these topics are on the forefront and significant individuals within the foster child’s life can have a say, notes and transcripts from these child-family team meetings may be attached to court reports.

On the social side of the system, Assembly Bill 175 greatly broadens California’s current Foster Youth Bill of Rights by including the recognition of preferential sexual orientation and gender identity, allowing LGBTQ+ foster youth to declare an identity comfortably. AB-175 also gives foster youth the right to access substance abuse services and the right to refuse non-prescribed medication or chemical substances without the fear of being penalized (Loudenback). This ensures that foster youth, a group susceptible to substance abuse, obtains critically needed services and the right to choose from the offered substances. Being able to solidify your own personal identity and having the right to decline whatever may affect your body is something that is hardly considered for youth and yet is incredibly important. Apart from gaining a sense of self-worth and confidence, these children are able to gain the skill of standing up for themselves and not allowing others to dictate what ideologies they must follow or partake in actions that are well beyond their comfort zone.

Many children end up being turned over to foster care as a result of crime and other offenses committed by the parent or caregiver, regardless of the severity of the offense. Senate Bill 394 allows criminal courts to grant pre-trial diversion to defendants who have custody over children younger than the age of 18 (Loudenback). This would only be eligible for custodial parents or legal guardians who have committed misdemeanors or non-violent, non-serious felony charges. Should prosecutors and public defenders be willing, courts may offer diversion programs and other supportive services to the defendant rather than sentencing them to incarceration. Previously only available to specialty courts, those eligible can receive access to drug and alcohol treatment, mental health screenings, anger management classes, and a variety of supportive courses. This greatly encourages the provision of better accessibility to services and helps avoid a deeper involvement with the criminal justice system. While opposition to this bill claims that this favors defendants with children and negatively impacts victims, they do not consider a couple of things (Loudenback). Services are not a free get-out-of-jail card and must be completed within a given time. Failure to do so will re-open criminal cases and ensure a form of accountability. This is far better than incarcerating a guardian for potentially several years and forcing children to be taken by social workers and placed into foster homes. Court systems should focus more on how a sentence may impact others, especially children, rather than just the defendant themselves.

Numerous pieces of legislation have been passed over recent years to introduce rights and services that were critically needed and to massively update existing laws to become more relevant and counter the modern, massive challenges that plague foster youth today. They give foster children the assurance that their struggles and concerns are seen, heard, and understood and grant them a much more pronounced presence in society. A display of evidence that foster children exist and face daily obstacles brings significant awareness across all levels of society, from the random citizen to local and state governments. This alone paves the way to potential new laws, services, and funding for these foster children.


The most effective way for any organization or company to provide valuable services or products is to ensure that they have enough employees and that they care for them appropriately. If CASA ensures that its volunteers are feeling respected and cared for, then it will indirectly affect the foster children whom the volunteers are assisting. CASA must equip its employees with the proper equipment, training, and knowledge in order to most effectively benefit the foster children. CASA must also provide mutually beneficial value to employees. CASA can provide value by carefully selecting employees who seek professional experience and personal fulfillment in counseling and helping others, teaching and mentoring, and caring for the well-being of the children. The perfect place to search for this type of employee would be within college universities. The ideal candidate would be a college student seeking to build professional development in child and teen psychology, counseling, or in teaching subjects such as math, history, art, physical education, and more. CASA can leverage the opportunity for professional development for college students in return for the educational resources and skills that the students can provide to the foster children. This would be a great way to save money on educational costs while benefiting college students who can then add this type of valuable experience to a resume. In partnering with college universities, CASA can develop an internship program in which college students can receive course credits, providing further incentive. The goal of this internship program would be to help provide emotional and educational stability for the foster children. CASA can help connect foster children with interns who will mentor them, teach them, and be a listening voice as well as a positive role model.

CASA should secure additional funding and resources whether through corporate partnerships, educational partnerships, events, government funding, donations, or investments. Corporations can partner with CASA and in return they will receive the opportunity to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. CASA should focus attention on securing and maintaining partnerships with corporations and donors. For example, CASA could focus on a program with Target to support school supply donations for foster children. Another opportunity for funding would be in partnership with tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard (HP). CASA could work with HP on the creation of a program to recycle used technology that can be refurbished and provided to the foster children mainly for school use. If resources allow, then foster children could additionally use the technology for personal use. Large corporate charity events are also a great way to raise funding whether through an auction put together with donations or a fancy corporate dinner with a talent show provided by the foster children. CASA can use some of this funding to hire additional staff and push human resources into advocacy for foster children. With stronger advocacy, CASA can push for government funding and legislation on behalf of foster children. Furthermore, CASA should hire a few financial experts to designate some funding toward solid investments that can grow into a strong stream of funding.

Lastly, we suggest the restructuring and tailoring of human resources to better meet the needs of foster children. CASA strives to provide a stable adult figure in the lives of foster children. Children who are in the foster care system are constantly in and out of court meetings with social workers. Social workers in the County of Riverside have an average of 35 children on a caseload and social workers in the County of San Diego have an average of 25 children per caseload (Miller). While CASA volunteers serve as role models to foster children, social workers do not have the capacity to do so as they are overworked and overwhelmed with the number of foster children they must assist. We recommend that the number of children per caseload per social worker be decreased so that workers are able to better focus on each individual child. Although CASA volunteers can provide children with some stability, the children are often faced with the challenge of constantly switching social workers due to their age and other placement factors (Miller). By working to decrease the caseload of each case worker through advocacy and assigning social workers to children throughout their foster care journey, children would have the opportunity for another stable adult figure in their lives.

Appendix A: Stakeholder Analysis [

Link to full link to Stakeholder Analysis


Stakeholder Analysis

Are they public, private or civil society stakeholders?

Direct/ Indirect



Communication Medium



Their Power type? (Voting power, economic, political, legal, informational)

What can we achieve? ( Loyalty, Efficiency, Cooperation)






/Social Media

Whether they will have a place to go or have a potential future

Permanent and safe home; place of belonging

Informational (At their age they do not have


CASA Staff

Civil Society



Social Media/


Safe and healthy environment for youth; that youth have a support system and don’t fall between the cracks

Permanent Placement/Understanding how to navigate the court system; Financial, mental, and health support; volunteers to help youth navigate the court system

Voting Power


Friends of CASA Board of Directors




Social Media/


Whether CASA has enough funding to operate effectively; serve as the board of CASA

Funding and Resources for Youth in the foster care system



CASA Volunteers





Social Media

How to understand and meet the youth’s needs emotionally, physically, and financially

Ensuring Youth have a permanent placement; making sure that they have financial, health, and educational resources








Social Media

Whether they will be reunited with their youth? If not, whether the youth would be properly cared for

Ensuring that right resources and support if they want to be reunified with their youth



Resource Family




Personal/Social Media/Lobby

Concerned with providing a temporary safe place for the youth to stay

Funding to provide adequate resources for foster children



Teachers/Schools/ School District

Civil Society



School Meetings

Ensuring that IEPs if necessary are implented and subjects are adhered in order for student to graduate; That the students are safe both at school and at home; School staff are mandated reporters

Demand safe space for children at home

Informational; Legal


Social Workers






Assessing child’s overall wellbeing and whether or not their living conditions are sufficient/appropriate

More social workers to better serve families and youth

Legal; Informational






Court Records/


Ensuring good judgement for the placement of the youth; resources to their families; Recidivism

More resources in place to ensure that youth succeed

Political; Legal







Court Reports

Advocating on behalf of the needs of either the youth or family members

Being able to support both youth and families properly

Political; Legal; informational


Congressional Members




Press Release

Allocation and availability of funding and resources.

Making sure any support is used solely for its intended purpose

Political, Legal, InformationalEconomic, Voting


County Service Members (i.e. administrate public services- housing vouchers, food stamps, police officers, etc…)




Press Release

Are the resources they are providing meeting the needs of those they are serving; That they don’t require other social services/fall into crime

Are resources being allocated appropriately

Political, Legal, Informational, Economic, Voting


Works Cited

Pediatrics, Council On Community. “Poverty and Child Health in the United States.”

Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Apr. 2016,

CASA of Alameda County | “Every youth needs a champion.” (n.d.). Retrieved September 16,
2021, from

“California CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.” California CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, Retrieved September 17,2021.

“California CASA Impact Report 2019-2020.” California CASA- Court Appointed Special Advocates From Children, 2020.

Children, Voices For, and About Voices For Children. “Difference between a Casa and a Social Worker.” Voices for Children | A Child Heard. A Life Changed., 17 Apr. 2020,

California CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. (n.d.). California CASA An Office of the Administration for Children & Families. (n.d.). Trends in Foster Care & Adoption: FY 2010- 2019. The Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved September 16, 2021, from

AFCARS. “Trends in Foster Care & Adoption: FY 2010- 2019.”
The Administration for Children and Families, 8 Nov. 2018,

Annie E. Casey. “Data on Children in Foster Care from the Census Bureau.”
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1 June 2008,

Mbengue, Nina Williams. “The Social and Emotional Well-Being of Children in Foster Care.”
The Social and Emotional Well-Being of Children in Foster Care, National Conference of State Legislatures, 5 Sept. 2016,

Loudenback, J. (2019, October 17). California’s newest Child welfare laws signed by gov. Gavin Newsom. The Imprint. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from

Miller, B. ​​Children, Voices For, and About Voices For Children. “Difference between a Casa and a Social Worker.”
Voices for Children | A Child Heard. A Life Changed., 17 Apr. 2020,








law1541X_fm_i-xviii i 12/29/15 03:24 PM

Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy Fifteenth Edition

Anne T. Lawrence
San José State University

James Weber
Duquesne University

Business and

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Published by McGraw-Hill Education, 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121. Copyright © 2017 by McGraw-Hill
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Names: Lawrence, Anne T., author. | Weber, James (Business ethics professor),
Title: Business and society : stakeholders, ethics, public policy / Anne T.
Lawrence, San Jose State University, James Weber, Duquesne University.
Description: Fifteenth edition. | New York, NY : McGraw-Hill Education, [2017]
Identifiers: LCCN 2015044071 | ISBN 9781259315411 (alk. paper)
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System (HCPCS) Level II 2015. All names, situations, and anecdotes are fictitious. They do not represent any person, event, or medical record.

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About the Authors
Anne T. Lawrence San José State University
Anne T. Lawrence is a professor of management at San José State University. She holds
a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed two years of postdoc-
toral study at Stanford University. Her articles, cases, and reviews have appeared in many
journals, including the Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quar-
terly, Case Research Journal, Journal of Management Education, California Management
Review, Business and Society Review, Research in Corporate Social Performance and Pol-
icy, and Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Her cases in business and society have been
reprinted in many textbooks and anthologies. She has served as guest editor of the Case
Research Journal for two special issues on business ethics and human rights, and social
and environmental entrepreneurship. She served as president of both the North American
Case Research Association (NACRA) and the Western Casewriters Association and is a
Fellow of NACRA, from which she received a Distinguished Contributor Award in 2014.
She received the Emerson Center Award for Outstanding Case in Business Ethics (2004)
and the Curtis E. Tate Award for Outstanding Case of the Year (1998, 2009, and 2015).
At San José State University, she was named Outstanding Professor of the Year in 2005.
In 2015, she received a Master Teacher in Ethics Award from The Wheatley Institution at
Brigham Young University.

James Weber Duquesne University
James Weber is a professor of management and business ethics at Duquesne University.
He also serves as the executive director of the Institute for Ethics in Business and coor-
dinates the Masters of Science in Leadership and Business Ethics program at Duquesne.
He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught at the University of San
Francisco, University of Pittsburgh, and Marquette University. His areas of interest and
research include managerial and organizational values, cognitive moral reasoning, busi-
ness ethics, ethics training and education, eastern religions’ ethics, and corporate social
audit and performance. His work has appeared in Organization Science, Human Relations,
Business & Society, Journal of Business Ethics, Academy of Management Perspectives,
and Business Ethics Quarterly. He received the SIM Sumner Marcus Award for lifetime
contribution to the Social Issues in Management division of the Academy of Management
in 2013 and the Best Reviewer Award from Business & Society in 2015. He was recognized
by the Social Issues in Management division with the Best Paper Award in 1989 and 1994
and received the Best Article Award from the International Association for Business and
Society (IABS) in 1998. He has served as division and program chair of the Social Issues
in Management division of the Academy of Management. He has also served as president
and program chair of the IABS.

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In a world economy that is becoming increasingly integrated and interdependent, the rela-
tionship between business and society is becoming ever more complex. The globalization
of business, the emergence of civil society organizations in many nations, and new govern-
ment regulations and international agreements have significantly altered the job of manag-
ers and the nature of strategic decision making within the firm.
At no time has business faced greater public scrutiny or more urgent demands to act in
an ethical and socially responsible manner than at the present. Consider the following:

∙ The global financial crisis—highlighted by the failure of major business firms and
unprecedented intervention in the economy by many governments—and its continuing
aftermath as societies have struggled to recover have focused a fresh spotlight on issues
of corporate responsibility and ethics. Around the world, people and governments are
demanding that executives do a better job of serving shareholders and the public. Once
again, policymakers are actively debating the proper scope of government oversight in
such wide-ranging arenas as health care, financial services, and manufacturing. Man-
agement educators are placing renewed emphasis on issues of business leadership and

∙ A host of new technologies have become part of the everyday lives of billions of the
world’s people. Advances in the basic sciences are stimulating extraordinary changes
in agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals, which have the potential to
enhance peoples’ health and quality of life. Technology has changed how we interact
with others, bringing people closer together through social networking, instant messag-
ing, and photo and video sharing. These innovations hold great promise. But they also
raise serious ethical issues, such as those associated with genetically modified foods,
stem cell research, or use of the Internet to exploit or defraud others, censor free expres-
sion, or invade individuals’ privacy. Businesses must learn to harness new technolo-
gies, while avoiding public controversy and remaining sensitive to the concerns of their
many stakeholders.

∙ Businesses in the United States and other nations are transforming the employment rela-
tionship, abandoning practices that once provided job security and guaranteed pensions
in favor of highly flexible but less secure forms of employment. The Great Recession
caused job losses across broad sectors of the economy in the United States and many
other nations. Many jobs, including those in the service sector, are being outsourced to
the emerging economies of China, India, and other nations. As jobs shift abroad, trans-
national corporations are challenged to address their obligations to workers in far-flung
locations with very different cultures and to respond to initiatives, like the Bangladesh
Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which call for voluntary commitment to enlight-
ened labor standards and human rights.

∙ Ecological and environmental problems have forced businesses and governments to take
action. An emerging consensus about the risks of climate change, for example, is lead-
ing many companies to adopt new practices, and the nations of the world have recently
adopted a groundbreaking agreement designed to limit the emissions of greenhouse
gases. Many businesses have cut air pollution, curbed solid waste, and designed prod-
ucts and buildings to be more energy-efficient. A better understanding of how human

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Preface v

law1541X_fm_i-xviii v 12/29/15 03:24 PM

activities affect natural resources is producing a growing understanding that economic
growth must be achieved in balance with environmental protection if development is to
be sustainable.

∙ Many regions of the world and their nations are developing at an extraordinary rate.
Yet, the prosperity that accompanies economic growth is not shared equally. Access to
health care and education remain unevenly distributed among and within the world’s
nations, and inequalities of wealth and income have become greater than they have been
in many years. These trends have challenged businesses to consider the impact of their
compensation, recruitment, and professional development practices on the persistent—
and in some cases, growing—gap between the haves and the have-nots.

∙ The tragic epidemic of Ebola in West Africa, as well as the continuing pandemic of
AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the threat of a swine or avian flu outbreak have com-
pelled drug makers to rethink their pricing policies and raised troubling questions about
the commitment of world trade organizations to patent protection. Many businesses
must consider the delicate balance between their intellectual property rights and the
urgent demands of public health, particularly in the developing world.

∙ In many nations, legislators have questioned business’s influence on politics. Business
has a legitimate role to play in the public policy process, but it has on occasion shaded
over into undue influence and even corruption. In the United States, recent court deci-
sions have changed the rules of the game governing how corporations and individuals
can contribute to and influence political parties and public officials. Technology offers
candidates and political parties new ways to reach out and inform potential voters. Busi-
nesses the world over are challenged to determine their legitimate scope of influence
and how to voice their interests most effectively in the public policy process.

The new Fifteenth Edition of Business and Society addresses this complex agenda of
issues and their impact on business and its stakeholders. It is designed to be the required
textbook in an undergraduate or graduate course in Business and Society; Business, Gov-
ernment, and Society; Social Issues in Management; or the Environment of Business. It
may also be used, in whole or in part, in courses in Business Ethics and Public Affairs
Management. This new edition of the text is also appropriate for an undergraduate sociol-
ogy course that focuses on the role of business in society or on contemporary issues in
The core argument of Business and Society is that corporations serve a broad public
purpose: to create value for society. All companies must make a profit for their owners.
Indeed, if they did not, they would not long survive. However, corporations create many
other kinds of value as well. They are responsible for professional development for their
employees, innovative new products for their customers, and generosity to their communi-
ties. They must partner with a wide range of individuals and groups in society to advance
collaborative goals. In our view, corporations have multiple obligations, and all stakehold-
ers’ interests must be taken into account.

A Tradition of Excellence

Since the 1960s, when Professors Keith Davis and Robert Blomstrom wrote the first edi-
tion of this book, Business and Society has maintained a position of leadership by discuss-
ing central issues of corporate social performance in a form that students and faculty have
found engaging and stimulating. The leadership of the two founding authors, and later of

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vi Preface

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Professors William C. Frederick and James E. Post, helped Business and Society to achieve
a consistently high standard of quality and market acceptance. Thanks to these authors’
remarkable eye for the emerging issues that shape the organizational, social, and public
policy environments in which students will soon live and work, the book has added value
to the business education of many thousands of students.
Business and Society has continued through several successive author teams to be the
market leader in its field. The current authors bring a broad background of business and
society research, teaching, consulting, and case development to the ongoing evolution of
the text. The new Fifteenth Edition of Business and Society builds on its legacy of market
leadership by reexamining such central issues as the role of business in society, the nature
of corporate responsibility and global citizenship, business ethics practices, and the com-
plex roles of government and business in a global community.

For Instructors

For instructors, this textbook offers a complete set of supplements.
Continually evolving, McGraw-Hill Connect® has been redesigned to provide the only
true adaptive learning experience delivered within a simple and easy-to-navigate environ-
ment, placing students at the very center.

∙ Performance Analytics—Now available for both instructors and students, easy-to-
decipher data illuminates course performance. Students always know how they are
doing in class, while instructors can view student and section performance at-a-glance.

∙ Personalized Learning—Squeezing the most out of study time, the adaptive engine
within Connect creates a highly personalized learning path for each student by identify-
ing areas of weakness and providing learning resources to assist in the moment of need.

This seamless integration of reading, practice, and assessment ensures that the focus is
on the most important content for that individual.

Instructor Library
The Connect Management Instructor Library is a repository for additional resources to
improve student engagement in and out of class. The instructor can select and use any
asset that enhances his or her lecture. The Connect Instructor Library includes an exten-
sive instructor’s resource manual—fully revised for this edition—with lecture outlines,
discussion case questions and answers, tips from experienced instructors, and extensive
case teaching notes. A computerized test bank and power point slides for every chapter are
also provided.

Manager’s Hot Seat
Now instructors can put students in the hot seat with access to an interactive program.
Students watch real managers apply their years of experience when confronting unscripted
issues. As the scenario unfolds, questions about how the manager is handling the situation
pop up, forcing the student to make decisions along with the manager. At the end of the
scenario, students watch a postinterview with the manager and view how their responses
matched up to the manager’s decisions. The Manager’s Hot Seat videos are now available
as assignments in Connect.

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Preface vii

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With McGraw-Hill Create,, the instructor can easily rear-
range chapters, combine material from other content sources, and quickly upload self-
developed content such as a course syllabus or teaching notes. Content may be drawn
from any of the thousands of leading McGraw-Hill textbooks and arranged to fit a partic-
ular class or teaching approach. Create even allows an instructor to personalize the book’s
appearance by selecting the cover and adding the instructor’s name, school, and course
information and to select a print or eBook format.

For Students

Business and Society has long been popular with students because of its lively writing,
up-to-date examples, and clear explanations of theory. This textbook has benefited greatly
from feedback over the years from thousands of students who have used the material in the
authors’ own classrooms. Its strengths are in many ways a testimony to the students who
have used earlier generations of Business and Society.
The new Fifteenth Edition of the text is designed to be as student-friendly as always.
Each chapter opens with a list of key learning objectives to help focus student reading and
study. Numerous figures, exhibits, and real-world business examples (set as blocks of col-
ored type) illustrate and elaborate the main points. A glossary at the end of the book pro-
vides definitions for bold-faced and other important terms. Internet references and a full
section-by-section bibliography guide students who wish to do further research on topics
of their choice, and subject and name indexes help students locate items in the book.

The Fifteenth Edition of Business and Society is available with LearnSmart, the most
widely used adaptive learning resource, which is proven to improve grades. (To find out
more about LearnSmart, go to McGraw-Hill Connect® By
helping students focus on the most important information they need to learn, LearnSmart
personalizes the learning experience so they can study as efficiently as possible.

An extension of LearnSmart, SmartBook is an adaptive eBook that helps students focus
their study time more effectively. As students read, SmartBook assesses comprehension
and dynamically highlights where they need to study more.

New for the Fifteenth Edition

Over the years, the issues addressed by Business and Society have changed as the envi-
ronment of business itself has been transformed. This Fifteenth Edition is no exception,
as readers will discover. Some issues have become less compelling and others have taken
their place on the business agenda, while others endure through the years.
The Fifteenth Edition has been thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the latest the-
oretical work in the field and the latest statistical data, as well as recent events. Among the
new additions are:

∙ An all-new chapter for this edition on business and its suppliers, incorporating the latest
thinking about social, ethical, and environmental responsibility in global supply chains.

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viii Preface

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∙ New discussion of theoretical advances in stakeholder theory, corporate citizenship,
public affairs management, public and private regulation, corporate governance, social
and environmental auditing, social investing, reputation management, business partner-
ships, and corporate philanthropy.

∙ Treatment of practical issues, such as social networking, digital medical records, bot-
tom of the pyramid, gender diversity, political advertising and campaign contributions,
as well as the latest developments in the regulatory environment in which businesses
operate, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act.

∙ New discussion cases and full-length cases on such timely topics as worker safety in the
garment industry in Bangladesh; the ignition switch recalls by General Motors; Google
and the “right to be forgotten”; Uber’s responsibilities toward its drivers, customers,
and communities; the decision to raise wages at Gravity Payments; the regulation of
e-cigarettes; security breaches that compromised customers’ information at Target and
other companies; the hacking of Sony Pictures’ servers; the environmental impact of
hydraulic fracturing; shareholder proxy access at Whole Foods; the sale of chemically
tainted flooring by Lumber Liquidators; substandard wages and working conditions at
nail salons; and JPMorgan Chase’s reputational challenges.

Finally, this is a book with a vision. It is not simply a compendium of information
and ideas. The new edition of Business and Society articulates the view that in a global
community, where traditional buffers no longer protect business from external change,
managers can create strategies that integrate stakeholder interests, respect personal values,
support community development, and are implemented fairly. Most important, businesses
can achieve these goals while also being economically successful. Indeed, this may be the
only way to achieve economic success over the long term.

Anne T. Lawrence

James Weber

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We are grateful for the assistance of many colleagues at universities in the United States
and abroad who over the years have helped shape this book with their excellent suggestions
and ideas. We also note the feedback from students in our classes and at other colleges and
universities that has helped make this book as user-friendly as possible.
We especially wish to thank three esteemed colleagues who made special contributions
to this edition. Cynthia E. Clark, founder and director of the Harold S. Geneen Institute
of Corporate Governance and director of the Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility
at Bentley University, generously shared with us her expertise on corporate reputation,
governance, and media relations. She provided new material for and helped reorganize
Chapter 19, which has greatly benefited from her insights. She also advised us on the revi-
sions of Chapter 3 and contributed the case, “Google and the Right to Be Forgotten.” Anke
Arnaud of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University provided research support for the two
environmental chapters (Chapters 9 and 10), drawing on her extensive knowledge of the
sustainability literature. An expert in pedagogy, she also prepared the PowerPoint slides
that accompany the text. Harry J. Van Buren III of the University of New Mexico shared
his expertise on technology and society and provided in-depth suggestions on how best to
reorganize the two technology chapters (Chapters 11 and 12), which have been extensively
revised for this edition. For all of these contributions, we are most grateful.
We also wish to express our appreciation for the colleagues who provided detailed reviews
for this edition. These reviewers were Heather Elms of the Kogod School of Business at
American University; Joseph A. Petrick of Wright State University; Kathleen Rehbein of
Marquette University; Judith Schrempf-Stirling of the Robins School of Business at the
University of Richmond; and Caterina Tantalo of San Francisco State University.
In addition, we are grateful to the many colleagues who over the years have generously
shared with us their insights into the theory and pedagogy of business and society. In par-
ticular, we would like to thank Shawn Berman of University of New Mexico; Jennifer J.
Griffin of George Washington University; Ronald M. Roman, Asbjorn Osland, and Marc-
Charles Ingerson of San José State University; Bernie Hayen of Kansas State University;
Cynthia M. Orms of Georgia College & State University; Alexia Priest of Post University;
Sandra Waddock of Boston College; Mary C. Gentile of Giving Voice to Values; Margaret
J. Naumes of the University of New Hampshire (retired); Michael E. Johnson-Cramer and
Jamie Hendry of Bucknell University; John Mahon and Stephanie Welcomer of the Univer-
sity of Maine; Bradley Agle of Brigham Young University; Ann Svendsen of Simon Fraser
University (retired); Robert Boutilier of Robert Boutilier & Associates; Kathryn S. Rogers
of Pitzer College (retired); Anne Forrestel of the University of Oregon; Kelly Strong of Col-
orado State University; Daniel Gilbert of Gettysburg College; William Sodeman of Hawaii
Pacific University; Gina Vega of Merrimack College; Craig Dunn and Brian Burton of West-
ern Washington University; Lori V. Ryan of San Diego State University; Bryan W. Husted
of York University; Sharon Livesey of Fordham University; Barry Mitnick of the Univer-
sity of Pittsburgh; Virginia Gerde, Matthew Drake, and David Wasieleski of Duquesne
University; Robbin Derry of the University of Lethbridge; Linda Ginzel of the University of
Chicago; Jerry Calton of the University of Hawaii–Hilo; Anthony J. Daboub of the Univer-
sity of Texas at Brownsville; Linda Klebe Treviño of Pennsylvania State University; Mary

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x Acknowledgments

Meisenhelter of York College of Pennsylvania; Stephen Payne of Georgia College and State
University; Amy Hillman and Gerald Keim of Arizona State University; Jeanne Logsdon of
the University of New Mexico (retired); Barbara Altman of Texas A&M University Central
Texas; Craig Fleisher of the College of Coastal Georgia; Karen Moustafa Leonard of Indi-
ana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne; Deborah Vidaver-Cohen of Florida Interna-
tional University; Lynda Brown of the University of Montana; Kathleen A. Getz of Loyola
University–Maryland; Gordon P. Rands of Western Illinois University; Paul S. Adler of the
University of Southern California; Diana Sharpe of Monmouth University; Pierre Batellier
and Emmanuel Raufflet of HEC Montreal; Bruce Paton, Tom E. Thomas, Denise Klein-
richert, Geoffrey Desa, and Peter Melhus of San Francisco State University; Jacob Park of
Green Mountain College; Armand Gilinsky of Sonoma State University; Tara Ceranic of
the University of San Diego; and Diane Swanson of Kansas State University.
These scholars’ dedication to the creative teaching of business and society has been a
continuing inspiration to us.
Thanks are also due to Murray Silverman of San Francisco State University; Robyn
Linde of Rhode Island College and H. Richard Eisenbeis of the University of Southern
Colorado Pueblo (retired); Steven M. Cox, Bradley W. Brooks, S. Cathy Anderson, and
J. Norris Frederick of Queens University of Charlotte; and Debra M. Staab, a freelance
writer and researcher, who contributed cases to this edition.
A number of individuals have made research contributions to this project for which we
are appreciative. Among the special contributors to this edition were Patricia Morrison
of Grossmont College and Caitlin Merritt and Clare Lamperski of Duquesne University,
who provided research assistance, and Debra M. Staab, who both provided research and
assisted in preparing the instructor’s resource manual and ancillary materials. Thanks are
also due to Carolyn Roose, Nate Marsh, and Benjamin Eagle for research support. Emily
Marsh, of The Sketchy Pixel, provided graphic design services.
We wish to express our continuing appreciation to William C. Frederick, who invited
us into this project many years ago and who has continued to provide warm support and
sage advice as the book has evolved through numerous editions. James E. Post, another
former author of this book, has also continued to offer valuable intellectual guidance to
this project.
We continue to be grateful to the excellent editorial and production team at McGraw-Hill.
We offer special thanks to Laura Hurst Spell, our sponsoring editor, for her skillful leader-
ship of this project. We also wish to recognize the able assistance of Diana Murphy, develop-
ment editor, and MaryJane Lampe and Ligo Alex, project managers, whose ability to keep
us on track and on time has been critical. Casey Keske headed the excellent marketing team.
Keri Johnson, media project manager; Susan K. Culbertson, buyer; Richard Wright, copy
editor; and Studio Montage, who designed the book cover, also played key roles. Each of
these people has provided professional contributions that we deeply value and appreciate.
As always, we are profoundly grateful for the ongoing support of our spouses, Paul
Roose and Sharon Green.

Anne T. Lawrence

James Weber

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Brief Contents
Business in Society 1
1. The Corporation and Its Stakeholders 2
2. Managing Public Issues and Stakeholder

Relationships 24
3. Corporate Social Responsibility and

Citizenship 45
4. Business in a Globalized World 70

Business and Ethics 91
5. Ethics and Ethical Reasoning 92
6. Organizational Ethics 113

Business and Public Policy 133
7. Business–Government Relations 134
8. Influencing the Political

Environment 157

Business and the Natural
Environment 181
9. Sustainable Development and Global

Business 182
10. Managing for Sustainability 205

Business and Technology 231
11. The Role of Technology 232
12. Regulating and Managing Information

Technology 256

Business and Its Stakeholders 277
13. Shareholder Rights and Corporate

Governance 278

14. Consumer Protection 302
15. Employees and the Corporation 325
16. Managing a Diverse Workforce 347
17. Business and Its Suppliers 371
18. The Community and the

Corporation 394
19. The Public and Corporate

Reputation 417

1. After Rana Plaza 440
2. Google and the Right to Be

Forgotten 451
3. General Motors and the Ignition Switch

Recalls 461
4. Sustainability at Holland America

Line 471
5. The Carlson Company and

Protecting Children in the Global
Tourism Industry 480

6. Ventria Bioscience and the Controversy
over Plant-Made Medicines 489

7. Moody’s Credit Ratings and the
Subprime Mortgage Meltdown 500

8. The Upper Big Branch Mine
Disaster 513

9. Carolina Pad and the Bloggers 523



Name 554
Subject 558


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The Corporation and Its Stakeholders 2
Business and Society 4

A Systems Perspective 4

The Stakeholder Theory of the Firm 5
The Stakeholder Concept 7

Different Kinds of Stakeholders 8

Stakeholder Analysis 10
Stakeholder Interests 12

Stakeholder Power 12

Stakeholder Coalitions 14

Stakeholder Salience and Mapping 15

The Corporation’s Boundary-Spanning
Departments 18
The Dynamic Environment of Business 19

Creating Value in a Dynamic Environment 21

Summary 21
Key Terms 22
Internet Resources 22
Discussion Case: Insuring Uber’s App-On Gap 22

Managing Public Issues and Stakeholder
Relationships 24
Public Issues 25
Environmental Analysis 27

Competitive Intelligence 29

Stakeholder Materiality 30

The Issue Management Process 31

Identify Issue 32

Analyze Issue 33

Generate Options 33

Take Action 34

Evaluate Results 34

Organizing for Effective Issue Management 35
Stakeholder Engagement 36

Stages in the Business–Stakeholder Relationship 36

Drivers of Stakeholder Engagement 38

The Role of Social Media in Stakeholder

Engagement 39

Stakeholder Dialogue 40
Stakeholder Networks 40

The Benefits of Engagement 41

Summary 42
Key Terms 42
Internet Resources 42
Discussion Case: Coca-Cola’s Water Neutrality
Initiative 43

Corporate Social Responsibility
and Citizenship 45
Corporate Power and Responsibility 47
Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship 48

The Origins of Corporate Social Responsibility 49

Balancing Social, Economic, and Legal
Responsibilities 52
The Corporate Social Responsibility Debate 52

Arguments for Corporate Social Responsibility 52

Arguments against Corporate Social

Responsibility 56

Management Systems for Corporate Social
Responsibility and Citizenship 58
Stages of Corporate Citizenship 60
Assessing and Reporting Social Performance 63

Social Audit Standards 63

Social Reporting 64

Summary 66
Key Terms 66
Internet Resources 67
Discussion Case: Corporate Social Responsibility
at Gravity Payments 67

Business in a Globalized World 70
The Process of Globalization 71

Major Transnational Corporations 72

International Financial and Trade Institutions 73

The Benefits and Costs of Globalization 76
Benefits of Globalization 76

Costs of Globalization 77

Doing Business in a Diverse World 79
Comparative Political and Economic Systems 80


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Other Functional Areas 120

Making Ethics Work in Corporations 121
Building Ethical Safeguards into the Company 121

Corporate Ethics Awards and Certifications 126

Ethics in a Global Economy 127
Efforts to Curtail Unethical Practices 128

Summary 130
Key Terms 130
Internet Resources 130
Discussion Case: Alcoa’s Core Values in
Practice 131


Business–Government Relations 134
How Business and Government Relate 135

Seeking a Collaborative Partnership 136

Working in Opposition to Government 136

Legitimacy Issues 137

Government’s Public Policy Role 137
Elements of Public Policy 138

Types of Public Policy 140

Government Regulation of Business 142
Market Failure 142

Negative Externalities 142

Natural Monopolies 143

Ethical Arguments 143

Types of Regulation 143

The Effects of Regulation 147

Regulation in a Global Context 152
Summary 153
Key Terms 154
Internet Resources 154
Discussion Case: Should E-Cigarettes Be
Regulated? 154

Influencing the Political Environment 157
Participants in the Political Environment 158

Business as a Political Participant 159

Influencing the Business–Government
Relationship 160

Corporate Political Strategy 160

Political Action Tactics 161
Promoting an Information Strategy 161

Global Inequality and the Bottom of the Pyramid 83

Collaborative Partnerships for Global Problem
Solving 85

A Three-Sector World 85

Summary 87
Key Terms 87
Internet Resources 87
Discussion Case: Intel and Conflict Minerals 88


Ethics and Ethical Reasoning 92
The Meaning of Ethics 93

What Is Business Ethics? 94

Why Should Business Be Ethical? 95

Why Ethical Problems Occur in Business 99
Personal Gain and Selfish Interest 99

Competitive Pressures on Profits 100

Conflicts of Interest 100

Cross-Cultural Contradictions 101

The Core Elements of Ethical Character 102
Managers’ Values 102

Spirituality in the Workplace 103

Managers’ Moral Development 104

Analyzing Ethical Problems in Business 106
Virtue Ethics: Pursuing a “Good” Life 106

Utility: Comparing Benefits and Costs 107

Rights: Determining and Protecting Entitlements 108

Justice: Is It Fair? 109

Applying Ethical Reasoning to Business Activities 109

Summary 110
Key Terms 111
Internet Resources 111
Discussion Case: Chiquita Brands: Ethical
Responsibility or Illegal Action? 111

Organizational Ethics 113
Corporate Ethical Climates 114
Business Ethics across Organizational
Functions 116

Accounting Ethics 116

Financial Ethics 116

Marketing Ethics 118

Information Technology Ethics 120

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Promoting a Financial-Incentive Strategy 165

Promoting a Constituency-Building Strategy 170

Levels of Political Involvement 173
Managing the Political Environment 174
Business Political Action: A Global Challenge 175
Summary 177
Key Terms 177
Internet Resources 178
Discussion Case: Stop Online Piracy Act—A
Political Battle between Old and New Media 178


Sustainable Development and Global
Business 182
Business and Society in the Natural
Environment 184

Sustainable Development 185

Threats to the Earth’s Ecosystem 185

Forces of Change 186

The Earth’s Carrying Capacity 189

Global Environmental Issues 191
Climate Change 191

Ozone Depletion 194

Resource Scarcity: Water and Land 194

Decline of Biodiversity 196

Threats to Marine Ecosystems 197

Response of the International Business
Community 198

Codes of Environmental Conduct 200

Summary 202
Key Terms 202
Internet Resources 202
Discussion Case: Clean Cooking 203

Managing for Sustainability 205
Role of Government 207

Major Areas of Environmental Regulation 207

Alternative Policy Approaches 212

Costs and Benefits of Environmental
Regulation 216
Managing for Sustainability 218

Stages of Corporate Environmental Responsibility 218

The Ecologically Sustainable Organization 219
Sustainability Management in Practice 219

Environmental Auditing and Reporting 221

Environmental Partnerships 222

Sustainability Management as a Competitive
Advantage 222

Cost Savings 223

Brand Differentiation 224

Technological Innovation 224

Reduction of Regulatory and Liability Risk 225

Strategic Planning 225

Summary 227
Key Terms 227
Internet Resources 227
Discussion Case: Hydraulic Fracturing—Can the
Environmental Impacts Be Reduced? 228


The Role of Technology 232
Technology Defined 233

Phases of Technology in Society 234

Fueling Technological Growth 235

The Role of Technology in Society 236
The Internet 236

The Digital Divide in the United States
and Worldwide 239

Mobile Telephones 240

Social Networking 241

The Impact of Scientific Breakthroughs 242
Genetically Engineered Foods 242

Sequencing of the Human Genome 244

Biotechnology and Stem Cell Research 245

The Role of Technology in Business 246
E-Business 247

Transforming Prevailing Business Models 247

The Use of Robotics at Work 248

Ethical Challenges Involving Technology 250
The Loss of Privacy 250

Free Speech Issues 251

Summary 252
Key Terms 252
Internet Resources 252
Discussion Case: How Safe Is Your Personal
Information? 252

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Regulating and Managing Information
Technology 256
Information Technology Challenges for Governments
and Businesses 258
Government Interventions of Information
and Ideas 259

Government Internet Censorship and Control 259

Government Acquisition of Information to Protect the

Public Good 261

Government Protecting Individuals’ Rights and

Property 262

Business Access to and Use of Confidential
Information 263

Access to Stakeholders’ Personal Information 263

Special Issue: Cybercrime—A Threat
to Organizations and the Public 265

Costs of Cybercrime 266

Exploring Why Hackers Hack 267

Business Responses to Invasions of Information
Security 269

The Chief Information, Security,

Technology Officer 271

Government Efforts to Combat Cybercrime 272
Summary 273
Key Terms 274
Internet Resources 274
Discussion Case: Sony Pictures and North Korean
Hackers 274


Shareholder Rights and Corporate
Governance 278
Shareholders around the World 279

Who Are Shareholders? 280

Objectives of Stock Ownership 282

Shareholders’ Legal Rights and Safeguards 282

Corporate Governance 283
The Board of Directors 283

Principles of Good Governance 285

Special Issue: Executive Compensation 287
Shareholder Activism 291

The Rise of Institutional Investors 292

Social Investment 293

Shareholder Lawsuits 294

Government Protection of Shareholder
Interests 295

Securities and Exchange Commission 295

Information Transparency and Disclosure 295

Insider Trading 296

Shareholders and the Corporation 298
Summary 298
Key Terms 299
Internet Resources 299
Discussion Case: Whole Foods Adopts Egalitarian
Compensation Policies—But Fights Back on Board
Elections 299

Consumer Protection 302
The Rights of Consumers 304
Self-Advocacy for Consumer Interests 304

Reasons for the Consumer Movement 306

How Government Protects Consumers 307
Goals of Consumer Laws 307

Major Consumer Protection Agencies 309

Special Issue: Consumer Privacy in the
Digital Age 312
Using the Courts and Product Liability Laws 315

Strict Liability 315

Product Liability Reform and Alternative Dispute

Resolution 317

Positive Business Responses to Consumerism 318
Managing for Quality 318

Voluntary Industry Codes of Conduct 320

Consumer Affairs Departments 320

Product Recalls 320

Consumerism’s Achievements 321
Summary 322
Key Terms 322
Internet Resources 322
Discussion Case: Lumber Liquidators’ Laminate
Flooring 322

Employees and the Corporation 325
The Employment Relationship 327
Workplace Rights 327

The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 328

The Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace 329

The Right to a Secure Job 332

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xvi Contents

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Special Issue: Wages and Income Inequality 335
Privacy in the Workplace 336

Electronic Monitoring 337

Romance in the Workplace 338

Employee Drug Use and Testing 339

Alcohol Abuse at Work 340

Employee Theft and Honesty Testing 341

Whistle-Blowing and Free Speech in the
Workplace 341
Employees as Corporate Stakeholders 343
Summary 344
Key Terms 344
Internet Resources 344
Discussion Case: The Ugly Side of Beautiful
Nails 344

Managing a Diverse Workforce 347
The Changing Face of the Workforce 348
Gender and Race in the Workplace 350

Women and Minorities at Work 350

The Gender and Racial Pay Gap 351

Where Women and Persons of Color Manage 353

Breaking the Glass Ceiling 354

Women and Minority Business Ownership 357

Government’s Role in Securing Equal Employment
Opportunity 357

Equal Employment Opportunity 357

Affirmative Action 359

Sexual and Racial Harassment 359

What Business Can Do: Diversity and Inclusion
Policies and Practices 361

Balancing Work and Life 364

Child Care and Elder Care 364

Work Flexibility 365

Summary 367
Key Terms 368
Internet Resources 368
Discussion Case: Unauthorized Immigrant Workers
at Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants 368

Business and Its Suppliers 371
Suppliers 373
Social, Ethical, and Environmental Issues in Global
Supply Chains 376

Social Issues 376

Ethical Issues 377

Environmental Issues 379

Supply Chain Risk 380

Private Regulation of the Business–Supplier
Relationship 381

Supply Chain Auditing 384

Supplier Development and Capability Building 387
Summary 391
Key Terms 391
Internet Resources 391
Discussion Case: Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct
and Foxconn’s Chinese Factories 392

The Community and the Corporation 394
The Business–Community Relationship 396

The Business Case for Community Involvement 397

Community Relations 399
Economic Development 400

Housing 400

Aid to Minority, Women, and Disabled Veteran-Owned

Enterprises 400

Disaster, Terrorism, and War Relief 401

Corporate Giving 402
Forms of Corporate Giving 405

Priorities in Corporate Giving 407

Corporate Giving in a Strategic Context 408

Measuring the Return on Social Investment 410

Building Collaborative Partnerships 411
Summary 413
Key Terms 414
Internet Resources 414
Discussion Case: Fidelity Investments’ Partnership
with Citizen Schools 414

The Public and Corporate Reputation 417
The General Public 419
What Is Reputation? 419

Why Does Reputation Matter? 421

The Public Relations Department 422
Using Technology-Enhanced Channels for Public

Relations 423

Brand Management 424
Crisis Management 425
Engaging Key Stakeholders with Specific
Tactics 428

Executive Visibility 428

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User-Generated Content 430

Paid Content 431

Event Sponsorship 432

Public Service Announcements 433

Image Advertisements 433

Summary 435
Key Terms 435
Internet Resources 435
Discussion Case: JPMorgan Chase’s #AskJPM 436

1. After Rana Plaza 440

2. Google and the Right to Be
Forgotten 451

3. General Motors and the Ignition Switch
Recalls 461

4. Sustainability at Holland America
Line 471

5. The Carlson Company and
Protecting Children in the Global
Tourism Industry 480

6. Ventria Bioscience and the Controversy
over Plant-Made Medicines 489

7. Moody’s Credit Ratings and the
Subprime Mortgage Meltdown 500

8. The Upper Big Branch Mine
Disaster 513

9. Carolina Pad and the Bloggers 523

Glossary 536
Bibliography 549
Name 554
Subject 558

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Business in Society

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The Corporation
and Its Stakeholders
Business corporations have complex relationships with many individuals and organizations in society.
The term stakeholder refers to all those that affect, or are affected by, the actions of the firm. An
important part of management’s role is to identify a firm’s relevant stakeholders and understand the
nature of their interests, power, and alliances with one another. Building positive and mutually ben-
eficial relationships across organizational boundaries can help enhance a company’s reputation and
address critical social and ethical challenges. In a world of fast-paced globalization, shifting public
expectations and government policies, growing ecological concerns, and new technologies, manag-
ers face the difficult challenge of achieving economic results while simultaneously creating value for
all of their diverse stakeholders.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 1-1 Understanding the relationship between business and society and the ways in which business and
society are part of an interactive system.

LO 1-2 Considering the purpose of the modern corporation.

LO 1-3 Knowing what a stakeholder is and who a corporation’s market and nonmarket and internal and
external stakeholders are.

LO 1-4 Conducting a stakeholder analysis and understanding the basis of stakeholder interests and power.

LO 1-5 Recognizing the diverse ways in which modern corporations organize internally to interact with
various stakeholders.

LO 1-6 Analyzing the forces of change that continually reshape the business and society relationship.

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Chapter 1 The Corporation and Its Stakeholders 3

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Walmart has been called “a template for 21st century capitalism.” In each period of history,
because of its size and potential impact on many groups in society, a single company often
seems to best exemplify the management systems, technology, and social relationships of
its era. In 1990, this company was U.S. Steel. In 1950, it was General Motors. Now, in the
2010s, it is Walmart.1

In 2015, Walmart was the largest private employer in the world, with 2.2 million employ-
ees worldwide. The company operated more than 11,000 facilities in 27 countries and had
annual sales of $473 billion. The retailer was enormously popular with customers, drawing
them in with its great variety of products under one roof and “save money, live better” slo-
gan; 250 million customers worldwide shopped there every week. Economists estimated
that Walmart had directly through its own actions and indirectly through its impact on its
supply chain saved American shoppers $287 billion annually, about $957 for every person
in the United States.2 Shareholders who invested early were richly rewarded; the share price
rose from 5 cents (split adjusted) when the company went public in 1970 to around $90
a share in early 2015, its all-time high. Walmart was a major customer for tens of thousands
of suppliers worldwide, ranging from huge multinationals to tiny one-person operations.

Yet, Walmart had become a lightning rod for criticism from many quarters, charged
with corruption; driving down wages, benefits, and working conditions; and hurting local
communities. Consider that:
∙ On the Friday after Thanksgiving 2014—so-called Black Friday—thousands of pro-

testers rallied at 1,600 Walmart stores across the United States, calling on the retailer
to raise its workers’ pay to at least $15 an hour and offer more of them full-time work
and predictable schedules. Said one part-time cashier, “It is very hard on what I earn.
Right now I’m on food stamps and applying for medical assistance.” A month earlier,
the company had announced it would no longer provide health insurance to associates
working less than 30 hours a week.3

∙ In 2012, the company confronted shocking charges that it had conducted a “campaign
of bribery” to facilitate its rapid growth in Mexico. According to an investigation by
The New York Times, Walmart had made $24 million in payments to government officials
to clear the way for hundreds of new stores in what became the company’s most important
foreign subsidiary, in probable violation of both U.S. and Mexican law. Two years later, the
company had spent more than $400 million to investigate the bribery allegations, and faced
numerous lawsuits from irate shareholders and an ongoing U.S. government investigation.4

∙ In 2013, local activists protested the opening of a Walmart neighborhood market in Los
Angeles’s Chinatown, carrying large puppets dressed as the ghosts of small businesses.
It was the latest of many incidents in which communities resisted the arrival of the retail
giant, saying it would hurt local shopkeepers.5 Economists studying Walmart’s impact
in Chicago, for example, found that about one-quarter of neighborhood retailers near a
new Walmart had gone out of business, causing a loss of 300 jobs.6

In a continuing effort to improve its social performance, Walmart offered grants to
small businesses, donated to wildlife habitat restoration, and announced a plan to lower

4 “Wal-Mart Hushed Up a Vast Mexican Bribery Case,” The New York Times, April 21, 2012; “After Bribery Scandal, High-Level
Departures at Walmart,” The New York Times, June 4, 2014.

3 “Wal-Mart Cutting Health Benefits to Some Part-Time Employees,” Bloomberg, October 7, 2014, and “On Black Friday,
Walmart Is Pressed for Wage Increases,” The New York Times, November 28, 2014.

2 Global Insight, “The Price Impact of Wal-Mart: An Update through 2006,” September 4, 2007.

1 Nelson Lichtenstein, “Wal-Mart: A Template for Twenty-First Century Capitalism,” in Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First
Century Capitalism, ed. Nelson Lichtenstein (New York: The New Press, 2006), pp. 3–30.

6 Julie Davis et al., “The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighbor-
hood’s Experience,” Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago, December 2009.

5 “Walmart in LA’s Chinatown Has Opened, Despite Major Protest,” September 13, 2013,

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the salt, fat, and sugar in many of its packaged foods. The company strengthened its ethics
and compliance program. It also pursued ambitious environmental goals to reduce waste,
use more renewable energy, and sell more sustainable products, and began reporting to the
public on its progress.7 “Reputation is very important to Wal-Mart,” said a historian who
had studied the company. “They put a lot of money into building it.”8

Walmart’s experience illustrates, on a particularly large scale, the challenges of man-
aging successfully in a complex global network of stakeholders. The company’s actions
affected not only itself, but also many other people, groups, and organizations in society.
Customers, suppliers, employees, stockholders, creditors, business partners, governments,
and local communities all had a stake in Walmart’s decisions. Walmart had to learn just
how difficult it could be to simultaneously satisfy multiple stakeholders with diverse and,
in some respects, contradictory interests.

Every modern company, whether small or large, is part of a vast global business system.
Whether a firm has 50 employees or 50,000—or, like Walmart, more than 2 million—its
links to customers, suppliers, employees, and communities are certain to be numerous,
diverse, and vital to its success. This is why the relationship between business and society
is important for you to understand as both a citizen and a manager.

Business and Society

Business today is arguably the most dominant institution in the world. The term business
refers here to any organization that is engaged in making a product or providing a service for
a profit. Consider that in the United States today there are 6 million businesses, according
to government estimates, and in the world as a whole, there are uncounted millions more.
Of course, these businesses vary greatly in size and impact. They range from a woman who
helps support her family by selling handmade tortillas by the side of the road in Mexico City
for a few pesos, to ExxonMobil, a huge corporation that employs 75,000 workers and earns
annual revenues approaching $412 billion in almost every nation in the world.

Society, in its broadest sense, refers to human beings and to the social structures they col-
lectively create. In a more specific sense, the term is used to refer to segments of humankind,
such as members of a particular community, nation, or interest group. As a set of organiza-
tions created by humans, business is clearly a part of society. At the same time, it is also a
distinct entity, separated from the rest of society by clear boundaries. Business is engaged in
ongoing exchanges with its external environment across these dividing lines. For example,
businesses recruit workers, buy supplies, and borrow money; they also sell products, donate
time, and pay taxes. This book is broadly concerned with the relationship between business
and society. A simple diagram of the relationship between the two appears in Figure 1.1.

As the Walmart example that opened this chapter illustrates, business and society are highly
interdependent. Business activities impact other activities in society, and actions by various
social actors and governments continuously affect business. To manage these interdependen-
cies, managers need an understanding of their company’s key relationships and how the social
and economic system of which they are a part affects, and is affected by, their decisions.

A Systems Perspective
General systems theory, first introduced in the 1940s, argues that all organisms are open to,
and interact with, their external environments. Although most organisms have clear bound-
aries, they cannot be understood in isolation, but only in relationship to their surroundings.

8 “Wal-Mart’s Good-Citizen Efforts Face a Test,” The New York Times, April 30, 2012.

7 “2014 Global Responsibility Report,”

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This simple but powerful idea can be applied to many disciplines. For example, in botany,
the growth of a plant cannot be explained without reference to soil, light, oxygen, moisture,
and other characteristics of its environment. As applied to management theory, the systems
concept implies that business firms (social organisms) are embedded in a broader social
structure (external environment) with which they constantly interact. Corporations have
ongoing boundary exchanges with customers, governments, competitors, suppliers, com-
munities, and many other individuals and groups. Just as good soil, water, and light help a
plant grow, positive interactions with society benefit a business firm.

Like biological organisms, moreover, businesses must adapt to changes in the environ-
ment. Plants growing in low-moisture environments must develop survival strategies, like the
cactus that evolves to store water in its leaves. Similarly, a long-distance telephone company
in a newly deregulated market must learn to compete by changing the products and services it
offers. The key to business survival is often this ability to adapt effectively to changing con-
ditions. In business, systems theory provides a powerful tool to help managers conceptualize
the relationship between their companies and their external environments.

Systems theory helps us understand how business and society, taken together, form an
interactive social system. Each needs the other, and each influences the other. They are
entwined so completely that any action taken by one will surely affect the other. They are
both separate and connected. Business is part of society, and society penetrates far and
often into business decisions. In a world where global communication is rapidly expand-
ing, the connections are closer than ever before. Throughout this book we discuss exam-
ples of organizations and people that are grappling with the challenges of, and helping to
shape, business–society relationships.

The Stakeholder Theory of the Firm

What is the purpose of the modern corporation? To whom, or what, should the firm be
responsible?9 No question is more central to the relationship between business and society.

9 For summaries of contrasting theories of the purpose of the firm, see Margaret M. Blair, “Whose Interests Should Corpora-
tions Serve,” in Margaret M. Blair and Bruce K. MacLaury, Ownership and Control: Rethinking Corporate Governance for the
Twenty-First Century (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1995), ch. 6, pp. 202–34; and James E. Post, Lee E. Preston,
and Sybille Sachs, Redefining the Corporation: Stakeholder Management and Organizational Wealth (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford
University Press, 2002).

Business and Society:
An Interactive
System Society


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In the ownership theory of the firm (sometimes also called property or finance theory),
the firm is seen as the property of its owners. The purpose of the firm is to maximize its
long-term market value, that is, to make the most money it can for shareholders who own
stock in the company. Managers and boards of directors are agents of shareholders and
have no obligations to others, other than those directly specified by law. In this view, own-
ers’ interests are paramount and take precedence over the interests of others.

A contrasting view, called the stakeholder theory of the firm, argues that corporations
serve a broad public purpose: to create value for society. All companies must make a profit
for their owners; indeed, if they did not, they would not long survive. However, corpora-
tions create many other kinds of value as well, such as professional development for their
employees and innovative new products for their customers. In this view, corporations
have multiple obligations, and all stakeholders’ interests must be taken into account. This
approach has been expressed well by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, which states
in its code of conduct that it “places a premium on dealing fairly with employees, cus-
tomers, vendors, government regulators, and the public. Novartis’ success depends upon
maintaining the trust of these essential stakeholders.”10

Supporters of the stakeholder theory of the firm make three core arguments for their
position: descriptive, instrumental, and normative.11

The descriptive argument says that the stakeholder view is simply a more realistic
description of how companies really work. Managers have to pay keen attention, of course,
to their quarterly and annual financial performance. Keeping Wall Street satisfied by man-
aging for growth—thereby attracting more investors and increasing the stock price—is a
core part of any top manager’s job. But the job of management is much more complex than
this. In order to produce consistent results, managers have to be concerned with producing
high-quality and innovative products and services for their customers, attracting and retain-
ing talented employees, and complying with a plethora of complex government regulations.
As a practical matter, managers direct their energies toward all stakeholders, not just owners.

In what became known as the “dollar store wars,” in 2014 two companies made
competing bids to buy Family Dollar, a U.S. discount retail chain based in Char-
lotte, North Carolina—each with very different consequences for stakeholders. One
suitor, Dollar Tree, offered $76.50 per share for the company, while the other, Dol-
lar General, offered $80—seemingly a better deal for shareholders. But the Dollar
General deal faced likely government antitrust scrutiny and would probably have
required the closure of thousands of stores, throwing employees out of work and
depriving low-income communities of access to a discount store. In the end, after
considering the impact on all stakeholders, Family Dollar’s management recom-
mended the lower-priced offer, and three-quarters of its shareholders agreed.12

The instrumental argument says that stakeholder management is more effective as a
corporate strategy. A wide range of studies have shown that companies that behave respon-
sibly toward multiple stakeholder groups perform better financially, over the long run, than
those that do not. (This empirical evidence is further explored in Chapter 3.) These find-
ings make sense, because good relationships with stakeholders are themselves a source of
value for the firm. Attention to stakeholders’ rights and concerns can help produce

10 “Code of Conduct: Values to Live By,” online at
11 The descriptive, instrumental, and normative arguments are summarized in Thomas Donaldson and Lee E. Preston, “The
Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence and Implications,” Academy of Management Review 20, no. 1
(1995), pp. 65–71. See also, Post, Preston, and Sachs, Redefining the Corporation, ch. 1.
12 “Family Dollar Shareholders Approve Sale to Dollar Tree,” Charlotte Observer, January 22, 2015.

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motivated employees, satisfied customers, committed suppliers, and supportive communi-
ties, all good for the company’s bottom line.

The normative argument says that stakeholder management is simply the right thing to
do. Corporations have great power and control vast resources; these privileges carry with
them a duty toward all those affected by a corporation’s actions. Moreover, all stakehold-
ers, not just owners, contribute something of value to the corporation. A skilled engineer
at Microsoft who applies his or her creativity to solving a difficult programming problem
has made a kind of investment in the company, even if it is not a monetary investment. Any
individual or group who makes a contribution, or takes a risk, has a moral right to some
claim on the corporation’s rewards.13

A basis for both the ownership and stakeholder theories of the firm exists in law. The
legal term fiduciary means a person who exercises power on behalf of another, that is, who
acts as the other’s agent. In U.S. law, managers are considered fiduciaries of the owners of
the firm (its stockholders) and have an obligation to run the business in their interest. These
legal concepts are clearly consistent with the ownership theory of the firm. However, other
laws and court cases have given managers broad latitude in the exercise of their fiduciary
duties. In the United States (where corporations are chartered not by the federal government
but by the states), most states have passed laws that permit managers to take into consider-
ation a wide range of other stakeholders’ interests, including those of employees, customers,
creditors, suppliers, and communities. (Benefit corporations, firms with a special legal status
that obligates them to do so, are further discussed in Chapter 3.) In addition, many federal
laws extend specific protections to various groups of stakeholders, such as those that prohibit
discrimination against employees or grant consumers the right to sue if harmed by a product.

In other nations, the legal rights of nonowner stakeholders are often more fully devel-
oped than in the United States. For example, a number of European countries—including
Germany, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden—require public companies
to include employee members on their boards of directors, so that their interests will be
explicitly represented. Under the European Union’s so-called harmonization statutes, man-
agers are specifically permitted to take into account the interests of customers, employees,
creditors, and others.

In short, while the law requires managers to act on behalf of stockholders, it also gives
them wide discretion—and in some instances requires them—to manage on behalf of the
full range of stakeholder groups. The next section provides a more formal definition and an
expanded discussion of the stakeholder concept.

The Stakeholder Concept
The term stakeholder refers to persons and groups that affect, or are affected by, an orga-
nization’s decisions, policies, and operations.14 The word stake, in this context, means

14 The term stakeholder was first introduced in 1963 but was not widely used in the management literature until the publica-
tion of R. Edward Freeman’s Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (Marshfield, MA: Pitman, 1984). For summaries
of the stakeholder theory literature, see Thomas Donaldson and Lee E. Preston, “The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation:
Concepts, Evidence, Implications,” Academy of Management Review, January 1995, pp. 71–83; Max B. E. Clarkson, ed., The
Corporation and Its Stakeholders: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998); Abe J.
Zakhem, Daniel E. Palmer, and Mary Lyn Stoll, Stakeholder Theory: Essential Readings in Ethical Leadership and Manage-
ment (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2008); and R. Edward Freeman, Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

13 Another formulation of this point has been offered by Robert Phillips, who argues for a principle of stakeholder fairness.
This states that “when people are engaged in a cooperative effort and the benefits of this cooperative effort are accepted,
obligations are created on the part of the group accepting the benefit” [i.e., the business firm]. Robert Phillips, Stakeholder
Theory and Organizational Ethics (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2003), p. 9 and ch. 5.

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an interest in—or claim on—a business enterprise. Those with a stake in the firm’s
actions include such diverse groups as customers, employees, shareholders (also called
stockholders), governments, suppliers, professional and trade associations, social and
environmental activists, and nongovernmental organizations. The term stakeholder is
not the same as stockholder, although the words sound similar. Stockholders—individ-
uals or organizations that own shares of a company’s stock—are one of several kinds of

Business organizations are embedded in networks involving many participants. Each
of these participants has a relationship with the firm, based on ongoing interactions.
Each of them shares, to some degree, in both the risks and rewards of the firm’s activ-
ities. And each has some kind of claim on the firm’s resources and attention, based on
law, moral right, or both. The number of these stakeholders and the variety of their inter-
ests can be large, making a company’s decisions very complex, as the Walmart example

Managers make good decisions when they pay attention to the effects of their deci-
sions on stakeholders, as well as stakeholders’ effects on the company. On the positive
side, strong relationships between a corporation and its stakeholders are an asset that
adds value. On the negative side, some companies disregard stakeholders’ interests,
either out of the belief that the stakeholder is wrong or out of the misguided notion
that an unhappy customer, employee, or regulator does not matter. Such attitudes often
prove costly to the company involved. Today, for example, companies know that they
cannot locate a factory or store in a community that strongly objects. They also know
that making a product that is perceived as unsafe invites lawsuits and jeopardizes mar-
ket share.

Different Kinds of Stakeholders
Business interacts with society in many diverse ways, and a company’s relationships with
various stakeholders differ.

Market stakeholders are those that engage in economic transactions with the company
as it carries out its purpose of providing society with goods and services. Each relationship
between a business and one of its market stakeholders is based on a unique transaction, or
two-way exchange. Stockholders invest in the firm and in return receive the potential for
dividends and capital gains. Creditors loan money and collect payments of interest and
principal. Employees contribute their skills and knowledge in exchange for wages, bene-
fits, and the opportunity for personal satisfaction and professional development. In return
for payment, suppliers provide raw materials, energy, services, finished products, and other
inputs; and wholesalers, distributors, and retailers engage in market transactions with the
firm as they help move the product from plant to sales outlets to customers. All businesses
need customers who are willing to buy their products or services.

The puzzling question of whether or not managers should be classified as stakeholders
along with other employees is discussed in Exhibit 1.A.

Nonmarket stakeholders, by contrast, are people and groups who—although they do
not engage in direct economic exchange with the firm—are nonetheless affected by or
can affect its actions. Nonmarket stakeholders include the community, various levels of
government, nongovernmental organizations, business support groups, competitors, and
the general public. Nonmarket stakeholders are not necessarily less important than others,
simply because they do not engage in direct economic exchange with a business. On the
contrary, interactions with such groups can be critical to a firm’s success or failure, as
shown in the following example.

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In 2001, a company called Energy Management Inc. (EMI) announced a plan to
build a wind farm about six miles off the shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to sup-
ply clean, renewable power to New England customers. The project, called Cape
Wind, immediately generated intense opposition from residents of Cape Cod and
nearby islands, who were concerned that its 130 wind turbines would spoil the view
and get in the way of boats. A nonprofit group called Save Our Sound filed dozens
of lawsuits, charging possible harm to wildlife, increased electricity rates, and dan-
ger to aircraft. In early 2015, EMI appeared blocked on all sides, as local utilities
withdrew their commitments to buy power from the wind farm, which one local
newspaper called the final “death blow.”15

In this instance, activists were able to block the company’s plans for more than a
decade—and possibly permanently—even though they did not have a market relationship
with it.

Theorists also distinguish between internal stakeholders and external stakeholders.
Internal stakeholders are those, such as employees and managers, who are employed by the
firm. They are “inside” the firm, in the sense that they contribute their effort and skill, usu-
ally at a company worksite. External stakeholders, by contrast, are those who—although
they may have important transactions with the firm—are not directly employed by it.

The classification of government as a nonmarket stakeholder has been controversial
in stakeholder theory. Most theorists say that government is a nonmarket stakeholder (as
does this book) because it does not normally conduct any direct market exchanges (buying
and selling) with business. However, money often flows from business to government in
the form of taxes and fees, and sometimes from government to business in the form of
subsidies or incentives. Moreover, some businesses—defense contractors for example—do

15 “Renewable Energy: Wind Power Tests the Waters,” Nature, September 24, 2014; “Cape Wind’s Future Called into Ques-
tion,” The Boston Globe, January 8, 2015; and “Cape Wind Becalmed,” Providence Journal, January 21, 2015. The website
of the project is at The story of the opposition to Cape Wind is told in Robert Whitcomb and Wendy
Williams, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Energy, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future (New York: PublicAffairs,

Are Managers Stakeholders?

Are managers, especially top executives, stakeholders? This has been a contentious issue in stakeholder
On one hand, the answer clearly is “yes.” Like other stakeholders, managers are impacted by the firm’s
decisions. As employees of the firm, managers receive compensation—often very generous compensation,
as shown in Chapter 13. Their managerial roles confer opportunities for professional advancement, social
status, and power over others. Managers benefit from the company’s success and are hurt by its failure. For
these reasons, they might properly be classified as employees.
On the other hand, top executives are agents of the firm and are responsible for acting on its behalf. In
the stakeholder theory of the firm, their role is to integrate stakeholder interests, rather than to promote their
own more narrow, selfish goals. For these reasons, they might properly be classified as representatives of the
firm itself, rather than as one of its stakeholders.
Management theory has long recognized that these two roles of managers potentially conflict. The main
job of executives is to act for the company, but all too often they act primarily for themselves. Consider, for
example, the many top executives of Lehman Brothers, MF Global, and Merrill Lynch, who enriched them-
selves personally at the expense of shareholders, employees, customers, and other stakeholders. The chal-
lenge of persuading top managers to act in the firm’s best interest is further discussed in Chapter 13.

Exhibit 1.A

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sell directly to the government and receive payment for goods and services rendered. For
this reason, a few theorists have called government a market stakeholder of business. And,
in a few cases, the government may take a direct ownership stake in a company—as the
U.S. government did after the financial crisis of 2008–09 when it invested in several banks
and auto companies, becoming a shareholder of these firms. Government also has special
influence over business because of its ability to charter and tax corporations, as well as
make laws that regulate their activities. The unique relationship between government and
business is discussed throughout this book.

Other stakeholders also have some market and some nonmarket characteristics. For
example, business support groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, are normally con-
sidered a nonmarket stakeholder. However, companies may support the Chamber of Com-
merce with their membership dues—a market exchange. Communities are a nonmarket
stakeholder, but receive taxes, philanthropic contributions, and other monetary benefits
from businesses. These subtleties are further explored in later chapters.

Modern stakeholder theory recognizes that most business firms are embedded in a com-
plex web of stakeholders, many of which have independent relationships with each other.16
In this view, a business firm and its stakeholders are best visualized as an interconnected
network. Imagine, for example, an electronics company, based in the United States, that
produces smartphones, tablets, and music players. The firm employs people to design,
engineer, and market its devices to customers in many countries. Shares in the company
are owned by investors around the world, including many of its own employees and man-
agers. Production is carried out by suppliers in Asia. Banks provide credit to the company,
as well as to other companies. Competing firms sell their products to some of the same
customers, and also contract production to some of the same Asian suppliers. Nongovern-
mental organizations may seek to lobby the government concerning the firm’s practices,
and may count some employees among their members. A visual representation of this
company and its stakeholders is shown in Figure 1.2.

As Figure 1.2 suggests, some individuals or groups may play multiple stakeholder roles.
Some theorists use the term role sets to refer to this phenomenon. For example, a person
may work at a company, but also live in the surrounding community, own shares of com-
pany stock in his or her 401(k) retirement account, and even purchase the company’s prod-
ucts from time to time. This person has several stakes in a company’s actions.

Later sections of this book (especially Chapters 13 through 19) will discuss in more
detail the relationship between business and its various stakeholders.

Stakeholder Analysis

An important part of the modern manager’s job is to identify relevant stakeholders and to
understand both their interests and the power they may have to assert these interests. This
process is called stakeholder analysis. The organization from whose perspective the analy-
sis is conducted is called the focal organization.

The first step of a stakeholder analysis is for managers of the focal organization to
identify the issue at hand. For example, in the Cape Wind situation discussed earlier in this
chapter, Energy Management Inc. had to analyze how best to win regulatory approval for
the construction of its wind farm. Once the issue is determined, managers must ask four
key questions, as discussed below and summarized in Figure 1.3.

16 Timothy J. Rowley, “Moving Beyond Dyadic Ties: A Network Theory of Stakeholder Influence,” Academy of Management
Review 22, no. 4 (October 1997).

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Who are the relevant stakeholders?

The first question requires management to identify and map the relevant stakeholders.
Exhibit 1.B, which appears later in this chapter, provides a guide. However, not all stake-
holders listed will be relevant in every management situation. For example, a privately held

A Firm and Its










The Four Key
Questions of
Stakeholder Analysis

Who are the relevant stakeholders?

What are the interests of each stakeholder?

What is the power of each stakeholder?

How are coalitions likely to form?

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firm will not have shareholders. Some businesses sell directly to customers online, and
therefore will not have retailers. In other situations, a firm may have a stakeholder—say,
a creditor that has loaned money—but this group is not relevant to a particular issue that
management faces.

But stakeholder analysis involves more than simply identifying stakeholders; it also
involves understanding the nature of their interests, power, legitimacy, and links with one

Stakeholder Interests
What are the interests of each stakeholder?

Each stakeholder has a unique relationship to the organization, and managers must respond
accordingly. Stakeholder interests are, essentially, the nature of each group’s stake. What
are their concerns, and what do they want from their relationship with the firm?17

Shareholders, for their part, have an ownership interest in the firm. In exchange for their
investment, shareholders expect to receive dividends and, over time, capital appreciation.
The economic health of the corporation affects these people financially; their personal
wealth—and often, their retirement security—is at stake. They may also seek to achieve
social objectives through their choice of investments. Customers, for their part, are most
interested in gaining fair value and quality in exchange for the purchase price of goods and
services. Suppliers wish to obtain profitable orders, use their capacity efficiently, and build
stable relationships with their business customers. Employees, in exchange for their time
and effort, want to receive fair compensation and an opportunity to develop their job skills.
Governments, public interest groups, and local communities have another sort of relation-
ship with the company. In general, their stake is broader than the financial stake of owners,
customers, and suppliers. They may wish to protect the environment, assure human rights,
or advance other broad social interests. Managers need to understand these complex and
often intersecting stakeholder interests.

Stakeholder Power
What is the power of each stakeholder?

Stakeholder power means the ability to use resources to make an event happen or to secure
a desired outcome. Stakeholders have five different kinds of power: voting power, eco-
nomic power, political power, legal power, and informational power.

Voting power means that the stakeholder has a legitimate right to cast a vote. Share-
holders typically have voting power proportionate to the percentage of the company’s stock
they own. They typically have an opportunity to vote on such major decisions as mergers
and acquisitions, the composition of the board of directors, and other issues that may come
before the annual meeting. (Shareholder voting power should be distinguished from the
voting power exercised by citizens, which is discussed below.)

For example, Starboard Value LP, a New York–based hedge fund, used its voting
power as a shareholder to force change in a company it had invested in. Starboard
bought more than 8 percent of the shares of Darden Restaurants, the owner of Red
Lobster, Olive Garden, and other eatery chains. It called for radical change, slamming
management for tolerating “lavish excess, bureaucracy, and low standards.” When
Darden resisted, Starboard and its allies fielded their own slate of nominees in the

17 A full discussion of the interests of stakeholders may be found in R. Edward Freeman, Ethical Theory and Business (Engle-
wood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994).

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election for the board of directors, organized support from other voting shareholders—
and won. Activist investors like Starboard engaged in almost 300 such campaigns in
2014, the highest in five years, and won almost three-quarters of the time.18

Suppliers, customers, employees, and other stakeholders have economic power with the
company. Suppliers, for example, can withhold supplies or refuse to fill orders if a com-
pany fails to meet its contractual responsibilities. Customers may refuse to buy a compa-
ny’s products or services if the company acts improperly. They can boycott products if they
believe the goods are too expensive, poorly made, or unsafe. Employees, for their part, can
refuse to work under certain conditions, a form of economic power known as a strike or
slowdown. Economic power often depends on how well organized a stakeholder group is.
For example, workers who are organized into unions usually have more economic power
than do workers who try to negotiate individually with their employers.

Governments exercise political power through legislation, regulations, or lawsuits.
While government agencies act directly, other stakeholders use their political power indi-
rectly by urging government to use its powers by passing new laws or enacting regulations.
Citizens may also vote for candidates that support their views with respect to government
laws and regulations affecting business, a different kind of voting power than the one dis-
cussed above. Stakeholders may also exercise political power directly, as when social,
environmental, or community activists organize to protest a particular corporate action.

Stakeholders have legal power when they bring suit against a company for damages,
based on harm caused by the firm; for instance, lawsuits brought by customers for damages
caused by defective products, brought by employees for damages caused by workplace
injury, or brought by environmentalists for damages caused by pollution or harm to species
or habitat. After the mortgage lender Countrywide collapsed, many institutional share-
holders, such as state pension funds, sued Bank of America (which had acquired Country-
wide) to recoup some of their losses.

Finally, stakeholders have informational power when they have access to valuable data,
facts, or details and are able to bring their own information and perspectives to the atten-
tion of the public or key decision makers. With the explosive growth of technologies that
facilitate the sharing of information, this kind of stakeholder power has become increas-
ingly important.

Consumers’ ability to use social networks to express their views about businesses
they like—and do not like—has given them power they did not previously have. For
example, Yelp Inc. operates a website where people can search for local businesses,
post reviews, and read others’ comments. In 2014, a decade after its launch, Yelp
attracted almost 140 million unique visitors every month. Its reviewers collectively
have gained considerable influence. Restaurants, cultural venues, hair salons, and
other establishments can attract customers with five-star ratings and “People Love
Us on Yelp” stickers in their windows—but, by the same token, can be badly hurt
when reviews turn nasty. A study in the Harvard Business Review reported that a
one-star increase in an independent restaurant’s Yelp rating led to a 5 to 9 percent
increase in revenue. Some businesses have complained that Yelp reviewers have too
much power. “My business just died,” said the sole proprietor of a housecleaning
business. “Once they locked me into the 3.5 stars, I wasn’t getting any calls.”19

18 “The Hedge Fund Presentation on Olive Garden is a Masterpiece,” Business Insider, September 13, 2014; “Activist Hedge
Fund Starboard Succeeds in Replacing Darden Board,” The New York Times, October 10, 2014; and “Taking Recipes from the
Activist Cookbook,” The New York Times, December 9, 2014.
19 “Is Yelp Fair to Businesses?” PC World, November 15, 2011.

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Activists often try to use all of these kinds of power when they want to change a com-
pany’s policy. For example, human rights activists wanted to bring pressure on Unocal
Corporation to change its practices in Burma (Myanmar), where it had entered into a joint
venture with the government to build a gas pipeline. Critics charged that many human
rights violations occurred during this project, including forced labor and relocations. In
an effort to pressure Unocal to change its behavior, activists organized protests at stock-
holder meetings (voting power), called for boycotts of Unocal products (economic power),
promoted local ordinances prohibiting cities from buying from Unocal (political power),
brought a lawsuit for damages on behalf of Burmese villagers (legal power), and gathered
information about government abuses by interviewing Burmese refugees and publicizing
the results online (informational power). These activists increased their chances of success
by mobilizing many kinds of power. This combination of tactics eventually forced Unocal
to pay compensation to people whose rights had been violated and to fund education and
health care projects in the pipeline region.20

Exhibit 1.B provides a schematic summary of some of the main interests and powers of
both market and nonmarket stakeholders.

Stakeholder Coalitions
An understanding of stakeholder interests and power enables managers to answer the final
question of stakeholder analysis regarding coalitions.

How are coalitions likely to form?

Not surprisingly, stakeholder interests often coincide. For example, consumers of fresh
fruit and farmworkers who harvest that fruit in the field may have a shared interest in
reducing the use of pesticides, because of possible adverse health effects from exposure to
chemicals. When their interests are similar, stakeholders may form coalitions, temporary
alliances to pursue a common interest. Companies may be both opposed and supported by
stakeholder coalitions, as shown in the example of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada, a major North American energy company, sought approval to build a
pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to
existing pipelines running to refineries and ports along the Gulf Coast. In opposing
the Keystone XL pipeline, environmentalists argued it would enable the export of
oil extracted from Canadian tar sands, an energy-intensive and dirty process. When
burned, the tar sands oil would release carbon dioxide, contributing to further
climate change, and spills from the pipeline could foul water supplies. They were
joined in coalition by other groups, such as ranchers, farmers, and Native Ameri-
cans whose land would be crossed by the pipeline. On the other side, construction
unions, many local governments, and business groups supported the pipeline, say-
ing that it would create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and provide a
safer method of transport than trains or tanker trucks.21

Stakeholder coalitions are not static. Groups that are highly involved with a company
today may be less involved tomorrow. Issues that are controversial at one time may be
uncontroversial later; stakeholders that are dependent on an organization at one time may
be less so at another. To make matters more complicated, the process of shifting coali-
tions does not occur uniformly in all parts of a large corporation. Stakeholders involved
with one part of a large company often have little or nothing to do with other parts of the

20 Further information about the campaign against Unocal is available at
21 “Keystone Pipeline Pros, Cons and Steps to a Final Decision,” The New York Times, November 18, 2014.

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Stakeholder Map
of a Proposed Plant








r S



Position on the IssueAGAINST




organization. Today, stakeholder coalitions are numerous in every industry and important
to every company.

The discussion case at the end of this chapter describes the coalitions that developed in
favor of and opposition to new regulations that would require the ride-hailing start-up Uber
to insure drivers logged onto its system to look for customers.

Stakeholder Salience and Mapping
Some scholars have suggested that managers pay the most attention to stakeholders pos-
sessing greater salience. (Something is salient when it stands out from a background, is
seen as important, or draws attention.) Stakeholders stand out to managers when they have
power, legitimacy, and urgency. The previous section discussed various forms of stake-
holder power. Legitimacy refers to the extent to which a stakeholder’s actions are seen as
proper or appropriate by the broader society, because they are clearly affected by the com-
pany’s actions. Urgency refers to the time-sensitivity of a stakeholder’s claim, that is, the
extent to which it demands immediate action. The more of these three attributes a stake-
holder possesses, the greater the stakeholder’s salience and the more likely that managers
will notice and respond.22

Managers can use the salience concept to develop a stakeholder map, a graphical repre-
sentation of the relationship of stakeholder salience to a particular issue. Figure 1.4 pres-
ents a simple example of a stakeholder map. The figure shows the position of various
stakeholders on a hypothetical issue—whether or not a company should shut down an
underperforming factory in a community. The horizontal axis represents each stakehold-
er’s position on this issue—from “against” (the company should not shut the plant) to
“for” (the company should shut the plant). The vertical axis represents the salience of the
stakeholder, an overall measure of that stakeholder’s power, legitimacy, and urgency. In
this example, the company’s creditors (banks) are pressuring the firm to close the plant.

22 Ronald K. Mitchell, Bradley R. Agle, and Donna J. Wood, “Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience:
Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts,” Academy of Management Review 22, no. 4 (1997), pp. 853–86.

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Stakeholders: Nature of Interest
and PowerExhibit 1.B

Nature of Interest—
Stakeholder Wishes To:

Nature of Power—Stakeholder
Influences Company By:

Market Stakeholders

Employees ■ Maintain stable employment in firm
■ Receive fair pay for work and mandated

■ Work in safe, comfortable environment

■ Union bargaining power
■ Work actions or strikes
■ Publicity

Shareholders ■ Receive a satisfactory return on
investments (dividends)

■ Realize appreciation in stock value over

■ Exercising voting rights based on share

■ Exercising rights to inspect company
books and records

Customers ■ Receive fair exchange: value and quality
for money spent

■ Receive safe, reliable products
■ Receive accurate information
■ Be able to voice concerns

■ Purchasing goods from competitors
■ Boycotting companies whose products

are unsatisfactory or whose policies are

Suppliers ■ Receive regular orders for goods
■ Be paid promptly for supplies delivered

■ Use capacity efficiently
■ Build stable relationships with

business customers
■ Be treated ethically

■ Refusing to meet orders if conditions of
contract are breached

■ Supplying to competitors

Retailers, Wholesalers ■ Receive quality goods in a timely fashion
at reasonable cost

■ Offer reliable products that consumers
trust and value

■ Buying from other suppliers if terms of
contract are unsatisfactory

■ Boycotting companies whose goods or
policies are unsatisfactory

Creditors ■ Receive repayment of loans
■ Collect debts and interest

■ Calling in loans if payments are not made
■ Utilizing legal authorities to repossess or

take over property if loan payments are
severely delinquent

They have high salience, because they control the company’s credit line and are urgently
demanding action. Shareholders, who are powerful and legitimate (but not as urgent in
their demands), also favor the closure. On the other side, employees urgently oppose shut-
ting the plant, because their jobs are at stake, but they do not have as much power as the
creditors and are therefore less salient. Local government officials and local businesses
also wish the plant to remain open, but have lower salience than the other stakeholders

A stakeholder map is a useful tool, because it enables managers to see quickly how
stakeholders feel about an issue and whether salient stakeholders tend to be in favor or
opposed. It also helps managers see how stakeholder coalitions are likely to form, and
what outcomes are likely. In this example, company executives might conclude from the

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Nature of Interest—
Stakeholder Wishes To:

Nature of Power—Stakeholder
Influences Company By:

Nonmarket Stakeholders

Communities ■ Employ local residents in the company
■ Ensure that the local environment is

■ Ensure that the local area is developed

■ Refusing to extend additional credit
■ Issuing or restricting operating licenses

and permits
■ Lobbying government for regulation of

the company’s policies or methods of
land use and waste disposal


■ Monitor company actions and policies
to ensure that they conform to legal and
ethical standards
■ Promote social and economic


■ Gaining broad public support through
publicizing the issue

■ Lobbying government for regulation of
the company

Business support
groups (e.g., trade

■ Provide research and information
which will help the company or industry
perform in a changing environment

■ Using its staff and resources to assist
company in business endeavors and
development efforts

■ Providing legal or “group” political
support beyond that which an individual
company can provide for itself

Governments ■ Promote economic development
■ Encourage social improvements
■ Raise revenues through taxes

■ Adopting regulations and laws
■ Issuing licenses and permits
■ Allowing or disallowing commercial


The general public ■ Protect social values
■ Minimize risks
■ Achieve prosperity for society

■ Receive fair and honest communication

■ Networking with other stakeholders
■ Pressing government to act
■ Condemning or praising individual


Competitors ■ Compete fairly
■ Cooperate on industry-wide or

community issues
■ Seek new customers

■ Pressing government for fair competition
■ Suing companies that compete


stakeholder map that those supporting the closure—creditors and shareholders—have the
greatest salience. Although they are less salient, employees, local government officials,
and the community all oppose the closure and may try to increase their salience by work-
ing together. Managers might conclude that the closure is likely, unless opponents organize
an effective coaliton. This example is fairly simple; more complex stakeholder maps can
represent network ties among stakeholders, the size of stakeholder groups, and the degree
of consensus within stakeholder groups.23

23 For two different approaches to stakeholder mapping, see David Saiia and Vananh Le, “A Map Leading to Less Waste,” Pro-
ceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 20: 302–13 (2009); and Robert Boutilier, Stakeholder Poli-
tics: Social Capital, Sustainable Development, and the Corporation (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 2009), chs. 6 and 7.

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The Corporation’s Boundary-Spanning Departments

How do corporations organize internally to respond to and interact with stakeholders?
Boundary-spanning departments are departments, or offices, within an organization that

reach across the dividing line that separates the company from groups and people in soci-
ety. Building positive and mutually beneficial relationships across organizational boundar-
ies is a growing part of management’s role.

Figure 1.5 presents a list of the corporation’s market and nonmarket stakeholders, along-
side the corporate departments that typically have responsibility for engaging with them.
As the figure suggests, the organization of the corporation’s boundary-spanning functions
is complex. For example, in many companies, departments of public affairs or government
relations interact with elected officials and regulators. Departments of investor relations

FIGURE 1.5 The Corporation’s Boundary-Spanning Departments







Customer Relations

• Customer service
• Total quality management
• Liability lawsuit defense
• Recall management

Shareholder Relations,
Investor Relations

• External and internal
• SEC filings, compliance
• Communications
• Proxy election
managementPublic Affairs,

Governmental Affairs,
Government Relations

• Public policy
• Lobbying
• Political action
• Trade associations
• Advocacy ads
• Grassroots mobilization

Human Resources, Labor Relations

• Communications
• Union negotiations
• OSHA, EEOC, and labor
law compliance
• Diversity and family–work

Health & Safety,

• EPA and state
• Internal environmental
• Recycling, take-back

Community Relations,
Corporate Citizenship

• Corporate philanthropy
• Partners with community-
based organizations
• Volunteerism, employee
time contributions

Public Relations,
Media Relations,
Corporate Communications

• Public relations
• Brand management
• Image advertising
• Crisis management

Corporate Relations,
Corporate Citizenship, Corporate
Responsibility, External Affairs

• Environmental scanning
• Stakeholder engagement
• Social reporting and auditing

Environment General public






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interact with stockholders; human resources with employees; customer relations with cus-
tomers; and community relations with the community. Specialized departments of envi-
ronment, health, and safety may deal with environmental compliance and worker health
and safety, and public relations or corporate communications. Many of these specific
departments will be discussed in more detail in later chapters.

The Dynamic Environment of Business

A core argument of this book is that the external environment of business is dynamic and
ever changing. Businesses and their stakeholders do not interact in a vacuum. On the con-
trary, most companies operate in a swirl of social, ethical, global, political, ecological, and
technological change that produces both opportunities and threats. Figure 1.6 diagrams
the six dynamic forces that powerfully shape the business and society relationship. Each
of these forces is introduced briefly below and will be discussed in more detail later in this

Changing societal expectations. Everywhere around the world, society’s expec-
tations of business are rising. People increasingly expect business to be more
responsible, believing companies should pay close attention to social issues and act
as good citizens in society. New public issues constantly arise that require action.
Increasingly, business is faced with the daunting task of balancing its social, legal,
and economic obligations, seeking to meet its commitments to multiple stakehold-
ers. Modern businesses are increasingly exploring opportunities to act in ways
that balance numerous stakeholders’ needs with their multiple obligations. These
changes in society’s expectations of business, and how managers have responded,
are described in Chapters 2 and 3.

Forces That Shape
the Business and
Society Relationship





of Business

Emphasis on
Ethical Values



and Its


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Globalization. We live in an increasingly integrated world economy, characterized
by the unceasing movement of goods, services, and capital across national borders.
Large transnational corporations do business in scores of countries. Products and
services people buy every day in the United States or Germany may have come
from Indonesia, Haiti, or Mexico. Today, economic forces truly play out on a global
stage. A financial crisis on Wall Street can quickly impact economies around the
world. Societal issues—such as the race to find a cure for Ebola, the movement
for women’s equality, or the demands of citizens everywhere for full access to the
Internet—also cut across national boundaries. Chapter 4 addresses the challenges of
Growing emphasis on ethical reasoning and actions. The public also expects
business to be ethical and wants corporate managers to apply ethical principles or
values—in other words, guidelines about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair,
and morally correct—when they make business decisions. Fair employment prac-
tices, concern for consumer safety, contribution to the welfare of the community,
and human rights protection around the world have become more prominent and
important. Business has created ethics programs to help ensure that employees are
aware of these issues and act in accordance with ethical standards. The ethical chal-
lenges faced by business, both domestically and abroad—and business’s response—
are discussed in Chapters 5 and 6.
Evolving government regulations and business response. The role of government
has changed dramatically in many nations in recent decades. Governments around
the world have enacted a myriad of new policies that have profoundly constrained
how business is allowed to operate. Government regulation of business periodically
advances and then retreats, much as a pendulum swings back and forth. Because of
the dynamic nature of this force, business has developed various strategies to influ-
ence elected officials and government regulators at federal, state, and local levels.
Companies may seek to be active participants in the political process, and in recent
years the courts have given them more opportunities to do so. The changing role of
government, its impact, and business’s response are explored in Chapters 7 and 8.
Dynamic natural environment. All interactions between business and society occur
within a finite natural ecosystem. Humans share a single planet, and many of our
resources—oil, coal, and gas, for example—are nonrenewable. Once used, they are
gone forever. Other resources, like clean water, timber, and fish, are renewable, but
only if humans use them sustainably, not taking more than can be naturally replen-
ished. Climate change now threatens all nations. The relentless demands of human
society, in many arenas, have already exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth’s
ecosystem. The state of the Earth’s resources and changing attitudes about the nat-
ural environment powerfully impact the business–society relationship. These issues
are explored in Chapters 9 and 10.
Explosion of new technology and innovation. Technology is one of the most dra-
matic and powerful forces affecting business and society. It has led to the world
appearing to be smaller and more connected. New technological innovations har-
ness the human imagination to create new machines, processes, and software that
address the needs, problems, and concerns of modern society. In recent years, the
pace of technological change has increased enormously. From genetically modified
foods to social networking, change keeps coming. The extent and pace of techno-
logical innovation pose massive challenges for business, and sometimes govern-
ment, as they seek to manage various privacy, security, and intellectual property

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issues embedded in this dynamic force. As discussed in Chapters 11 and 12, new
technologies often force managers and organizations to examine seriously the ethi-
cal implications of their use.

Creating Value in a Dynamic Environment
These powerful and dynamic forces—fast-paced changes in societal and ethical expectations,
the global economy, government policies, the natural environment, and new technology—
establish the context in which businesses interact with their many market and nonmarket
stakeholders, as discussed in Chapters 13 to 19. This means that the relationship between
business and society is continuously changing in new and often unpredictable ways. Envi-
ronments, people, and organizations change; inevitably, new issues will arise and challenge
managers to develop new solutions. To be effective, corporations must meet the reasonable
expectations of stakeholders and society in general. A successful business must meet all of
its economic, social, and environmental objectives. A core argument of this book is that the
purpose of the firm is not simply to make a profit, but to create value for all its stakeholders.
Ultimately, business success is judged not simply by a company’s financial performance but
by how well it serves broad social interests.

∙ Business firms are organizations that are engaged in making a product or providing
a service for a profit. Society, in its broadest sense, refers to human beings and to the
social structures they collectively create. Business is part of society and engages in
ongoing exchanges with its external environment. Together, business and society form
an interactive social system in which the actions of each profoundly influence the other.

∙ According to the stakeholder theory of the firm, the purpose of the modern corporation
is to create value for all of its stakeholders. To survive, all companies must make a
profit for their owners. However, they also create many other kinds of value as well for
their employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and others. For both practical and
ethical reasons, corporations must take all stakeholders’ interests into account.

∙ Every business firm has economic and social relationships with others in society. Some
are intended, some unintended; some are positive, others negative. Stakeholders are
all those who affect, or are affected by, the actions of the firm. Some have a market
relationship with the company, and others have a nonmarket relationship with it; some
stakeholders are internal, and others are external.

∙ Stakeholders often have multiple interests and can exercise their economic, political,
and other powers in ways that benefit or challenge the organization. Stakeholders may
also act independently or create coalitions to influence the company. Stakeholder map-
ping is a technique for graphically representing stakeholders’ relationship to an issue
facing a firm.

∙ Modern corporations have developed a range of boundary-crossing departments and
offices to manage interactions with market and nonmarket stakeholders. The organi-
zation of the corporation’s boundary-spanning functions is complex. Most companies
have many departments specifically charged with interacting with stakeholders.

∙ A number of broad forces shape the relationship between business and society. These
include changing societal and ethical expectations; a dynamic global economy; redefini-
tion of the role of government; ecological and natural resource concerns; and the trans-
formational role of technology and innovation. To deal effectively with these changes,
corporate strategy must address the expectations of all of the company’s stakeholders.


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Discussion Case: Insuring Uber’s App-On Gap

At around 8 p.m. on the evening on December 31, 2013, a mother and her two young chil-
dren were walking home in San Francisco. At a busy intersection, the family waited for
the “walk” signal and then started across the street. Just then, an SUV made a right turn,
striking all three members of the family in the crosswalk. The mother and her 5-year-old
son were seriously injured. Her 6-year-old daughter was killed. The man behind the wheel
of the SUV identified himself as a driver for the ride-hailing service Uber.
Uber immediately distanced itself from the tragedy, saying that the driver was “not
providing services on the Uber system at the time of the accident.” The family’s attorney
contested this, saying that the driver was logged onto the Uber application, appeared on the
system as available to accept a rider, and was interacting with his device when he struck
the mother and children.
In other words, the tragic incident had apparently occurred during the app-on gap—the
driver was on the road with his Uber application activated, but had not yet connected with
or picked up a rider. So, who was responsible, the driver or the ride-hailing service?
Uber was, in the words of a New York Times columnist, “the hottest, most valuable tech-
nology startup on the planet.” The company was founded in 2009 as “everyone’s private
driver,” providing a premium town car service that could be summoned online. In 2012, it
rolled out UberX, a service that enabled nonprofessional drivers to use their own vehicles
to transport riders. Customers could use the Uber app to hail a car, connect with a willing
driver, watch the vehicle approach on a map, pay their fare, and receive a receipt, all on their
smartphone. Uber provided the technology and took a commission on each transaction.
Uber’s disruptive business model caught on rapidly. By mid-2014, Uber’s ride-sharing
service had spread to more than 120 cities in 36 countries. In the United States, the ser-
vice could reach 137 million people with an average pickup time of less than 10 minutes.
Demand was growing so fast that Uber was scrambling to recruit 20,000 new drivers,

Key Terms stakeholder (market), 8
stakeholder (nonmarket), 8
stakeholder map, 15
stakeholder power, 12
salience, 15
stakeholder theory of the
firm, 6

departments, 18
business, 4
external stakeholder, 9
focal organization, 10
general systems
theory, 4
interactive social
system, 5

internal stakeholder, 9
ownership theory of the
firm, 6
society, 4
stakeholder, 7
stakeholder analysis, 10
coalitions, 14
stakeholder interests, 12

Resources The Economist Fortune The New York Times The Wall Street Journal Bloomberg Financial Times (London) CNN Money

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Chapter 1 The Corporation and Its Stakeholders 23

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whom Uber called “transportation entrepreneurs,” every month. Private investors were
enthusiastic about the company’s prospects: Uber had attracted $1.2 billion in funding and
was valued at $18.2 billion.
Drivers who partnered with Uber had the flexibility to drive when and as much as they
wished. They could also make a decent living; the median annual income for its full-time
drivers in San Francisco, for example, was about $74,000. But they also assumed risk. In the
event of an accident, Uber instructed its drivers to submit a claim to their personal insurance
carrier first. If it was denied, Uber’s backup commercial liability insurance would go into
effect, but only after the driver had been summoned by a customer or had one in the vehicle.
Traditional taxicab companies did not welcome competition from Uber. Cabdrivers in
many cities across the world protested the entry of Uber into their markets, conducting
strikes and “rolling rallies” charging Uber with unfair practices. Uber drivers did not have
to comply with many of the rules that applied to taxicabs, such as those requiring commer-
cial driver’s licenses, regular mechanical inspections, and commercial liability insurance.
Governments at city, state, and national levels had become involved, with some imposing
restrictions and others even banning Uber outright.
In the wake of the 6-year-old’s death in San Francisco, California, legislator Susan
Bonilla introduced a bill that would require Uber and other ride-hailing companies to pro-
vide commerical liability insurance from when the driver turned on the app to when the
customer got out of the car, thus filling the app-on gap.
The American Insurance Association, representing insurance companies, supported the
legislation, saying that personal auto policies should not be expected to cover ride-hailing
drivers once they signaled availability. “This is not someone commuting to work or going
to the grocery store or stopping to pick their children up from school,” a spokesperson
said. The family of the girl killed on New Year’s Eve also supported Bonilla’s bill, as did
consumer attorneys and the California App-Based Drivers Association.
But others lined up in opposition. Uber and other ride-hailing companies strenuously
objected to the bill, as did trade associations representing high-technology and Inter-
net-based firms, apparently concerned about increases in their costs of doing business. The
bill, said an Uber spokesperson, was “an example of what happens when special interest
groups distract lawmakers from the best interests of consumers and small businesses.”

Sources: “Deadly Pedestrian Accident Driver Claimed He Drove for Uber,” January 1, 2014,; “Uber
and a Child’s Death,” New York Times, January 27, 2014; “An Uber Impact: 20,000 Jobs Created on the Uber Platform Every
Month,” Uber press release, May 27, 2014; “With Uber, Less Reason to Own a Car,” New York Times, June 11, 2014; “Uber
and Airbnb’s Incredible Growth in 4 Charts,” VB News, June 19, 2014, online at; “In Uber vs. Taxi
Companies, Local Governments Play Referee,” Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2014; “The Company Cities Love to Hate,”
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 7, 2014; “Uber, Lyft, Sidecar Fight to Block New California Regulations,” San Jose Mercury
News, August 13, 2014; “The Question of Coverage for Ride Service Drivers,” New York Times, September 5, 2014; and
private correspondence with the office of Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.


1. Who are Uber’s relevant market and nonmarket stakeholders in this situation?
2. What are the various stakeholders’ interests? Please indicate if each stakeholder would

likely support, or oppose, a requirement that Uber extend its insurance to cover the
app-on gap.

3. What sources of power do the relevant stakeholders have?
4. Based on the information you have, draft a stakeholder map of this case showing each

stakeholder’s position on the issue and degree of salience. What conclusions can you
draw from the stakeholder map?

5. What do you think Uber should do in response to the bill introduced by Susan Bonilla,
and why?

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Managing Public
Issues and Stakeholder
Businesses today operate in an ever-changing external environment, where effective management
requires anticipating emerging public issues and engaging positively with a wide range of stakehold-
ers. Whether the issue is growing concerns about climate change, water scarcity, child labor, animal
cruelty, or consumer safety, managers must respond to the opportunities and risks it presents. To do
so effectively often requires building relationships across organizational boundaries, learning from
external stakeholders, and altering practices in response. Effective management of public issues and
stakeholder relationships builds value for the firm.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 2-1 Identifying public issues and analyzing gaps between corporate performance and stakeholder

LO 2-2 Applying available tools or techniques to scan an organization’s multiple environments and assess-
ing stakeholder materiality.

LO 2-3 Describing the steps in the issue management process and determining how to make the process
most effective.

LO 2-4 Identifying the managerial skills required to respond to emerging issues effectively.

LO 2-5 Understanding how businesses can effectively engage with its stakeholders, what drives this
engagement, and the role social media can play.

LO 2-6 Recognizing the value of creating stakeholder dialogue and networks.

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For more than a decade consumer advocates and government regulators grew increasingly
concerned about the widespread use of antibiotics to treat disease in animals raised for
meat, milk, and eggs. The problem was that this practice contributed to the emergence
of antibiotic-resistant germs that then went on to infect humans. In 2013, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 2 million Americans fell ill, and at least
23,000 died, because of antibiotic-resistant infections. “Up to half of antibiotic use in
humans and much of the antibiotic use in animals in unnecessary and inappropriate and
makes everyone less safe,” said a representative of the Centers for Disease Control.

As public concern grew, many companies responded. In 2014, Perdue, one of Ameri-
ca’s largest poultry producers, announced that it would no longer use antibiotics in its egg
hatcheries, completing a phase out program begun in the mid-2000s. Tyson Foods, another
large American poultry producer, announced in 2015 that it would eliminate the use of
human antibiotics in its chicken production by 2017. This announcement came 1 month
after McDonald’s, one of Tyson’s largest customers, said it would no longer accept chick-
ens treated with antibiotics. Foster Farms, another major U.S. poultry producer, also agreed
to ban the use of antibiotics and pledged to introduce a line of organic poultry products.
“Our company is committed to responsible growing practices that help preserve the effec-
tiveness of antibiotics for human health and medicine,” said Foster Farms’ chief executive
Ron Foster.1

In this case, consumers’ and government agencies’ growing concerns about the overuse
of antibiotics led food producers to take positive action. This will likely improve people’s
health and benefit companies by increasing sales. Yet, as this chapter will show, companies
often ignore or mismanage public issues.

Public Issues

A public issue is any issue that is of mutual concern to an organization and one or more
of its stakeholders. (Public issues are sometimes also called social issues or sociopolitical
issues.) They are typically broad issues, often impacting many companies and groups,
and of concern to a significant number of people. Public issues are often contentious—
different groups may have different opinions about what should be done about them.
They often, but not always, have public policy or legislative implications.

The emergence of a new public issue—such as concerns over the presence of antibiotics
in our food and its impact on our health, mentioned in the opening example of this chapter—
often indicates there is a gap between what the firm wants to do or is doing and what stake-
holders expect. Scholars have called this the performance–expectations gap. Stakeholder
expectations are a mixture of people’s opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about what consti-
tutes reasonable business behavior. Managers and organizations have good reason to identify
emergent expectations as early as possible. Failure to understand stakeholder concerns and to
respond appropriately will permit the performance–expectations gap to grow: the larger the
gap, the greater the risk of stakeholder backlash or of missing a major business opportunity.
The performance–expectations gap is pictured in Figure 2.1.

Emerging public issues are both a risk and an opportunity. They are a risk because
issues that firms do not anticipate and plan for effectively can seriously hurt a company.

1 “Antibiotics Eliminated in Hatchery, Perdue Says,” The New York Times, September 3, 2014,; “Meat
Companies Go Antibiotics-Free as More Consumers Demand It,” The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2014,;
“Tyson to End Use of Human Antibiotics in Its Chickens by 2017,” The New York Times, April 28, 2015,; and,
“Foster Farms to Eliminate Human Antibiotics in Poultry,” The New York Times, June 1, 2015,

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26 Part One Business in Society

On the other hand, correctly anticipating the emergence of a public issue can confer a com-
petitive advantage, as the following example shows.

In the wake of serious outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and other food-
borne pathogens, firms that moved quickly to address public concerns about food
safety prospered. For example, a company called iFoodDecisionSciences developed
mobile applications to help food producers collect and analyze data and receive
instant alerts about hazards. By 2015, iFood—founded just two years earlier—had
attracted more than a dozen clients, including growers that supplied Walmart and
Chipotle Mexican Grill. “Food companies are hungry for help right now,” said the
company’s chief executive.2

Understanding and responding to changing societal expectations is a business neces-
sity. As Mark Moody-Stuart, former managing director of Royal Dutch/Shell, put it in an
interview, “Communication with society. . . is a commercial matter, because society is your
customers. It is not a soft and wooly thing, because society is what we depend on for our
living. So we had better be in line with its wishes, its desires, its aspirations, its dreams.”3

Every company faces many public issues. Some emerge over a long period of time;
others emerge suddenly. Some are predictable; others are completely unexpected. Some
companies respond effectively; others do not. Consider the following recent examples of
public issues and companies’ responses:

∙ Executive compensation: In 2013, Swiss voters passed some of the world’s most severe
restrictions on executive and board members’ compensation. The measure was opposed
by banks and other multinational companies, who argued that these actions would seri-
ously damage the country’s business-friendly climate. But advocates called for greater
control over the “ridiculous backdoor deals” that characterized executive compensation

2 “When E. coli Becomes a Business Opportunity,” The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2015,
3 Interview conducted by Anne T. Lawrence, “Shell Oil in Nigeria,” interactive online case published by

The Performance–
Expectations Gap


(What stakeholders

(What actually








l a





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in this country. Firms that violated these new rules face fines worth as much as their
salaries for 6 years and up to 3 years in prison.

∙ Consumer safety: Keurig Green Mountain recalled more than 7 million hot beverage-
brewing machines in the United States and Canada after the firm discovered that they
could overheat and cause injury by spraying users with hot liquid. The defect occurred
most often when a user attempted to brew more than two cups in quick succession.
The company reported receiving 90 burn-related injury reports and about 200 reports
of hot liquid escaping from the brewing machines.

∙ Race relations: Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz was a long-time advocate of bringing
discussions of social issues into his stores, from health care to gun ownership, so few
were surprised when he asked his baristas to write “Race Relations” on customers’
cups. Schultz hoped that this would spur conversations about racial inequality and jus-
tice in the aftermath of a number of incidents across the country involving white police
officers and black citizens. A week later, after strong criticism from various community
leaders, Starbucks’ CEO asked his employees to stop this practice, which he said he
intended to do after one week regardless of the public criticism.4

Whether the focus is executive compensation, consumer safety, or race relations, soci-
ety has increased its demands that businesses take on important public issues and become
more involved in addressing them. A survey of Millennials (people born between 1977 and
1994) was conducted in 2014 and found that four out of five Millennials “need (not just
want) business to get involved in addressing social issues and believe business can make a
greater impact.” One Millennial from China explained: “Compared to governments, busi-
nesses have the potential and the possibility to make real change in society happen faster
and more efficiently. Businesses have the resources—from financial means, collective
intelligence to technology—to contribute and make a difference.”5

Environmental Analysis

As new public issues arise, businesses must respond. Organizations need a systematic way
of identifying, monitoring, and selecting public issues that warrant organizational action
because of the risks or opportunities they present. Organizations rarely have full control of
a public issue because of the many factors involved. But it is possible for the organization
to create a management system that identifies and monitors issues as they emerge.

To identify those public issues that require attention and action, a firm needs a frame-
work for seeking out and evaluating environmental information. (In this context, environ-
mental means outside the organization; in Chapters 9 and 10, the term refers to the natural
environment.) Environmental analysis is a method managers use to gather information
about external issues and trends, so they can develop an organizational strategy that mini-
mizes threats and takes advantage of new opportunities.

Environmental intelligence is the acquisition of information gained from analyzing the
multiple environments affecting organizations. Acquiring this information may be done
informally or as a formal management process. If done well, this environmental intelli-
gence can help an organization avoid crises and spot opportunities.

4 “Showdown on Executive Compensation in Switzerland,” The New York Times, March 1, 2013,; “Keurig
Recalls More Than 7 Million Brewing Machines in North America,” The New York Times, December 23, 2014, www.nytimes.
com; and, “Starbucks Ends Key Phase in ‘Race Together’ Campaign,” The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2015,
5 The Future of Business Citizenship, People’s Insights Magazine,

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28 Part One Business in Society

According to management scholar Karl Albrecht, scanning to acquire environmental
intelligence should focus on eight strategic radar screens.6 Radar is an instrument that uses
microwave radiation to detect and locate distant objects, which are often displayed on a
screen; law enforcement authorities use radar, for example, to track the speed of passing
cars. Albrecht uses the analogy of radar to suggest that companies must have a way of
tracking important developments that are outside of their immediate view. He identifies
eight different environments that managers must systematically follow. These are shown in
Figure 2.2 and described next.

∙ Customer environment includes the demographic factors, such as gender, age, marital
status, and other factors, of the organization’s customers as well as their social values
or preferences, buying preferences, and technology usage. For example, the explosion
of social media has created opportunities for creating new marketing approaches that
provide potential consumers with coupons or sales information on their smartphones as
they leave their car and walk toward the retail store.

∙ Competitor environment includes information on the number and strength of the orga-
nization’s competitors, whether they are potential or actual allies, patterns of aggressive
growth versus static maintenance of market share, and the potential for customers to
become competitors if they “insource” products or services previously purchased from the
organization. (This environment is discussed further in the next section of this chapter.)

6 Adapted from Karl Albrecht, Corporate Radar: Tracking the Forces That Are Shaping Your Business (New York: American
Management Association, 2000).

Eight Strategic
Radar Screens

Source: Karl A. Albrecht,
Corporate Radar: Tracking the
Forces That Are Shaping Your
Business (New York: American
Management Association,











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∙ Economic environment includes information about costs, prices, international trade,
and any other features of the economic environment. The severe recession that hit the
world’s economy in the late 2000s greatly shifted the behavior of customers, suppli-
ers, creditors, and other stakeholders, dramatically impacting decision making in many

∙ Technological environment includes the development of new technologies and their
applications affecting the organization, its customers, and other stakeholder groups.
Faster access to information through cell phones, tablets, and other handheld electronic
devices changed how people around the world were alerted to the devastation of natural
disasters or terrorist actions and how they could be contacted regarding new job open-
ings or the launching of innovative consumer products.

∙ Social environment includes cultural patterns, values, beliefs, trends, and conflicts
among the people in the societies where the organization conducts business or might
conduct business. Issues of civil or human rights, family values, and the roles of spe-
cial interest groups are important elements in acquiring intelligence from the social

∙ Political environment includes the structure, processes, and actions of all levels of
government—local, state, national, and international. Awareness of the stability or
instability of governments and their inclination or disinclination to pass laws and reg-
ulations is essential environmental intelligence for the organization. The emergence of
strict environmental laws in Europe—including requirements to limit waste and provide
for recycling at the end of a product’s life—have caused firms all over the world that sell
to Europeans to rethink how they design and package their products.

∙ Legal environment includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and considerations of intel-
lectual property, as well as antitrust considerations and trade protectionism and orga-
nizational liability issues. China’s commitment to triple its patent filings from nearly
1 million in 2013 to 3 million by 2020 sent shock waves through the global business

∙ Geophysical environment relates to awareness of the physical surroundings of the orga-
nization’s facilities and operations, whether it is the organization’s headquarters or its
field offices and distribution centers, and the organization’s dependency and impact on
natural resources such as minerals, water, land, or air. Growing concerns about global
warming and climate change, for example, have caused many firms to seek to improve
their energy efficiency.

The eight strategic radar screens represent a system of interrelated segments, each one
connected to and influencing the others.

Companies do not become experts in acquiring environmental intelligence overnight.
New attitudes have to be developed, new routines learned, and new policies and action pro-
grams designed. Many obstacles must be overcome in developing and implementing the
effective scanning of the business environments. Some are structural, such as the report-
ing relationships between groups of managers; others are cultural, such as changing tradi-
tional ways of doing things. In addition, the dynamic nature of the business environments
requires organizations to continually evaluate their environmental scanning procedures.

Competitive Intelligence
One of the eight environments discussed by Albrecht is the competitor environment. The
term competitive intelligence refers to the systematic and continuous process of gathering,
analyzing, and managing external information about the organization’s competitors that

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30 Part One Business in Society

can affect the organization’s plans, decisions, and operations. (As discussed in Chapter 1,
competitors may be considered a nonmarket stakeholder of business.) The acquisition of
this information benefits an organization by helping it better understand what other compa-
nies in its industry are doing. Competitive intelligence enables managers in companies of
all sizes to make informed decisions ranging from marketing, research and development,
and investing tactics to long-term business strategies. “During difficult times, excellent
competitive intelligence can be the differentiating factor in the marketplace,” explained
Paul Meade, vice president of the research and consulting firm Best Practices. “Companies
that can successfully gather and analyze competitive information, then implement strategic
decisions based on that analysis, position themselves to be ahead of the pack.”7

However, the quest for competitors’ information can also raise numerous ethical issues.
Businesses may overstep ethical and legal boundaries when attempting to learn as much as
they can about their competitors, as the following example shows.

ShaveLogic Inc., a Dallas company specializing in wet shaving products, was
increasingly worried about new technological advances developed by one of its
primary competitors, Procter & Gamble, owner of the Gillette brand of shavers.
ShaveLogic often recruited and hired Gillette employees, reportedly to obtain its
competitor’s trade secrets. In 2015, Procter & Gamble sued four former employees
and ShaveLogic, claiming that the former employees provided ShaveLogic with
confidential information about future Gillette products they developed while work-
ing at Gillette. Procter & Gamble also alleged that ShaveLogic took the information
provided by its former employees and received a patent based on this information.8

As the example above indicates, the perceived value of trade secrets or other informa-
tion may be so great that businesses or their employees may be tempted to use unethical
or illegal means to obtain such information (or provide it to others). However, competitive
intelligence acquired ethically remains one of the most valued assets sought by businesses.
A business must balance the importance of acquiring information about its competitors’
practices with the need to comply with all applicable laws, domestic and international,
and to follow the professional standards of fairness and honesty. Disclosure of all relevant
information prior to conducting an interview and avoidance of conflicts of interest are just
a few of the ethical guidelines promoted by the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence
Professional’s code of ethics.9

Stakeholder Materiality
After the many environments are scanned, a company needs to evaluate and prioritize the
impact that its stakeholders and their issues may have on the company. The importance
attributed to a stakeholder is often referred to as materiality. Stakeholder materiality is an
adaptation of an accounting term that focuses on the importance or significance of some-
thing. In this case, it describes a method used to prioritize the relevance of the stakeholders
and their issues to the company.

Sonoco, a global provider of packaging products and services, completed its first
stakeholder materiality assessment of economic, environmental, and social issues in
2014. The company began by identifying potential stakeholders and created a list of

7 See Best Practices report at
8 “Gillette Sues Former Employees for Allegedly Sharing Secrets,” Boston Globe, January 16, 2015,
9 For information about the professional association focusing on competitive intelligence, particularly with attention to ethical
considerations, see the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals’ website at

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nine stakeholders: customers, suppliers, peers, shareholders, nongovernmental
organizations, community leaders, government regulators, employees, and leader-
ship. The company then searched various sources for information on each stake-
holder, such as websites, corporate social responsibility reports, mission statements,
and 10-K filings, to create a list of issues. They used a four-point scale to rate each
stakeholder from low to high based on the significance of the issue to the stake-
holder. This scoring system enabled Sonoco to identify highly influential stake-
holder groups as having the greatest potential impact on the company’s strategic
objectives or those stakeholders most influenced by the company’s operations.10

After the information is collected, it needs to be analyzed and placed on a matrix that
shows the importance of the issue for the stakeholder and the importance of the issue
assigned by the company. This evaluation allows the company to prioritize their attention
on issues in the quadrant showing issues of importance to stakeholders and the company.
An example of such a matrix representing stakeholder materiality at Symantec is shown in
Figure 2.3.

The Issue Management Process
Once a company has identified a public issue and detects a gap between society’s expec-
tations and its own practices, what are its next steps? Proactive companies do not wait for
something to happen; they actively manage issues as they arise. The process of doing so
is called issue management. The issue management process, illustrated in Figure 2.4, has
five steps or stages. Each of these steps is explained below, using the example of McDon-
alds’s response to allegations of harming customers by using spoiled meat in its more
than 2,000 restaurants in China. Although McDonald’s was a key target in the Chinese

10 Information from Sonoco’s website,

The Stakeholder
Materiality Matrix

Source: From Symantec’s
jsp?id=priority_issues. Used
with permission.

Energy &

Diversity &
Inclusion Employee


Management Securing



Health &
Safety Community






Public Policy


Priority for Symantec










Materials Use

Water Use



Business Continuity



Branding &

CR Mngt

Green IT

Low High

2014 Priority Matrix Key Our People The World Your information

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32 Part One Business in Society

government’s investigation of food safety, the firm was well positioned to take action and
move ahead of its competitors. As this example also illustrates, even a strong corporate
response does not completely close an issue, as it may arise again in a new form.

Identify Issue
Issue identification involves anticipating emerging concerns, sometimes called “horizon
issues” because they seem to be just coming up over the horizon like the first morning sun.
Sometimes managers become aware of issues by carefully tracking the media, experts’ views,
activist opinion, and legislative developments to identify issues of concern to the public.
Normally, this requires attention to all eight of the environments described in Figure 2.2.
Organizations often use techniques of data searching, media analysis, and public surveys to
track ideas, themes, and issues that may be relevant to their interests all over the world. They
also rely on ongoing conversations with key stakeholders. Sometimes the firm is completely
unaware of the issue before it emerges and must attempt to respond to lawsuits, protests by
activists, or government allegations, as McDonald’s experienced in China.

In 2014, McDonald’s was surprised to learn that the Chinese government had initi-
ated an investigation of the Shanghai Husi Food Group, which alleged supplied
expired meat to McDonald’s and other restaurants. McDonald’s had a long-standing
relationship with Shanghai Husi. In 1955, when McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc
wanted to expand his hamburger restaurant chain across the United States, he part-
nered with Otto & Sons, Inc., a family-owned meat supplier located in Chicago. This
relationship continued to grow for decades as Otto & Sons became a leading meat
supplier for many of the world’s largest fast-food chains, eventually becoming the OSI
Group, Inc. Shanghai Husi Food Company was a subsidiary of the OSI Group. Until
the 2014 incident, McDonald’s had known of no violations of Chinese government
standards for product quality when sourcing meat from the OSI Group subsidiary.11

11 “China Meat Supplier ‘Appalled’ by Allegations,” The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2014,

The Issue
Management Process IDENTIFY






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The allegations of tainted food caught McDonald’s by surprise, and the company
announced an immediate investigation. A McDonald’s spokesperson said the company
was appalled by the allegations and apologized to its customers.

Analyze Issue
Once an issue has been identified, its implications must be analyzed. Organizations must
understand how the issue is likely to evolve, and how it is likely to affect them. For each
company, the ramifications of the issue will be different.

Understanding how the quality of meat at McDonald’s Chinese restaurants affected
McDonald’s global reputation was complex. On one hand, the company was concerned
about the public’s safety, and did not want customers to become ill if they consumed
expired meat at their restaurants. On the other hand, McDonald’s had a long-standing rela-
tionship with the OSI Group and relied on this company for high-quality food products for
its restaurants globally. McDonald’s knew it had to analyze the issue quickly and be ready
to make major changes if a new supplier was needed.

As soon as McDonald’s heard of the Chinese government’s investigation into Shang-
hai Husi Food Company, the company began a rigorous, in-house product quality
comparison, analyzing meat supplied by OSI with meat provided by other suppliers
for other locations. Although McDonald’s never publicly reported any product qual-
ity problems with OSI-supplied meat, the company pledged to fully cooperate with
the government agencies’ investigations into this issue. The company’s spokesperson
said that if the practices described in media reports were confirmed, they would be
“completely unacceptable to McDonald’s.” McDonald’s also tried to reassure its
customers. In a press release, the company said, “We reiterate that all the food sold
at McDonald’s restaurants conform to the food safety standards.”12

Generate Options
An issue’s public profile indicates to managers how significant an issue is for the organi-
zation, but it does not tell them what to do. The next step in the issue management process
involves generating, evaluating, and selecting among possible options. This requires com-
plex judgments that incorporate ethical considerations, the organization’s reputation and
good name, and other nonquantifiable factors.

McDonald’s was faced with a number of possible actions: continue using meat
supplied by the Shanghai Husi Food Company until government investigations
revealed that the meat failed to meet government standards, continue to use the OSI
Group as its meat supplier but shift orders to other OSI facilities in China, or look
for a new regional meat supplier and cancel all orders from the OSI Group.

Unlike the response from other Chinese fast-food restaurants (like Yum Brands
who cancelled all orders from the OSI Group), McDonald’s announced that it was
sticking with its long-time meat supplier. Although the company’s internal inspec-
tions confirmed that its meat products met government standards, McDonald’s
switched its orders from the Shanghai Husi Food Company to other OSI factories
in China. A retired McDonald’s executive said of the OSI Group, “they were one of
our most trusted suppliers. They were a model of integrity.”13

12 McDonald’s Stands by Meat Supplier in Crisis,” The Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2014,
13 McDonald’s Stands by Meat Supplier in Crisis,” The Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2014,; and “McDonald’s
Suspends Sales of Chicken Nuggets in Hong Kong,” The New York Times, July 25, 2014,

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34 Part One Business in Society

Selecting an appropriate response often involves a creative process of considering various
alternatives and rigorously evaluating them to see how they work in practice.

Take Action
Once an option has been chosen, the organization must design and implement a plan of
action. Sometimes there may be unintended consequences from the actions undertaken by
the company.

The immediate change in meat suppliers for its Chinese locations resulted in disrup-
tions to the inventories at various McDonald’s restaurants. The company reported
that it had run out of hamburgers and chicken nuggets, angering its customers, and
had tried to encourage customers to purchase fish sandwiches. One customer com-
mented, “A hamburger restaurant that doesn’t have hamburgers; it’s pretty funny.”
These shortages and a delayed government investigation eventually led to McDon-
ald’s reconsidering the decision to retain its long-time relationship with the OSI
Group. But, McDonald’s also realized that it would take time to perform due dili-
gence on alternative suppliers and be able to guarantee the high quality of the meat
products previously provided by the OSI Group

In September 2014, six weeks after the allegations of expired meat being sold to its
customers in China, McDonald’s announced it was overhauling its food-safety strat-
egy in China. The company planned to review surveillance video from its suppliers’
meat-production sites and boost the number of audits of its suppliers. More than half of
the audits would be unannounced and conducted by third-party auditors and McDon-
ald’s management teams. Others would be conducted by the suppliers’ own auditors.

McDonald’s also reported that it would create anonymous hotlines for suppliers
and their employees to report unethical or noncompliant practices and dispatched
quality-control specialists to all of McDonald’s meat-production faculties in China.
Finally, the company appointed Cindy Jiang, McDonald’s senior director of global
food safety, as the first new head of national food safety in China. Jiang reported
directly to McDonald’s chief executive officer.14

Evaluate Results
Once an organization has implemented the issue management program, it must continue
to assess the results and make adjustments if necessary. Many managers see issue manage-
ment as a continuous process, rather than one that comes to a clear conclusion.

In January 2015, McDonald’s chief financial officer Peter Bensen reported, “it will
take at least three to six more months for business in China to return to normal.”
The company was hurt by growing consumer worries after a human tooth, plastic
pieces, and other objects were found in food in McDonald’s restaurants in Japan
and lawsuits were filed against McDonald’s in Russia after that country’s consumer
safety regulator accused McDonald’s of alleged violations of consumer safety and
labeling regulations. In the months following the scandal in China, McDonald’s
sales fell more than 12 percent in Asia, despite a slight rise in sales in the United
States and Europe.15

14 “McDonald’s Faces Shortages at Some China Outlets,” The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2014,; “McDonald’s
Could Reconsider Its Relationship with Supplier OSI in China,” The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2014,; and
“McDonald’s Overhauls Food-Safety Strategy in China,” The Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2014,
15 “Food Scares Cost McDonald’s in China, Japan; Sales Fall,” Yahoo! Finance, February 9, 2015,; and
“Russia’s Food Regulator Files Suit against McDonald’s,” The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2014,

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This example illustrates the complexity of the issue management process. Figure 2.4 is
deliberately drawn in the form of a loop. When working well, the issue management pro-
cess continuously cycles back to the beginning and repeats, pulling in more information,
generating more options, and improving programmatic response. Such was the case with
the concern over safety for McDonald’s customers in China. McDonald’s was committed
to addressing the issue and knew that it needed to monitor the progress being made with its
suppliers to fully address an emerging public issue.

Contemporary issue management is truly an interactive process, as forward-thinking
companies must continually engage in a dialogue with their stakeholders about issues that
matter, as McDonald’s has learned. McDonald’s reached out to government investigators,
established open communications with its consumers through the media, and were engaged
in extensive discussions with its suppliers. New challenges may emerge from anywhere in
the world and at any time. Managers must not only implement programs, but continue to
reassess their actions to be consistent with both ethical practices and long-term survival.

Organizing for Effective Issue Management

Who manages public issues? What departments and people are involved? There is no sim-
ple answer to this question. Figure 1.5, presented in Chapter 1, showed that the modern
corporation has many boundary-spanning departments. Which part of the organization is
mobilized to address a particular emerging issue often depends on the nature of the issue
itself. For example, if the issue has implications for public policy or government regula-
tions, the public affairs or government relations department may take a leadership role.
(The public affairs department is further discussed in Chapter 8.) If the issue is an environ-
mental one, the department of sustainability or environment, health, and safety may take
on this role. Some companies combine multiple issue management functions in an office
of external relations or corporate affairs. The following example illustrates how one com-
pany has organized to manage emerging public issues.

At Publix, the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the United States, the coor-
dination of public issues is handled by six different, yet related, teams: corporate
communications, customer care, government relations, media and community rela-
tions, social media, and special projects. The corporate communications team han-
dles a wide array of internal communications, including an eight-page monthly
newsletter, Publix News. When customers contact the company with a potential
public issue, the customer care team responds to resolve customer concerns and
answer customer questions. If the public issue has a governmental element, then the
government relations team is organized to communicate with federal, state, and
local officials regarding matters affecting the company’s ability to effectively com-
pete in the marketplace. Each division within the company has a media and com-
munity relations team who interacts with the news media and the communities
served by the company to address any public issue. A social media team at Publix
uses Facebook, Twitter, and other channels to monitor and handle any emerging
public issues. And, finally, the special projects team preserves and promotes the
company’s history as an important part of the Publix culture. The company relies
on its tradition to guide responses to public issues as they arise.16

A corporation’s issue management activities are usually linked to both the board of
directors and to top management levels, because of their increasing importance. The
16 See the Publix Company website at

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36 Part One Business in Society

Foundation for Public Affairs reported the early 2010s that “70 percent of business execu-
tives say public affairs already plays an increasingly important or very important strategic
role in their firms.” Another 14 percent said that it was becoming more important. Despite
widespread corporate budget cuts due to the recession, 80 percent of the corporate execu-
tives surveyed by the Foundation for Public Affairs reported that their firm’s budgets for
public issues had increased or remained the same following the economic recession of
the mid-2000s.17 One award-winning example of an exemplary corporate response to an
important public issue is described in Exhibit 2.A.

What kinds of managers are best able to anticipate and respond effectively to emerging
public issues? What skill sets are required? The European Academy of Business in Soci-
ety (EABIS) undertook a major study of leaders in companies participating in the United
Nations Global Compact. (This initiative is a set of basic principles covering labor, human
rights, and environmental standards, to which companies can voluntarily commit.) The
researchers were interested in the knowledge and skills required of what they called the
“global leader of tomorrow.”

They found that effective global leadership on these public issues required three basic
capabilities. The first was an understanding of the changing business context: emerging
environmental and social trends affecting the firm. The second was an ability to lead in
the face of complexity. Many emerging issues, the researchers found, were surrounded by
ambiguity; to deal with them, leaders needed to be flexible, creative, and willing to learn
from their mistakes. The final capability was connectedness: the ability to engage with
external stakeholders in dialogue and partnership. Although more than three-fourths of
executives polled said that these skills were important, only 7 percent said their organiza-
tion was developing them very effectively.18

Stakeholder Engagement

One of the key themes of this book is that companies that actively engage with stakeholders
do a better job of managing a wide range of issues than companies that do not. The term stake-
holder engagement is used to refer to this process of ongoing relationship building between
a business and its stakeholders. In the McDonald’s example presented earlier in this chapter,
the company’s challenge was to engage with its various stakeholder groups, consumers, the
media, government agencies, suppliers, and others in addressing an emerging issue of food
product quality. This section will further explore the various forms the business–stakeholder
relationship takes, when stakeholder engagement is likely to occur, what drives this engage-
ment, and the expanding role assumed by social media in stakeholder engagement.

Stages in the Business–Stakeholder Relationship
Over time, the nature of business’s relationship with its stakeholders often evolves through
a series of stages. Scholars have characterized these stages as inactive, reactive, proactive,
and interactive, with each stage representing a deepening of the relationship. Sometimes,
companies progress through this sequence from one stage to the next; other companies
remain at one stage or another, or move backward in the sequence.19

17 “Public Affairs Goes Mainstream,” Public Affairs Council, January 13, 2012, pac/org/blog.
18 European Academy of Business in Society, Developing the Global Leader of Tomorrow (United Kingdom: Ashridge,
December 2008). Based on a global survey of 194 CEOs and senior executives in September–October 2008.
19 This typology was first introduced in Lee Preston and James E. Post, Private Management and Public Policy (Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1975). For a more recent discussion, see Sandra Waddock, Leading Corporate Citizens: Visions,
Values, and Value Added, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), ch. 1.

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DuPont and Global Food Security

The DuPont Company, a global leader in food production, nutrition, and safety, received the 2013 W. Howard
Chase Award for its role in addressing the growing issue of global food safety. DuPont took seriously the
challenge of feeding the world’s population, in spite of sharp disagreements among governments, public
policy leaders, and corporations about how best to do so. The firm felt “a responsibility to provide leadership
and act as a catalyst for bringing together the global food security influencer community” to raise awareness
of the issue and build collaborations that would help ensure global food security. DuPont adopted a set of
Food Security Goals that committed, by the end of 2020, to invest $10 billion to develop 4,000 new prod-
ucts. These would be designed to increase food production, enhance nutrition, promote sustainability and
safety, boost food availability and shelf life, and reduce waste. The company also said it would educate two
million young people around the world on the importance of food safety and nutrition. Finally, DuPont set
out to improve the livelihoods of at least three million farmers and their rural communities through targeted
collaboration and investments to strengthen agricultural systems and make food more available, nutritious,
and culturally appropriate.

Source: “The W. Howard Chase Award—2013,” Issue Management Council,

Exhibit 2.A

∙ Inactive companies simply ignore stakeholder concerns. These firms may believe—often
incorrectly—that they can make decisions unilaterally, without taking into consideration
their impact on others. Executives at Home Depot failed to listen to their employees’
concerns about potential breaches of the company’s data security systems and later
experienced the theft of detailed consumer information from 56 million credit and debit
cards. Their inactive response was costly: according to some estimates, the information
from the stolen cards could be used to make $3 billion in illegal purchases.20

∙ Companies that adopt a reactive posture generally act only when forced to do so, and
then in a defensive manner. For example, in the film A Civil Action, based on a true
story, W. R. Grace (a company that was later bought by Beatrice Foods) allegedly
dumped toxic chemicals that leaked into underground wells used for drinking water,
causing illness and death in the community of Woburn, Massachusetts. The company
paid no attention to the problem until forced to defend itself in a lawsuit brought by a
crusading lawyer on behalf of members of the community.

∙ Proactive companies try to anticipate stakeholder concerns. These firms use environ-
mental scanning practices to identify emerging public issues. They often have special-
ized departments such as those at Publix, described earlier in the chapter. These firms
are much less likely to be blindsided by crises and negative surprises. Stakeholders and
their concerns are still, however, considered a problem to be managed, rather than a
source of competitive advantage.

∙ Finally, an interactive stance means that companies actively engage with stakeholders
in an ongoing relationship of mutual respect, openness, and trust. For example, in an
effort to address continuing high unemployment rates, Starbucks teamed with Oppor-
tunity Finance Network, a group of community development financial institutions, to
launch “Create Jobs for USA.” Donations from Starbucks customers, employees, and
others were pooled into a nationwide fund to promote community business lending. In
2014 the focus expanded to include veterans with a goal of employing 10,000 veterans
and active duty spouses by 2018.21

20 See
21 These programs are profiled in Starbucks’ Global Responsibility Report at

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38 Part One Business in Society

Firms with this approach recognize that positive stakeholder relationships are a source
of value and competitive advantage for the company. They know that these relationships
must be nurtured over time.

Drivers of Stakeholder Engagement
When are companies most likely to engage with stakeholders, that is, to be at the interac-
tive stage? What drives companies to go beyond an inactive or a reactive stage to a proac-
tive or interactive stage of stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholder engagement is, at its core, a relationship. The participation of a business
organization and at least one stakeholder organization is necessary, by definition, to consti-
tute engagement. In one scholar’s view, engagement is most likely when both the company
and its stakeholders both have an urgent and important goal, the motivation to participate,
and the organizational capacity to engage with one another. These three elements are pre-
sented in Figure 2.5.


For stakeholder engagement to occur, both the business and the stakeholder must have
a problem that they want solved. The problem must be both important and urgent (the
concept of stakeholder materiality was discussed earlier in this chapter). Business is often
spurred to act when it recognizes a gap between its actions and public expectations, as
discussed earlier. The company may perceive this gap as a reputational crisis or a threat to
its license to operate in society. For their part, stakeholders are typically concerned about
an issue important to them—whether child labor, animal cruelty, environmental harm, or
something else—that they want to see addressed.


Both sides must also be motivated to work with one another to solve the problem. For
example, the company may realize that the stakeholder group has technical expertise to
help it address an issue. Or, it needs the stakeholder’s approval, because the stakeholder is
in a position to influence policymakers, damage a company’s reputation, or bring a law-
suit. Stakeholders may realize that the best way actually to bring about change is to help a
company alter its behavior. In other words, both sides depend on each other to accomplish
their goals; they cannot accomplish their objectives on their own. (Theorists sometimes
refer to this as interdependence.)

Company Stakeholders(s)

Goal To improve corporate reputation;
to earn a license to operate;
to win approval of society

To change corporate behavior
on an issue of concern

Motivation Needs stakeholder involvement
because of their expertise or
control of critical resources

Governmental campaigns,
protest perceived as inadequate
to change corporate behavior

Organizational capacity Top leaders committed to
engagement; well-funded
department of external
(stakeholder) affairs

Experienced staff; core group
of activists committed to
dialogue with business

Drivers of

Source: Adapted from Anne
T. Lawrence, “The Drivers
of Stakeholder Engagement:
Reflections on the Case of
Royal Dutch/Shell, Journal of
Corporate Citizenship, Summer
2002, pp. 71–85.

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Organizational Capacity

Each side must have the organizational capacity to engage the other in a productive dia-
logue. For the business, this may include support from top leadership and an adequately
funded external affairs or comparable department with a reporting relationship to top
executives. It may also include an issue management process that provides an opportunity
for leaders to identify and respond quickly to shifts in the external environment. For the
stakeholder, this means a leadership or a significant faction that supports dialogue and
individuals or organizational units with expertise in working with the business community.

In short, engagement is most likely to occur where both companies and stakeholders
perceive an important and urgent problem, see each other as essential to a solution, and
have the organizational capacity to interact with one another.

The Role of Social Media in Stakeholder Engagement
Social media plays an increasingly important role in businesses’ effort to address public
issues and engage stakeholders. Beyond the common use of social media as an advertising
tool, many companies now use social networks to identify and solve problems faster, share
information better among their employees and partners, and bring customers’ ideas for
new product designs to market earlier. They have also redesigned all kinds of corporate
software in a Facebook-like easy-to-learn style. “At a very basic level, Facebook is the
most popular application ever, with a billion people who know how to use it,” said Marc
Benioff, chief executive at, whose Chatter social-networking tools were
used by more than 150,000 companies by 2013. Forrester Research reported that sales of
software to run corporate social networks grew by 61 percent from 2011 to 2012 and were
projected to top $6 billion by 2016. Two-thirds of large businesses used Web 2.0 tools,
such as social networks or blogs, according to a McKinsey & Company survey. These
tools enabled businesses to connect with employees and serve their customers better, as the
following examples show.

When the restaurant chain Red Robin planned to introduce its new Tavern Double
burger, the firm turned to social media to bring together hundreds of its store man-
agers for speedy communication. The firm created an internal social network that
resembled Facebook to teach its managers everything from the recipes to the fastest
way to make the burger. Instead of mailing out spiral-bound notebooks, getting
feedback during the executives’ sporadic store visits, and taking six months to act
on advice from the store employees, the social media network discussion and video
sharing produced results in just a few days.

SuperValu, a national supermarket chain, constructed a social network system to
link its 11,000 executives and store managers. Nearly 200 managers joined a social
media group to discuss a common problem for stores in college towns. Rather than
coming together for a meeting or retreat, common in the past, these managers dis-
cussed the problem of inconsistent seasonal sales to college students and came upon
a new promotion: to place $99 worth of store coupons in the $99 mini-refrigerators
they sold, a popular item for college students living in dorm rooms, to bring the stu-
dents back to the store to buy food and other items.22

As businesses and their public affairs managers have increasingly turned to social media
platforms to engage with multiple stakeholders, communication has become faster and
more effective.
22 “Social Media Is Reinventing How Business Is Done,” USA Today, May 16, 2012, Also see
“Report: 6 Ways Social Media Can Drive Business Impact,” Venture Beat, March 12, 2013,

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40 Part One Business in Society

Stakeholder Dialogue

The process of engaging with stakeholders can take many forms, but it often eventually
involves dialogue with stakeholders. One management theorist has defined dialogue as
“the art of thinking together.”23 In stakeholder dialogue, a business and its stakeholders
come together for face-to-face conversations about issues of common concern. There, they
attempt to describe their core interests and concerns, prepare a common definition of the
problem, invent innovative solutions for mutual gain, and establish procedures for imple-
menting solutions. To be successful, the process requires that participants express their
own views fully, listen carefully and respectfully to others, and open themselves to creative
thinking and new ways of looking at and solving a problem. The promise of dialogue is
that, together, they can draw on the understandings and concerns of all parties to develop
solutions that none of them, acting alone, could have envisioned or implemented.24

PacifiCorp is a major electric utility, serving customers throughout the Pacific
Northwest. In the 2000s, the company initiated the process of renewing the permits
for seven hydroelectric dams it operated on the Klamath River, a massive waterway
that ran 250 miles from Southern Oregon into Northern California and drained
a 13,000 square mile watershed before emptying into the Pacific. Renewing the
permits turned out to be highly contentious, as it impacted numerous stakeholders,
including state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, fishermen, environ-
mentalists, farmers, and recreational users, all with diverse interests. Finally, in
2010, after a lengthy collaborative process, the various stakeholders hammered out
an historic pact, called the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, to remove the
dams, restore habitat, and guarantee water for local farmers. PacifiCorp agreed to
the plan when it realized that bringing the dams up to modern standards (the oldest
had been built in 1903) would be more expensive than removing them. By 2014,
the Klamath Water Recover and Economic Restoration Act, which would enforce
the terms of the three Klamath Restoration Agreements, was still being considered
by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.25

Stakeholder Networks
Dialogue between a single firm and its stakeholders is sometimes insufficient to address an
issue effectively. Corporations sometimes encounter public issues that they can address effec-
tively only by working collaboratively with other businesses and concerned persons and orga-
nizations in stakeholder networks. One such issue that confronted Nike, Inc. was a growing
demand by environmentally aware consumers for apparel and shoes made from organic cotton.

Cotton, traditionally cultivated with large quantities of synthetic fertilizers, pesti-
cides, and herbicides, is one of the world’s most environmentally destructive crops.
In the late 1990s, in response both to consumer pressure and to its own internal
commitments, Nike began for the first time to incorporate organic cotton into its
sports apparel products. Its intention was to ramp up slowly, achieving 5 percent

23 William Isaacs, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together (New York: Doubleday, 1999).
24 This section draws on the discussion in Anne T. Lawrence and Ann Svendsen, The Clayoquot Controversy: A Stakeholder
Dialogue Simulation (Vancouver: Centre for Innovation in Management, 2002). The argument for the benefits of stakeholder
engagement is fully developed in Ann Svendsen, The Stakeholder Strategy: Profiting from Collaborative Business Relation-
ships (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1998).
25 Information about the Klamath Restoration Agreements can be found at

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Chapter 2 Managing Public Issues and Stakeholder Relationships 41

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organic content by 2010. However, the company soon encountered barriers to
achieving even these limited objectives. Farmers were reluctant to transition to
organic methods without a sure market, processors found it inefficient to shut down
production lines to clean them for organic runs, and banks were unwilling to loan
money for unproven technologies. The solution, it turned out, involved extensive
collaboration with groups throughout the supply chain—farmers, cooperatives,
merchants, processors, and financial institutions—as well as other companies that
were buyers of cotton, to facilitate the emergence of a global market for organic cot-
ton. By 2013, 88 percent of Nike’s cotton-containing apparel used at least 5 percent
organic cotton, down slightly from 90 percent in 2011. Nike reported in its 2013
environmental report that they are still committed to their goals, but it was taking
longer than expected for their cotton suppliers to make the transition.26

In this instance, Nike realized that in order to reach its objective, it would be necessary to
become involved in building a multiparty, international network of organizations with a
shared interest in the issue of organic cotton.

The Benefits of Engagement
Engaging interactively with stakeholders—whether through dialogue, network building, or
some other process—carries a number of potential benefits.27

Stakeholder organizations bring a number of distinct strengths. They are often aware of
shifts in popular sentiment before companies are, and are thus able to alert companies to
emerging issues. For example, as described earlier in this chapter, Perdue, Tyson Foods,
and Foster Farms removed antibiotics from their poultry products after growing health
concerns were raised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stakeholders
often operate in networks of organizations very different from the company’s; interacting
with them gives a firm access to information in these networks. Stakeholders often bring
technical or scientific expertise in their area of concern. Finally, when a stakeholder agrees
to work with a company on implementing a mutually agreed-upon solution, they can give
the resulting work greater legitimacy in the eyes of the public. For example, when Coca-
Cola partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and other nonprofit organizations to address
stakeholder concerns about the company’s impact on water quality and access—a story
told in the discussion case at the end of this chapter—their efforts were more believable to
many than if the company had undertaken this initiative on its own.

In short, stakeholder engagement can help companies learn about society’s expecta-
tions, draw on outside expertise, generate creative solutions, and win stakeholder support
for implementing them. It can also disarm or neutralize critics and improve a company’s
reputation for taking constructive action. On the other hand, corporations that do not
engage effectively with those their actions affect may be hurt. Their reputation may suffer,
their sales may drop, and they may be prevented from taking action. The need to respond to
stakeholders has only been heightened by the increased globalization of many businesses
and by the rise of technologies that facilitate fast communication on a worldwide scale.

Companies are learning that it is important to take a strategic approach to the man-
agement of public issues, both domestically and globally. This requires thinking ahead,

26 Nike’s description of its efforts is available online at and updates are available at www.nikeresponsi- This case is discussed in Ann C. Svendsen and Myriam Laberge, “Convening Stakeholder Networks: A New
Way of Thinking, Being, and Engaging,” Journal of Corporate Citizenship 19 (Autumn 2005), pp. 91–104.
27 The following paragraph is largely based on the discussion in Michael Yaziji and Jonathan Doh, NGOs and Corporations:
Conflict and Collaboration (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009), ch. 7, “Corporate-NGO Engagements: From
Conflict to Collaboration,” pp. 123–45.

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42 Part One Business in Society

understanding what is important to stakeholders, scanning the environment, and formu-
lating action plans to anticipate changes in the external environment. Effective issue man-
agement requires involvement both by professional staff and leaders at top levels of the
organization. It entails communicating across organizational boundaries, engaging with
the public, and working creatively with stakeholders to solve complex problems.

∙ A public issue is an issue that is of mutual concern to an organization and one or more
of the organization’s stakeholders. Stakeholders expect a level of performance by busi-
nesses, and if it is not met a gap between performance and expectation emerges. The
larger the gap, the greater risk of stakeholder backlash or missed business opportunity.

∙ The eight strategic radar screens (the customer, competitor, economic, technological,
social, political, legal, and geophysical environments) enable public affairs managers to
assess and acquire information regarding their business environments. Managers must also
assess the importance or materiality of public issues to the firm and their stakeholders.

∙ The issue management process includes identification and analysis of issues, the gener-
ation of options, action, and evaluation of the results.

∙ In the modern corporation, the issue management process takes place in many boundary-
spanning departments. Some firms have a department of external affairs or corporate
relations to coordinate these activities and top management support is essential for effec-
tive issue management.

∙ Stakeholder engagement involves building relationships between a business firm and
its stakeholders around issues of common concern and is enhanced by understanding
the goals, motivations, and organizational capacities relevant to the engagement. Social
media is playing a more expansive role in stakeholder engagement.

∙ Stakeholder dialogue is central to good stakeholder engagement, supported by network
building or partnerships.


Key Terms stakeholder dialogue, 40
stakeholder engagement, 36
materiality, 30
stakeholder networks, 40

intelligence, 29
analysis, 27
intelligence, 27

issue management, 31
issue management
process, 31
gap, 25
public issue, 25

Resources World News, Public Issues National Issues Forum United Nations, Global Issues Issue Management Council Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals World Future Society Global Issues The Millennium Project Council on Foreign Relations

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Discussion Case: Coca-Cola’s Water Neutrality Initiative

Since the 2000s, Coca-Cola has grappled with an emerging issue: its corporate impact on
water quality, availability, and access around the world.

In 2015, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) was the world’s largest beverage company.
The company operated in more than 200 countries, providing 1.8 billion servings a day of
more than 500 nonalcoholic beverage brands of water, enhanced water, juices and juice
drinks, ready-to-drink teas and coffees, and energy and sports drinks. The company also
partnered with more than 300 bottlers, independent companies that manufactured various
Coca-Cola products under franchise. Seventy percent of the company’s revenue came from
outside the United States.

Water was essential to Coca-Cola’s business. The company and its bottlers used around
82 billion gallons of water worldwide every year. Of this, about two-fifths went into fin-
ished beverages, and the rest was used in the manufacturing process—for example, to wash
bottles, clean equipment, and provide sanitation for employees. Water supplies were also
essential to the production of many ingredients in its products, such as sugar, corn, citrus
fruit, tea, and coffee. Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO put it bluntly when he commented
that unless the communities where the company operated had access to water, “we haven’t
got a business.”

In the mid-2000s, Coca-Cola was abruptly reminded of the impact of its water use on
local communities when the Center for Science and the Environment, a think tank in India,
charged that Coca-Cola products there contained dangerous levels of pesticide residues.
Other activists in India charged that the company’s bottling plants used too much water,
depriving local villagers of supplies for drinking and irrigation. Local officials shut down
a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the state of Kerala, saying it was depleting groundwater, and
an Indian court issued an order requiring soft-drink makers to list pesticide residues on
their labels. In the United States, the India Resource Center took up the cause, organizing
a grassroots campaign to convince schools and colleges to boycott Coca-Cola products.

Water was also emerging as a major concern to the world’s leaders. In the early 21st
century, more than 1 billion people worldwide lacked access to safe drinking water. Water
consumption was doubling every 20 years, an unsustainable rate of growth. By 2025, one-
third of the world’s population was expected to face acute water shortages. The secretary
general of the United Nations highlighted water stress as a major cause of disease, rising
food prices, and regional conflicts, and called on national governments and corporations to
take steps to address the issue.

Coca-Cola undertook a comprehensive study, surveying its global operations to assess
its water management practices and impacts. It also reached out to other stakeholders,
including the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the humanitarian organiza-
tion CARE, and various academic experts, to seek their advice. As the leader of TCCC’s
water stewardship initiative explained, the company also “sat down with each of our top
bottlers, all of our operating groups, and really walked through all aspects of water and
really understood where they were coming from and reached consensus though a very
deliberate process.”

In 2007, TCCC announced an aspirational goal of water neutrality, “to safely return to
nature and to communities an amount of water equal to what we use in all our beverages
and their production, by the year 2020.” This goal would be accomplished in three ways:
reduce, recycle, and replenish. The company said it would reduce its own use of water by
running its operations more efficiently. It would discharge water used in manufacturing
only if it were clean enough to support aquatic life—treating its wastewater itself where

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44 Part One Business in Society

local authorities were unable to do so. Finally, the company would replenish the balance
of the water it used (for example, as an ingredient in bottled beverages) by participating in
various water conservation projects globally, such as river conservation, rainwater collec-
tion, and efficient irrigation.

As the water neutrality initiative proceeded, Coca-Cola moved to measure and publicly
share its results. In 2011, the company reported that it had reduced its “water ratio” (the
number of gallons of water used per gallons of product produced) by 13 percent from
baseline levels. It estimated that 39 percent of its facilities were using recycled water, and
23 percent of the water used in finished products had been replenished through community
water projects.

The company also sought to measure the benefits of more than 300 partnerships with
governments and nonprofit organizations in 61 countries, ranging from building water
treatment facilities in Colombia, to restoring watersheds in Thailand, to improving sug-
arcane irrigation in Australia. Coca-Cola estimated in 2014 that they replenished 68 per-
cent of the volume of finished beverages to communities and nature. They also improved
water use efficiency for the eleventh straight year, with an 8 percent improvement since
2010. They worked with 2030 Water Resources Group, created in 2007, to address water
issues on a national level in different countries. In 2013, Coca-Cola invested $2 million
in this partnership to help countries like Jordan implement solutions to conserve water
by cutting costs and becoming more efficient. In 2012, Coca-Cola used the Ceres Aqua
Gauge tool to track the strengths and weaknesses of its program. With this tool’s help,
Coca-Cola changed its sustainability goals by redoubling its efforts on water efficiency
and announced in August 2015 that it expcted to meet its water replenishment goals by
2020—5 years earlier than anticipated.

Sources: The Coca-Cola Company 2013/2014 Sustainability Report, at; “Drinking It In: The
Evolution of a Global Water Stewardship Program at The Coca-Cola Company,” Business for Social Responsibility, March
2008; “Coca-Cola in India,” in Michael Yaziji and Jonathan Doh, NGOs and Corporations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 2009), pp. 115–19; and “Coca-Cola Expects to Reach Its Water Replenishment Goals 5 Years Early,” The New
York Times, Augusut 25, 2015,


1. What was the public issue facing The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in this case?
Describe the “performance–expectations gap” found in the case—what were the
stakeholders’ concerns, and how did their expectations differ from the company’s

2. If you applied the strategic radar screens model to this case, which of the eight environ-
ments would be most significant, and why?

3. Apply the issue management life cycle process model to this case. Which stages of the
process can you identify in this case?

4. How did TCCC use stakeholder engagement and dialogue to improve its response to
this issue, and what were the benefits of engagement to the company?

5. In your opinion, did TCCC respond appropriately to this issue? Why or why not?

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Corporate Social
Responsibility and
The idea that businesses bear broad responsibilities to society as they pursue economic goals is an
age-old belief. Both market and nonmarket stakeholders expect businesses to act responsibly, and
many companies have responded by making social goals a part of their overall business operations
and adopting the goal of being a good corporate citizen. Businesses embracing these responsibili-
ties often build positive relationships with stakeholders, discover business opportunities in serving
society, and transform a concern for financial performance into a vision of integrated financial and
social and environmental performance. Establishing effective structures and processes to meet a
company’s social and corporate citizenship responsibilities, assessing the results of these efforts, and
reporting on the firm’s performance to the public are important challenges facing today’s managers.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 3-1 Understanding the role of big business and the responsible use of corporate power in a democratic

LO 3-2 Knowing when the idea of corporate social responsibility originated and investigating how a
company’s purpose or mission can integrate social objectives with economic and legal objectives.

LO 3-3 Examining the key arguments for and against corporate social responsibility.

LO 3-4 Defining global corporate citizenship and recognizing the rapidly evolving management practices
to support global citizenship.

LO 3-5 Distinguishing among the sequential stages of global corporate citizenship.

LO 3-6 Understanding how businesses assess and report their social performance.

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46 Part One Business in Society

Do managers have a responsibility to their shareholders? Certainly they do, because the
owners of the business have invested their capital in the firm, exhibiting the ownership
theory of the firm presented in Chapter 1. Do managers also have a responsibility, a social
responsibility, to their company’s other market and nonmarket stakeholders—the people
who live where the firm operates, who purchase the firm’s product or service, or who work
for the firm? Does the stakeholder theory of the firm, described in detail in Chapter 1,
expand a firm’s obligations to include multiple stakeholders present in an interactive social
system? Generally, yes, but while managers may have a clear responsibility to respond to all
stakeholders, just how far should this responsibility go? Consider the following examples:

Starbucks Coffee Company launched a $70 million initiative to help coffee farming
communities around the world mitigate their climate change impacts and promote long-
term crop stability. This was just part of Starbucks’ ongoing billion-dollar commitment to
ethically sourcing 100 percent of its coffee by 2016. Starbucks transformed a 240-hectare
farm located on the slopes of the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica into a global agronomy
center, enabling the company to expand its Coffee and Farming Equity practices program
(C.A.F.E.). Starbucks’ chairman Howard Schultz said, “This investment, and the cumu-
lative impact it will have when combined with programs we have put into place over the
last forty years, will support the resiliency of coffee farmers and their families as well as
one million people that represent our collective coffee supply chain.”1

In 2015 consumer goods giant RB, formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser, part-
nered with Save The Children, an international charitable organization, to help
eradicate child deaths from diarrhea in India, Pakistan, and Nigeria. The company
helped develop two new hygiene and sanitation products aimed at preventing, con-
trolling, and treating the condition. The first product was a multipurpose soap bar
that could be used by families for cleaning and washing hands; the second product
was a toilet powder to make bathroom facilities more hygienic. RB reinvested all
revenues from the sale of these products in the Stop Diarrhea program, a partnership
with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. RB also insisted that the two new
products be produced locally, encouraging entrepreneurship, in addition to reducing
the overall carbon footprint and transport costs associated with their manufacture.2

Are the efforts described above examples of a corporation’s social responsibility and
citizenship? Do they represent a successful merger of social and economic objectives, or
do they represent inappropriate uses of corporate assets—finances, personnel, and prod-
ucts? How far should an organization go to help those in society in need of their support?
How much is too much?

This chapter describes the role business plays in society, introduces the concepts of cor-
porate social responsibility and global citizenship, and describes how businesses implement
them in practice. How organizations should balance their multiple responsibilities—
economic, legal, and social—and become a valued corporate citizen is an ongoing chal-
lenge. What are the advantages and drawbacks of being socially responsible? Should the
purpose or mission of the business integrate social objectives with economic objectives?
How does a business become a better corporate citizen; what steps are necessary? What
standards do businesses use to assess their social performance, and how do they report their
performance to stakeholders?

1 “Starbucks Expands $70 Million Ethical Sourcing Program with New Global Agronomy Center,” Fort Mills Times, March 19,
2 “RB and Save The Children Partner to Stop Children Dying of Diarrhoea,” Ethics Performance, 2015, ethicalperformance.

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Corporate Power and Responsibility

Undeniably, businesses, especially large corporations—whether by intention or accident,
and whether for good or evil—play a major role in all that occurs in society. The power
exerted by the world’s largest business organizations is obvious and enormous. This influ-
ence, termed corporate power, refers to the capability of corporations to influence govern-
ment, the economy, and society, based on their organizational resources.

One way to get a sense of the economic power of the world’s largest companies is to
compare them with nations. Figure 3.1 shows some leading companies alongside countries
whose total gross domestic product is about the same as these companies’ revenue. The
revenues of automaker Toyota Motor, for example, are about equal to the entire economic
output of Hong Kong; Walmart’s are about the size of the economy of Norway; and BP’s
are about the size of the economy of Denmark.

The size and global reach of major transnational corporations such as Walmart and the
others listed in Figure 3.1 give them tremendous power. Through their ever-present mar-
keting, they influence what people want and how they act around the world. We count on
corporations for job creation; much of our community well-being; the standard of living
we enjoy; the tax base for essential municipal, state, and national services; and our needs
for banking and financial services, insurance, transportation, communication, utilities,
entertainment, and a growing proportion of health care. These corporations have the
resources to make substantial contributions to political campaigns, as discussed in
Chapter 8, thus influencing the policies of governments. They dominate not only the tradi-
tional domains of product manufacture and service delivery, but also increasingly reach
into such traditionally public sector activities as education, law enforcement, and the pro-
vision of social services.3

3 For two classic analyses of corporate power, see Alfred C. Neal, Business Power and Public Policy (New York: Praeger, 1981);
and Edwin M. Epstein and Dow Votaw, eds., Rationality, Legitimacy, Responsibility: Search for New Directions in Business
and Society (Santa Monica, CA: Goodyear, 1978). More recent treatments may be found in David C. Korten, When Corpora-
tions Rule the World (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 1996) and Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American
Power (New York: Penguin Books, 2012).

Comparison of
Annual Sales
Revenue and the
Gross Domestic
Product for Selected
Corporations and
Nations, 2014, in
$ Billions*

Sources: “Fortune Global 500,”; and World Bank

*2014 $ billions of sales compared to 2014 gross domestic product in $ billions.


Toyota Motor


Motors Ukraine


Hong Kong


South Africa






152.256 177.431






$ Billions of Sales

Gross Domestic Product,
$ Billions (2014)



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48 Part One Business in Society

The following well-known quotation, frequently appearing in journals for business
executives, challenges its readers to assume a responsible role for business in society:

Business has become . . . the most powerful institution on the planet. The dominant
institution in any society needs to take responsibility for the whole. . . . Every deci-
sion that is made, every action that is taken, must be viewed in light of that kind of

The tremendous power of the world’s leading corporations has both positive and neg-
ative effects. A big company may have definite advantages over a small one. It can com-
mand more resources, produce at a lower cost, plan further into the future, and weather
business fluctuations somewhat better. Globalization of markets can bring new products,
technologies, and economic opportunities to developing societies, and help those in need.
After two earthquakes devastated India and Nepal, Canadian-made drones (unmanned
aerial vehicles) provided the American Red Cross with an-eye-in-the-sky technology to
survey the region and determine where aid was needed the most. Similar technology was
used after earthquakes ravaged Haiti, and relief efforts were slow in delivering needed
medical supplies and other forms of aid.

Yet, the concentration of corporate power can also harm society. Huge businesses can
disproportionately influence politics, shape tastes, and dominate public discourse. They
can move production from one site to another, weakening unions and communities. These
companies can also use their economic influence to collude to fix prices, divide markets,
and quash competition in ways that can negatively affect consumer choices, employment
opportunities, or the creation of new businesses. A United Nations report estimated that
the world’s largest 3,000 businesses were responsible for $2.2 trillion in environmental
damage, equal to one-third of the firms’ annual profits.5

The focused power found in the modern business corporation means that every action
it takes can affect the quality of human life—for individuals, for communities, and for the
entire globe. The obligation this gives rise to the notion of the iron law of responsibility.
The iron law of responsibility says that in the long run those who do not use power in ways
that society considers responsible will tend to lose it.

Given the virtually immeasurable power in the hands of the leaders of large, global
corporations, stakeholders throughout the social system expect business to take great care
in wielding its power responsibly for the betterment of society. As a result, social responsi-
bility has become a worldwide expectation.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) means that a corporation should act in a way that
enhances society and its inhabitants and be held accountable for any of its actions that
affect people, their communities, and their environment. This concept is based in the root
of the term responsibility, meaning “to pledge back,” creating a commitment to give back
to society and the organization’s stakeholders.6 It implies that harm to people and society

4 David C. Korten, “Limits to the Social Responsibility of Business,” The People-Centered Development Forum, article 19,
June 1, 1996.
5 “World’s Top Firms Cause $2.2tn of Environmental Damage, Report Estimates,” The Guardian, February 18, 2010, guardian
6 For a more complete discussion of the roots of corporate social responsibility and how it is practiced, see Jerry D. Goldstein
and Andrew C. Wicks, “Corporate and Stakeholder Responsibility: Making Business Ethics a Two-Way Conversation,”
Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (2007), pp. 375–98.

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should be acknowledged and corrected if at all possible. It may require a company to forgo
some profits if its social impacts seriously hurt some of its stakeholders or if its funds can
be used to have a positive social impact.

Being socially responsible does not mean that a company must abandon its other mis-
sions. As discussed later in this chapter, a business has many responsibilities: economic,
legal, and social; the challenge for management is to integrate them all into a coherent and
comprehensive mission. As Axel Weber, chairman of UBS, a Swiss global financial ser-
vices company, explained,

“I see it as my duty to understand the scope and scale of societal challenges. [At
UBS] we consider the immediate and long-term effects of these challenges. We
look at how they may impact the firm, our clients, and other stakeholders, and what
action we may need to take in response. Acting responsibly, achieving a positive
societal change—through our own activities as well as through the products, ser-
vices and advice we offer to our clients—that’s one of our key roles.”7

At times a firm’s economic, legal, and societal responsibilities will be in tension; at
other times they will blend together to better the firm and actually make it more profit-
able. Thus, having multiple and sometimes competing responsibilities does not mean that
socially responsible firms cannot be as profitable as others that are less responsible; some
are and some are not.

More recently, many companies have adopted the term corporate citizenship to refer
to the actions they take to put their commitments to corporate social responsibility into
practice. This term refers not to an abstract principle or set of beliefs, but rather to actual
behaviors. The term global corporate citizenship, similarly, refers to putting these com-
mitments into practice worldwide, not only locally or regionally. Companies demonstrate
their corporate citizenship by proactively building stakeholder partnerships, discovering
business opportunities in serving society, and transforming a concern for financial perfor-
mance into a vision of integrated financial and social performance.8

One way to understand the multiple dimensions of corporate social responsibility or cit-
izenship is to ask: What are business’s obligations to its various stakeholders? One schol-
ar’s answer to this question is shown in Exhibit 3.A.

The Origins of Corporate Social Responsibility
In the United States, the idea of corporate social responsibility appeared around the start of
the 20th century. Corporations at that time came under attack for being too big, too pow-
erful, and guilty of antisocial and anticompetitive practices. Critics tried to curb corporate
power through antitrust laws, banking regulations, and consumer protection laws.

Faced with this social protest, a few farsighted business executives advised corporations
to use their power and influence voluntarily for broad social purposes rather than for prof-
its alone. Some of the wealthiest business leaders—steelmaker Andrew Carnegie is a good
example—became great philanthropists who gave much of their wealth to educational and
charitable institutions. (Today a new cohort of philanthropists is emerging, drawn from
Generations X and Y. Some have predicted that these generations, composed of individuals

7 “Interview with Axel Weber on Corporate Culture and Responsibility at UBS,” UBS website,
8 Michael S. Aßländer and Janina Curbach, “The Corporation as Citoyen? Towards a New Understanding of Corporate Citi-
zenship,” Journal of Business Ethics, 120 (2014), pp. 541–54; Matthias S. Fifka, “Corporate Citizenship in Germany and the
United States—Differing Perceptions and Practices in Transatlantic Comparison,” Business Ethics, 22 (2013), pp. 341–56; and,
Dorothée Baumann-Pauly and Andreas Georg Scherer, “The Organizational Implementation of Corporate Citizenship: An
Assessment Tool and its Application at UN Global Compact Participants,” Journal of Business Ethics, 117 (2013), pp. 1–17.

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Principles of Corporate Citizenship

Good corporate citizens strive to conduct all business dealings in an ethical manner, make a concerted effort
to balance the needs of all stakeholders, and work to protect the environment. The principles of corporate
citizenship include the following:

Ethical Business Behavior
1. Engages in fair and honest business practices in its relationship with stakeholders.
2. Sets high standards of behavior for all employees.
3. Exercises ethical oversight of the executive and board levels.

Stakeholder Commitment
4. Strives to manage the company for the benefit of all stakeholders.
5. Initiates and engages in genuine dialogue with stakeholders.
6. Values and implements dialogue.

7. Fosters a reciprocal relationship between the corporation and community.
8. Invests in the communities in which the corporation operates.

9. Respects the rights of consumers.
10. Offers quality products and services.
11. Provides information that is truthful and useful.

12. Provides a family-friendly work environment.
13. Engages in responsible human resource management.
14. Provides an equitable reward and wage system for employees.
15. Engages in open and flexible communication with employees.
16. Invests in employee development.

17. Strives for a competitive return on investment.

18. Engages in fair trading practices with suppliers.

Environment Commitment
19. Demonstrates a commitment to the environment.
20. Demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development.

Source: Kimberly Davenport, “Corporate Citizenship: A Stakeholder Approach for Defining Corporate Social Performance and
Identifying Measures for Assessment,” 1998, doctoral dissertation, Fielding Graduate University,
dissertations/. Used with permission.

Exhibit 3.A

born after 1965, could amass even greater wealth than their predecessors, through inher-
itance, entrepreneurial success, and other means. They will be in a position to transform
charitable giving unlike any previous generation.9 Corporate philanthropy is discussed in
more detail in Chapter 18.) Other business leaders, like automaker Henry Ford, developed

9 Portraits of Young Philanthropists: How Generation X and Generation Y Are Transforming Charitable Giving (New York, The
Economist, 2014).

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Chapter 3 Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship 51

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paternalistic programs to support the recreational and health needs of their employees.
These business leaders believed that business had a responsibility to society that went
beyond or worked along with their efforts to make profits.

William C. Frederick, a leading scholar and a coauthor of several earlier editions of this
textbook, described how business’s understanding of corporate social responsibility has
evolved over the past half century. During each of four historical periods, corporate social
responsibility has had a distinct focus, set of drivers, and policy instruments, as shown in
Figure 3.2. Corporate social responsibility is defined in its most basic form as “learning to
live with, and respect, others.” In his view, corporate social responsibility evolved from a
stewardship, to strategic responsiveness, to an ethics-based understanding based in culture,
to what Frederick calls the most recent phase of corporate social responsibility: corporate

Phases of Corporate Social
Responsibility CSR Drivers CSR Policy Instruments


Early in the 20th
century but formally
in the 1950s–60s

Corporate Social Stewardship
Corporate philanthropy—acts of
Managers as public
Balancing social pressures

Executive conscience
Company image/reputation

Philanthropic funding
Public relations


Corporate Social Responsiveness
Social impact analysis
Strategic priority for social response
Organizational redesign and training
for responsiveness
Stakeholder mapping and

Social unrest/protest
Repeated corporate misbehavior
Public policy/government regulation
Stakeholder pressures
think tank policy papers

Stakeholder strategy
Regulatory compliance
Social audits
Public affairs function
Governance reform
Political lobbying


Corporate/Business Ethics
Foster an ethical corporate culture
Establish an ethical organizational
Recognize common ethical principles

Religious/ethnic beliefs
Technology-driven value changes
Human rights pressures
Code of ethics
Ethics committee/officer/audits
Ethics training
Stakeholder negotiations

CEO leadership ethics


Corporate/Global Citizenship
Stakeholder partnerships
Integrate financial, social, and
environmental performance
Identify globalization impacts
Sustainability of company and

Global economic trade/investment
High-tech communication networks
Geopolitical shifts/competition
Ecological awareness/concern
NGO pressures

Global audit standards
NGO dialogue
Sustainability audits/

FIGURE 3.2 Evolving Phases of Corporate Social Responsibility

Source: William C. Frederick, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Deep Roots, Flourishing Growth, Promising Future,” In The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social
Responsibility, eds. Andrew Crane, Abagail Williams, Dirk Matten, Jeremy Moon, and Donald S. Siegel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 522–32. Used
with permission.

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52 Part One Business in Society

Balancing Social, Economic, and Legal Responsibilities

Being socially responsible by meeting the public’s continually changing expectations
requires wise leadership at the top of the corporation. Companies with the ability to rec-
ognize profound social changes and anticipate how they will affect operations have proven
to be survivors. They get along better with government regulators, are more open to the
needs of the company’s stakeholders, and often cooperate with legislators as new laws are
developed to cope with social problems.

Nestlé, the world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company with its head-
quarters in Switzerland, launched a large-scale research project on children’s
nutrition leading to product modification or new product development by 2016.
The global initiative focused on 10 countries, including the United States,
Mexico, China, and Russia, and collaborated with over 240,000 public health opin-
ion leaders, third-party organizations, and pediatricians around the world. The Kids
Nutrition and Health Study targeted children’s nutrient intake, dietary patterns, and
family lifestyle factors. The aim was to help parents ensure the healthy growth and
development of their children, while also giving the company insights into how to
modify existing product ingredients and develop new products.10

The actions taken by Nestlé are an example of a business organization’s leaders being
guided by enlightened self-interest. This concept reflects the notion that providing value to
stakeholders is in a business’s long run self-interest. Nestlé’s research initiative certainly
cost the company money in the short run, but new product development and assistance to
the families and children who used their products and the communities where they lived
would also bring long-term benefits through enhanced reputation and customer loyalty.11

Social responsibility is not a business organization’s sole responsibility. In addition, as a
member of a civil society, organizations have legal obligations, as well as economic respon-
sibilities, to their owners and other stakeholders affected by the financial well-being of the
firm. Any organization or manager must seek to juggle these multiple responsibilities—
economic, legal, and social. The belief that the business of business is solely to attend to
shareholders’ return on investment and make a profit is no longer widely held and has no
legal foundation, as discussed next in the chapter. Rather, many business executives believe
the key challenge facing their organizations today is to meet their multiple economic and
social responsibilities simultaneously.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Debate

As we have seen, there are various views about business’s social responsibilities and these
views evolve over time. The arguments for and against corporate social responsibility are
detailed next and summarized in Figure 3.3.

Arguments for Corporate Social Responsibility
Who favors the notion of corporate social responsibility? Many business executives
believe that companies should make a profit but should balance this with their social

10 “Nestle in Society: Creating Shared Value and Meeting Our Commitments, 2014,” Nestle’s Annual Social Report, 2014,
11 Jeff Frooman, “Socially Irresponsible and Illegal Behavior and Shareholder Wealth,” Business & Society, September 1997,
pp. 221–49, argues that the negative effects on shareholder wealth when a firm acts irresponsibly support the enlightened
self-interest view: act responsibly to promote shareholders’ interests.

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responsibilities. Clearly, many stakeholder groups see the value in corporate socially
responsible action, as it preserves the environment, protects consumers, safeguards the
safety and health of employees, and prevents job discrimination, but shareholders also
expect business to maintain a strong return on their financial investments. Government
officials also support CSR in that it ensures corporate compliance with laws and regula-
tions that protect the general public from abusive business practices. In other words, both
businesspeople and stakeholders, and both supporters and critics of business, have reasons
for wanting businesses to act in socially responsible ways.

Balances Corporate Power with Responsibility

Today’s business enterprise possesses much power and influence. Most people believe that
responsibility must accompany power, whomever holds it. This obligation, presented ear-
lier in this chapter, is the iron law of responsibility. Corporations’ reputations, especially
in the banking industry, have taken a hit since the economic downturn of 2008–09. Half
of American adults say their trust in banks has declined over the past few years, joining
a growing distrust of Wall Street and mortgage lenders. This shows one example of how
managers’ misuse of corporate power and their lack of responsibility as trustees of the
public’s wealth can result in their loss of power.

Discourages Government Regulation

One of the most appealing arguments in favor of CSR is that voluntary socially responsi-
ble acts may head off increased government regulation of business. Some regulation may
reduce freedom for both business and society, and freedom is a desirable public good.
In the case of business, regulations tend to add economic costs and restrict flexibility in
decision making. From business’s point of view, freedom in decision making allows com-
panies to maintain initiative in meeting market and social forces as the following example

The beer, distilled spirits, and wine industries have a long-time understanding with
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that self-regulation and responsiveness to a
series of FTC “recommendations” may prevent more aggressive and binding regu-
latory control over these industries’ practices. They developed their own advertise-
ment campaign to warn potential consumers over the perils of driving drunk,
underage drinking, and alcoholism. Some FTC reports suggested that industry
efforts have been effective and, in some instances, have involved voluntary mea-
sures that have exceeded accepted standards. Despite concerns that these initiatives
have not gone far enough, these industries have generally been able to ward off
strict regulatory controls.12

12 “Self-regulation in the Alcohol Industry,”, n.d.,

Arguments for Corporate Social

Arguments against Corporate Social

Balances corporate power with responsibility.
Discourages government regulation.
Promotes long-term profits for business.
Improves stakeholder relationships.
Enhance business reputation.

Lowers economic efficiency and profit.
Imposes unequal costs among competitors.
Imposes hidden costs passed on to stakeholders.
Requires skills business may lack.
Places responsibility on business rather than

The Pros and Cons
of Corporate Social

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54 Part One Business in Society

This view is also consistent with political philosophy that wishes to keep power as
decentralized as possible in a democratic society. From this perspective, government is
already a massive institution whose centralized power and bureaucracy threaten the bal-
ance of power in society. Therefore, if business by its own socially responsible behavior
can discourage new government restrictions, it is accomplishing a public good as well as
its own private good.

Promotes Long-Term Profits for Business

At times, social initiatives by business produce long-run business profits. In 1951 a New
Jersey judge ruled in a precedent-setting case, Barlow et al. v. A.P. Smith Manufacturing,
that a corporate donation to Princeton University was an investment by the firm, and thus
an allowable business expense. The rationale was that a corporate gift to a school, though
costly in the present, might in time provide a flow of talented graduates to work for the
company. The court ruled that top executives must take “a long-range view of the matter”
and exercise “enlightened leadership and direction” when it comes to using company funds
for socially responsible programs.13

A classic example of the long-term benefits of social responsibility was the Johnson
& Johnson Tylenol incident in the 1980s, when several people died after ingesting
Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules laced with the poison cyanide. To ensure the safety
of its customers, Johnson & Johnson immediately recalled the product, an action
that cost the firm millions of dollars in the short term. The company’s production
processes were never found defective. Customers rewarded Johnson & Johnson’s
responsible actions by continuing to buy its products, and in the long run the com-
pany once again became profitable.

Empirical evidence has supported this view. Studies generally have found that most of the
time, more responsible companies also had better financial results; the statistical association
has been highly to modestly positive across the range of all prior studies. According to one
recent study, the association was strongest when a company pursued social responsibility
initiatives that were linked to stakeholder preferences. As one group of scholars concluded,
“companies need to link their CSR initiatives to the likely preferences of their stakeholders
and undertake the corporate social actions that are relevant to the company’s strategy.”14

In this chapter’s opening examples, Starbucks Coffee Company launched an initiative to
help coffee farming communities around the world to mitigate climate change impact and
promote long-term crop stability, and consumer foods company RB partnered with Save
The Children to help eradicate child deaths from diarrhea in developing countries. In both
instances, these companies were investing in the future, hoping that their social responsi-
bility efforts would also indirectly help their firm’s financial bottom line.

Improves Stakeholder Relationships

Managers often believe that developing a strong social agenda and series of social pro-
grams will improve the firm’s stakeholder relationships. Whether it improved the qual-
ity of people it attracted as employees, or appealed to consumers to purchase the firm’s

13 Barlow et al. v. A.P. Smith Manufacturing (1951, New Jersey Supreme Court), discussed in Clarence C. Walton, Corporate
Social Responsibility (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1967), pp. 48–52.
14 Quote is from Giovanna Michelon, Giacomo Boesso, and Kamalesh Kumar, “Examining the Link between Strategic Corpo-
rate Social Responsibility and Company Performance: An Analysis of the Best Corporate Citizens,” Corporate Social Respon-
sibility and Environmental Management, 20 (2013), pp. 81–94. Also see Qian Wang, Junsheng Dou, and Shenghua Jia, “A
Meta-Analytic Review of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Financial Performance: The Moderating Effect of
Contextual Factor,” Business & Society, available online on May 4, 2015.

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product or services, or built strong ties with the community in which it operated, or per-
suaded investors to purchase company stock, managers felt that social action by the firm
was viewed positively by stakeholders. This belief was borne out in recent research where
corporate social responsibility was linked to current and prospective employees’ trust in
the firm and desire to work for the firm, positive consumer purchasing decisions, and
investors’ decisions, especially during times of economic downturn. At Coca-Cola, 60,000
employees were surveyed and reported that corporate social responsibility was the second
biggest driver of their commitment and loyalty to the firm, after leadership.15

Enhances Business Reputation

The social reputation of the firm is often viewed as an important element in establishing trust
between the firm and its stakeholders. Reputation refers to desirable or undesirable qualities
associated with an organization or its actors that may influence the organization’s relation-
ships with its stakeholders.16 Rating Research, a British firm, created a “reputation index”
to measure a company’s social reputation. The index evaluates critical intangible assets that
constitute corporate reputation and broadly disseminates these ratings to interested parties.

As further explored in Chapter 19, a firm’s reputation is a valuable intangible asset, as it
prompts repeat purchases by loyal consumers and helps to attract and retain better employ-
ees to spur productivity and enhance profitability. Employees who have the most to offer
may be attracted to work for a firm that contributes to the social good of the community,
or is more sensitive to the needs and safety of its consumers, or takes better care of its
employees. Research has confirmed that a firm’s “good deeds” or reputation increases its
attractiveness to employees.17 An example of a company that has embraced having a solid
reputation when managing their stakeholders is described next.

Sodexo, a provider of integrated food and facilities management services through-
out North America including many hospitals, senior living centers, colleges, uni-
versities, and school districts, was committed to developing a positive reputation.
“Being a responsible corporate citizen is at the core of Sodexo’s business,” declared
the company’s website. “We set the benchmark in areas such as sustainability,
diversity and inclusion, wellness, and the fight against hunger.” Sodexo’s “The
Better Tomorrow Plan” impacted 80 countries at 30,600 locations and engaged the
company’s 380,000 employees. The program addressed 14 different issues, such
as reducing the firm’s carbon and water usage in all company operations and at all
client’s locations, providing and promoting varied and balanced food options to
its clients, increasing the purchase of products sourced from fairly and responsibly
certified sources, and ensuring compliance with a Global Sustainable Supply Chain
Code of Conduct.18

15 For additional research exploring this relationship, see R. E. Slack, S. Corlett, and R. Morris, “Exploring Employee
Engagement with (Corporate) Social Responsibility: A Social Exchange Perspective on Organizational Participation,” Journal
of Business Ethics 127 (2015), pp. 537–48; Danae Manika, Victoria K. Wells, Diana Gregory-Smith, and Michael Gentry, “The
Impact of Individual Attitudinal and Organizational Variables on Workplace Environmentally Friendly Behaviors,” Journal of
Business Ethics 126 (2015), pp. 663–84; and Lisa E. Bolton and Anna S. Mattila, “How Does Corporate Social Responsibility
Affect Consumer Response to Service Failure in Buyer-Seller Relationships?” Journal of Retailing 91 (2015), pp. 140–53.
16 The definition of reputation is adapted from John F. Mahon, “Corporate Reputation: A Research Agenda Using Strategy and
Stakeholder Literature,” Business & Society 41, no. 4 (December 2002), pp. 415–45. For the “reputation index,” see Charles
Fombrun, Reputation: Realizing Value from the Corporate Image (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996) and Rating
Research LLC,
17 Turhan Erkmen and Emel Esen, “The Mediating Role of Trust to Managers on the Relationship Between Corporate Reputa-
tion Practices and Employees’ Course of Actions to Customers, Social Responsibility Journal 10 (2014), pp. 296–82.
18 The quotation and information about Sodexo is from the company’s website,

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56 Part One Business in Society

Arguments against Corporate Social Responsibility
Who opposes corporate social responsibility? The economist Milton Friedman famously
stated in 1970, “There is only one responsibility of business, namely to use its resources
and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Some people in the business
world—such as the 16 percent of CEOs in the survey (shown later in Figure 3.4) who
believe that the appropriate role of business is to provide the highest possible returns to
shareholders while obeying all laws and regulations—clearly agree with this view. Some
fear that the pursuit of social goals by business will lower firms’ economic efficiency,
thereby depriving society of important goods and services. Others are skeptical about
trusting business with social improvements; they prefer governmental initiatives and pro-
grams. According to some of the more radical critics of the private business system, social
responsibility is nothing but a clever public relations smokescreen to hide business’s true
intentions to make as much money as possible, often at the expense of workers, commu-
nities, and customers. See Figure 3.3 again for some of the arguments against corporate
social responsibility, discussed next.

Lowers Economic Efficiency and Profits

According to one argument, when a business uses some of its resources for social pur-
poses, it risks lowering its efficiency or even going out of business.

Life was very good for Aaron Feuerstein in the mid-1990s. His company, Malden
Mills, was flourishing, despite a sharp decline in the textile industry in the United
States. Malden Mills’ popular flagship product, Polarfleece, was widely used in
high-performance athletic and aerobic apparel, outerwear products, and had even
been adopted for military use. But on December 11, 1995, as Feuerstein was return-
ing from his 70th birthday party, he saw his factory burn to the ground. Critics
thought Feuerstein should just accept the $300 million in insurance money and
relocate or dissolve the business. But Feuerstein was committed to his employers,
so he vowed to keep them all on the payroll, at a cost of $1.5 million per week, and
continue their benefits for at least 90 more days. The eventual cost of $25 million
in employee wages, lawsuits filed by injured employees, and the $100 million cost
to rebuild the factory turned out to be too much for Feuerstein’s company. By 2001,
Malden Mills had filed for bankruptcy, and Feuerstein eventually lost control of the

In this example, Feuerstein’s motives were admirable, his commitments to his employees
eventually became too costly and threatened the survival of the firm.

Business managers and economists argue that the business of business is business.
Businesses are told to concentrate on producing goods and services and selling them at the
lowest competitive price. When these economic tasks are done, the most efficient firms
survive. Even though corporate social responsibility is well-intended, such social activities
lower business’s efficiency, thereby depriving society of higher levels of economic produc-
tion needed to maintain everyone’s standard of living.20

19 “The Mensch of Malden Mills: CEO Aaron Feuerstein Puts Employees First,” CBS News 60 Minutes, July 3, 2003, cbsnews.
com; and, David W. Gill, “Was Aaron Feuerstein Wrong?” Ethix, June 25, 2011,
20 This argument is most often attributed to Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,”
The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970, pp. 33, 122–26.

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Imposes Unequal Costs among Competitors

Another argument against social responsibility is that it imposes greater costs on more
responsible companies, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Consider the follow-
ing scenario:

A manufacturer operating in multiple countries wishes to be more socially respon-
sible worldwide and decides to protect its employees by installing more safety
equipment at its plants than local law requires. Other manufacturers in competition
with this company do not take similar steps, choosing to install only as much safety
equipment as required by law. As a result their costs are lower, and their profits
higher. In this case, the socially responsible firm penalizes itself and even runs the
risk of going out of business, especially in a highly competitive market.

This kind of problem becomes acute when viewed from a global perspective, where
laws and regulations differ from one country to the next. If one nation requires higher and
more costly pollution control standards, or stricter job safety rules, or more stringent pre-
market testing of prescription drugs than other nations, it imposes higher costs on business.
This cost disadvantage means that competition cannot be equal. Foreign competitors who
are the least socially responsible will actually be rewarded because they will be able to
capture a bigger share of the market.

Imposes Hidden Costs Passed on to Stakeholders

Many social proposals undertaken by business do not pay their own way in an economic
sense; therefore, someone must pay for them. Ultimately, society pays all costs. Some peo-
ple may believe that social benefits are costless, but socially responsible businesses will
try to recover all of their costs in some way. For example, if a company chooses to install
expensive pollution abatement equipment, the air may be cleaner, but ultimately someone
will have to pay. Shareholders may receive lower dividends, employees may be paid less,
or consumers may be charged higher prices. If the public knew that it would eventually
have to pay these costs, and if it knew how high the true costs were, it might not be so insis-
tent that companies act in socially responsible ways. The same might be true of govern-
ment regulations intended to produce socially desirable business behavior. By driving up
business costs, these regulations often increase prices and lower productivity, in addition
to making the nation’s tax bill higher.

Requires Skills Business May Lack

Businesspeople are not primarily trained to solve social problems. They may know about
production, marketing, accounting, finance, information technology, and personnel work,
but what do they know about inner-city issues or world poverty or violence in schools?
Putting businesspeople in charge of solving such problems may lead to unnecessarily
expensive and poorly conceived approaches. Thus one might question the effectiveness
and efficiency of businesspeople seeking to address social issues. Business analysts might
be tempted to believe that methods that succeed in normal business operations will also be
applicable to complex social problems, even though different approaches may work better
in the social arena.

A related idea is that public officials who are duly elected by citizens in a democratic
society should address societal issues. Business leaders are not elected by the public and
therefore do not have a mandate to solve social problems. In short, businesspeople do not
have the expertise or the popular support required to address what are essentially issues of
public policy.

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58 Part One Business in Society

Places Responsibility on Business Rather Than Individuals

The entire idea of corporate responsibility is misguided, according to some critics. Only
individual persons can be responsible for their actions. People make decisions; organiza-
tions do not. An entire company cannot be held liable for its actions, only those individuals
who are involved in promoting or carrying out a policy. Therefore, it is wrong to talk about
the social responsibility of business when it is the social responsibility of individual busi-
nesspersons that is involved. If individual business managers want to contribute their own
personal money to a social cause, let them do so; but it is wrong for them to contribute their
company’s funds in the name of corporate social responsibility.21 Together, the above argu-
ments claim that the attempt to exercise corporate social responsibility places added bur-
dens on both business and society without producing the intended effect of social
improvement or produces it at excessive cost.

This view was challenged a number of years ago when a survey by the consulting firm
McKinsey reported that a solid majority—84 percent—of business executives said that
they believe that companies should balance their responsibility to their investors with their
responsibilities of other business stakeholders. Only a minority—16 percent—felt that
companies should focus primarily on maximizing their investors’ returns while staying
within the law of society. These results are summarized in Figure 3.4.

An emerging type of businesses, called B Corporations, explicitly seek to balance the
interests of multiple stakeholders. B Corporations are business organizations that focus on
social responsibility and citizenship by blending their social objectives with financial goals
and use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corporations
are further described in Exhibit 3.B.

Management Systems for Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship

Corporate social responsibility and citizenship require more than espoused values; they
require action. Companies must establish management processes and structures to carry out
their citizenship commitments. This section describes some of the ways forward-thinking
companies are changing to improve their ability to act as socially responsible citizens.

BSR, a management consultancy formerly called Businesses for Social Responsibility,
surveyed its more than 300 members to determine how they had organized to carry out
their citizenship functions. BSR observed great variation in what they termed corporate
social responsibility (CSR) or corporate citizenship management systems. BSR found that

21 This argument, like the “lowers economic efficiency and profits” argument, often is attributed to Friedman, “The Social
Responsibility of Business.” “Social Responsibility of Business” Ibid.

Business Executives’
View of the Role of
Business in Society

Source: For a more detailed
discussion of these views,
see “The McKinsey Global
Survey of Business Executives:
Business and Society,”
McKinsey Quarterly, January
2006, based on a survey of
4,238 executives (more than a
quarter are CEOs or other top
executives) in 116 countries.

= 16%

= 84%

Primarily focus on maximizing their
investors’ returns while staying

within the law of society

Balance their responsibility to their
investors with their responsibilities

to other business stakeholders

Percentage of business executives who believe that business organizations should . . .

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the goal of a global citizenship management system is to integrate corporate responsibil-
ity and citizenship concerns into a company’s values, culture, operations, and business
decisions at all levels of the organization. Many companies have taken steps to create such
a system by assigning responsibility to a committee of the board, an executive-level com-
mittee, or a single executive or group of executives who can identify key CSR or corporate
citizenship issues and evaluate and develop a structure for long-term integration of social
values throughout the organization. One important observation is that there is no single
universally accepted method for designing a global corporate citizenship management
structure. This is definitely not a “one size fits all” exercise.

Corporate citizenship, as this study recognized, is a rapidly evolving area of managerial
practice in many organizations. While businesses administer this corporate activity in dif-
ferent ways, one example is Gap Inc.’s appointment of Bobbi Silten.

Bobbi Silten is the Executive Vice President of Global Talent & Sustainability at
Gap, Inc., after previously serving as its Senior Vice President of Global Respon-
sibility and President of Gap Foundation. In those roles, she oversaw the compa-
ny’s global community investments in women’s advancement and jobs for youth,
and volunteer programs for employees worldwide. She also served as a member
of the White House Council for Community Solutions, which provided advice to
President Obama on the best ways to mobilize citizens, nonprofits, businesses, and
government to work more effectively together to solve specific community needs.

The B Corporation

To qualify for B Corporation status, an organization must meet rigorous, independent social and environmen-
tal performance standards, assessed by the nonprofit organization B Lab. The company is assessed on the
impact it has on its communities, employees, consumers, and the environment. The idea is that a business
cannot just claim it is socially responsible, but it must prove it by meeting the B Lab standards. By May 2015,
there were 1,281 organizations in 41 countries and 121 industries that had received the B Corp certification.
(Certified B Corporations are different from businesses that are chartered in a state as a “benefit corporation.”
Benefit corporations use the protection afforded by state-driven statues to enable the company to address
social objectives, as well as financial objectives, without facing legal challenges by stockholders for shirking
the firm’s financial responsibilities.)
Certified B Corporations are more likely to receive various government recognitions, such as the U.S.
Drug Administration’s organic seal, or to qualify for a LEED certification for their buildings (designating envi-
ronmental excellence), or to be certified as engaging in fair trade. B Corporations are subjected to random
audits, and these reports are made public, adding a layer of transparency to the process and certification. In
addition, B Corporations must modify their company’s bylaws in order to formalize their social mission.
Warby Parker is a B Corporation. Four college friends started the company to design, manufacture, and
distribute high-quality eyeglasses that sold for around $95 rather than the more common $500 price tag.
But, its founders also wanted to have a social impact so adopted the policy that for every pair of eyeglasses
sold, one pair would be donated to someone in need. Warby Parker also pledged to become one of the few
carbon-neutral eyewear brands in the world. “It was important to the four of us that if we are going to dedi-
cate our life savings and our time to building an organization, we wanted to have a positive impact,” said Neil
Blumenthal. This combination of economic and social objectives qualified Warby Parker for B Corporation

22 See the B Corporation website at and Warby Parker was profiled in “Vision Quest,” Entrepreneur,
January 2012, pp. 56–57.

Exhibit 3.B

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60 Part One Business in Society

In her current executive role, Silten oversees the company’s sustainable innovations
and coordinates global stakeholder partnerships.23

One emerging trend is the consolidation of corporate citizenship efforts, like those at
Gap, into a single office that may encompass community relations, philanthropy, stake-
holder engagement, social auditing and reporting, and other functions. According to a
study of American companies, almost all—94 percent—of Fortune 250 companies (the
largest corporations in the United States, published annually in Fortune magazine) had a
department of corporate citizenship, global citizenship, corporate social responsibility, or
a similar name. Many of these departments had been recently established. The heads of
many of them were senior vice presidents or vice presidents.24

CEOs increasingly have accepted the multiple responsibilities of business notion—
economic, social, and legal—that make up the citizenship profile, as described by senior
Walmart executives:

“Long-term capitalism takes a deeper view of business’s role in society, recognizing
that, in the long run, the interests of stakeholders converge with the interests of the
broader community. The actions of any one company may reverberate throughout
the various systems in which it operates, generating second- and third-order ben-
efits. . . . Under long-term capitalism, companies recognize that fact and, through
concerted actions with others of sufficient scale, work to ensure constant improve-
ments to those systems.”25

Visionary CEOs clearly see citizenship as an opportunity to create value for their
organization, gain a competitive advantage, and help address some of the world’s biggest
challenges. As businesses have become more committed to citizenship, specialized con-
sultancies and professional associations for managers with responsibility in this area have
emerged. Many of these organizations, including BSR, whose study is cited earlier, are
profiled in Exhibit 3.C.

Stages of Corporate Citizenship

Companies do not become socially responsible or good corporate citizens overnight. The
process takes time. New attitudes have to be developed, new routines learned, new policies
and action programs designed, and new relationships formed. Many obstacles must be
overcome. What process do companies go through as they proceed down this path? What
factors push and pull them along?

Philip H. Mirvis and Bradley K. Googins of the Center for Corporate Citizenship at
Boston College developed a five-stage model of global corporate citizenship, based on their
work with hundreds of practitioners in a wide range of companies.26 In their view, firms typi-
cally pass through a sequence of five stages as they develop as corporate citizens. Each stage
is characterized by a distinctive pattern of concepts, strategic intent, leadership, structure,
issues management, stakeholder relationships, and transparency, as illustrated in Figure 3.5.

23 See “Bobbi Silten,” The Huffington Post, July 2, 2015,
24 Anne T. Lawrence, Gordon Rands, and Mark Starik, “The Role, Career Path, Skill Set, and Reporting Relationships of the
Corporate Social Responsibility/Citizenship/Sustainability Officer in Fortune 250 Firms,” presented at the annual meeting of
the International Association for Business and Society, 2009.
25 “Business and Society in the Coming Decades,” McKinsey & Company, April 2015,
26 Philip H. Mirvis and Bradley K. Googins, Stages of Corporate Citizenship: A Developmental Framework (Chestnut Hill, MA:
Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, 2006). For a contrasting stage model, based on the experience of Nike,
see Simon Zadek, “The Path to Corporate Responsibility,” Harvard Business Review, December 2004, pp. 125–32.

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Professional Associations and Consultancies in
Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship

around the Globe

As the practice of corporate citizenship has spread, so have professional associations and consultancies
serving managers in this arena. Among the leading organizations are these:

• In the United States, BSR (formerly Business for Social Responsibility) provides consulting services to its
members and works with business to create a just and sustainable world.

• Canadian Business for Social Responsibility seeks to be the premier network and key resource in Canada
for large and small companies, researchers, opinion leaders, and the media to advance corporate social
responsibility and sustainability.

• Corporate Social Responsibility Europe (CSR Europe) is the leading European business network with 70
corporate members and 41 national CSR organizations, representing over 10,000 companies.

• Forum Empresa was created an as inter-American organization (North and South America) and represents
19 countries in the region and a combined total of more than 3,300 affiliated businesses.

• The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC or AICC Africa) is a nongovernmental organization
specializing in acting as a catalyst and facilitator of change; as a broker and initiator of multisector part-
nerships and platforms; and as a knowledge management hub for issues relating to the role of responsi-
ble business in African societies.

• CSR Asia promotes awareness of sustainable development across the region by providing cutting-edge
research, strategy advisory, networking, and executive education services with an informed understand-
ing of evolving CSR issues on the ground.

• Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility, based in the Philippines, sponsors conferences to pro-
vide CSR practitioners in Asia an opportunity to learn, collaborate, and share insights.

Source: More information about these organizations is available online at,,,,,, and

Exhibit 3.C

FIGURE 3.5 The Stages of Global Corporate Citizenship


Intent Leadership Structure


Relationships Transparency

Stage 5:

Change the

Market creation
or social change

Visionary, ahead
of the pack

business driven

Defining Multi-


Stage 4:

or triple bottom


Champion, in
front of it





Stage 3:



on top of it





Stage 2:


License to

in the loop



Interactive Public

Stage 1:

Jobs, profits,
and taxes


Lip service, out
of touch


Defensive Unilateral Flank

From the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s “Stages of Corporate Citizenship: A Developmental Framework,” by Philip Mirvis, PhD and Bradley K. Googins,
PhD, 2006. Used with permission.

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62 Part One Business in Society

Elementary Stage. At this stage, citizenship is undeveloped. Managers are uninterested
and uninvolved in social issues. Although companies at this stage obey the law, they
do not move beyond compliance. Companies tend to be defensive; they react only
when threatened. Communication with stakeholders is one-way: from the company
to the stakeholder.

Engaged Stage. At this second stage, companies typically become aware of changing
public expectations and see the need to maintain their license to operate. Engaged
companies may adopt formal policies, such as governing labor standards or human
rights. They begin to interact with and listen to stakeholders, although engagement
occurs mainly through established departments. Top managers become involved.
Often, a company at this stage will step up its philanthropic giving or commit to
specific environmental objectives. When Home Depot announced that it would sell
only environmentally certified wood products, this was an example of a company at
the engaged stage of corporate citizenship.

Innovative Stage. At this third stage, organizations may become aware that they lack the
capacity to carry out new commitments, prompting a wave of structural innovation.
Departments begin to coordinate, new programs are launched, and many companies
begin reporting their efforts to stakeholders. (Social reporting is discussed later in
this chapter.) External groups become more influential. Companies begin to under-
stand more fully the business reasons for engaging in citizenship.

Integrated Stage. As they move into the fourth stage, companies see the need to build
more coherent initiatives. Mirvis and Googins cite the example of Asea Brown
Boveri (ABB), a Switzerland-based multinational producer of power plants and
automation systems, which carefully coordinates its many sustainability programs
from the CEO level down to line officers in more than 50 countries where the com-
pany has a presence. Integrated companies may adopt triple bottom line measures
turn to external audits and enter into ongoing partnerships with stakeholders.

Transforming Stage. This is the fifth and highest stage in the model. Companies at
this stage have visionary leaders and are motivated by a higher sense of corporate
purpose. They partner extensively with other organizations and individuals across
business, industry, and national borders to address broad social problems and reach
underserved markets.

Net-Works is a project that joined carpet manufacturer Interface with the Zoological
Society of London to focus on the wasteful use of fishing nets in the Philippines.
When fishermen were done using their nonbiodegradable fishing nets, they had
simply discarded them on the beach or in the sea, posing a threat to marine life. To
change this, Net-Works paid villagers living along the beaches to collect the old
nets, which were then sold directly to Interface’s nylon supplier. The nets were then
reprocessed for use in manufacturing Interface’s carpets. In just a year, more than
25 tons of waste nets were collected and 4,800 extra meals were on the tables of the
local villagers due to the income they received. The visionary partnership helped
the environment, the community, and the company.27

The model’s authors emphasize that individual companies can be at more than one
stage at once, if their development progresses faster in some areas than in others. For
example, a company might audit its activities and disclose the findings to the public in

27 “Best Business/NGO Partnership: Net-Works,” Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Awards 2014—Part 1, Ethical Cor-

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social reports (transparency, stage 5), but still be interacting with stakeholders in a pattern
of mutual influence (stakeholder relationships, stage 3). This is normal, the authors point
out, because each organization evolves in a way that reflects the particular challenges it
faces. Nevertheless, because the dimensions of global corporate citizenship are linked,
they tend to become more closely aligned over time.

Assessing and Reporting Social Performance

As companies around the world expand their commitment to corporate responsibility and
citizenship, they have also improved their capacity to measure performance and assess
results. A social audit is a systematic evaluation of an organization’s social, ethical, and
environmental performance.28

In a social audit, a company’s performance is evaluated relative to a set of externally
imposed standards. The results of the audit are used to improve the firm’s performance and
to communicate with stakeholders and the public. The scholar Simon Zadek has identified
six benefits of social audits. They help businesses know what is happening within their
firm, understand what stakeholders think about and want from the business, tell stake-
holders what the business has achieved, strengthen the loyalty and commitment of stake-
holders, enhance the organization’s decision making, and improve the business’s overall

Today, many businesses use social audits to measure the societal impact of their actions.
In a world where the use of company resources must be justified, the greater the social
equity documented, the stronger the argument a business can make that it is meeting its
social obligations. Businesses also used their social audit results to minimize risks or cap-
italize on opportunities. They see the process as fostering innovation within the company.
Some believe that to communicate with the organization’s stakeholders in a transparent
manner is simply the ethical thing to do.

Social Audit Standards
In response to the emerging efforts by governments to promote global citizenship, a num-
ber of different corporate citizenship standards have been developed that establish mea-
sures or benchmarks against which a firm’s citizenship activities (or those of its suppliers
or partners) can be compared in a social audit. Social audits look not only at what an orga-
nization does, but also at the results of these actions. For example, if a company supports
a tutorial program at a local school, the audit might not only look at the number of hours
of employee volunteerism, but also assess changes in student test scores as an indicator of
the program’s social impact.

Audit standards can be created in three different ways. Companies can develop stan-
dards designed to set expectations of performance for themselves or their suppliers or
partners. For example, Apple developed its own supplier code of conduct. Or, companies
within an industry can agree on a common industrywide standard, as several high tech-
nology companies did when they agreed on an Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition
(EICC) Code of Conduct. The EICC’s attention to good corporate citizenship focused on
combatting forced labor, making it a priority in 2015. The revised EICC Code prohibits the
holding of passports and other key worker documents as well as unreasonable restrictions
on movement and access to basic liberties, and requires that workers be provided with
a written employment agreement in their native language prior to departing from their
28 The concept of a social audit was first introduced in Howard R. Bowen, Social Responsibilities of the Businessman (New
York: Harper, 1953).

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country of origin. Both companywide and industrywide supply chain codes of conduct, as
well as auditing processes, are further described in Chapter 17.

Finally, audit standards can be developed by global nongovernmental organizations
or standard-setting organizations. A number of such organizations have developed stan-
dards to judge corporate performance. These include the International Organisation for
Standards (ISO 14001, 14063, and 26000), Social Accountability 8000, the Institute of
Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA), AccountAbility (or AA 1000), the United Nations
Global Compact, and the Global Reporting Initiative, which is profiled in Exhibit 3.D.

Social Reporting
When a company decides to publicize information collected in a social audit, this is called
corporate social reporting. While there is a risk of incurring reputational damage from
exposing any problems publicly, many companies see value in practicing transparency.
The term transparency refers to a quality of complete clarity; a clear glass window, for
example, is said to be transparent. When companies clearly and openly report their
performance—financial, social, and environmental—to their various stakeholders, they
are acting with transparency. One region where the trend toward corporate reporting and
transparency has been particularly apparent in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2014, 99 percent of all Australian and New Zealand companies indicated that
they would conduct an assessment of their business operations and publicly report
the results that year, according to a study by the Australian Centre for Corporate
Social Responsibility. They attributed their nearly unanimous preference for report-
ing to the International Integrated Reporting Commission’s Integrated Reporting
Framework and the new Global Reporting Initiative fourth generation (G4) guide-
lines (see Exhibit 3.D). The companies surveyed said they believed in transparent
reporting because they understood it could build a reputation for responsibility, con-
tribute to the company’s brand, engage senior leadership in strategic conversations,
improve stakeholder engagement, and identify opportunities for improvement.
According to Victoria Whitaker, head of GRI Focal Point Australia, “businesses
around the world are recognizing that reporting can help them understand the

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

The GRI is based on the belief that a sustainable global economy should combine long-term profitability with
ethical behavior, social justice, and environmental care. This means that when companies and organizations
consider sustainability—and integrate it into how they operate—they must consider four key areas of their
performance and impacts: economic, environmental, social, and governance.
GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework is a reporting system that enables all companies and organi-
zations to measure, understand, and communicate this information using common metrics, so performance
can be compared across firms and industries. The GRI Guidelines offer an international reference for all those
interested in the disclosure of the governance approach and the environmental, social, and economic per-
formance and impacts of organizations. The GRI Guidelines are developed through a global multistakeholder
process involving representatives from business, labor, civil society, and financial markets, as well as auditors
and experts in various fields; and in close dialogue with regulators and governmental agencies in several
countries. By 2015, nearly 7,500 organizations generated nearly 20,000 reports based on the GRI Sustain-
ability Reporting Framework.

Source: See the Global Reporting Initiatives website at

Exhibit 3.D

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context in which they operate and the stakeholders whom they serve. Done well it
informs corporate strategy and decision making.”29

A survey of business firms by KPMG, an accounting and consulting firm, showed a
steep increase in corporate social reporting in recent years, as shown in Figure 3.6.

The 2013 KPMG report declared, “The debate is over. Companies should no longer ask
whether or not they should publish a CR [corporate responsibility] report. The high rates
of CR reporting in all regions suggest it is now standard business practice worldwide. The
leaders of N100 or G250 companies that still do not publish CR reports should ask them-
selves whether it benefits them to continue swimming against the tide or whether it puts
them at risk.” Seventy-eight percent of reporting companies worldwide referred to the GRI
reporting guidelines (see Exhibit 3.D) in their CR reports, a rise of 9 percentage points
since the 2011 survey (over 90 percent do so in South Korea, South Africa, Portugal,
Chile, Brazil, and Sweden).30

An emerging trend in corporate reporting is the integration of legally required financial
information with social and environmental information into a single integrated report. In
2013, a majority of companies (51 percent) included information of corporate responsibil-
ity in their annual financial reports. This reflected a dramatic rise in integrated reporting,
from 8 percent in 2008 and 20 percent in 2011.31

Why do companies publish social responsibility reports? According to one study, most
firms (80 percent) are motivated by ethical concerns. Ethical drivers replaced economic
considerations (80 percent versus 50 percent) as the primary motivator for publishing
these reports, a complete reverse from a few years ago when economic considerations
were viewed as the most important. Nearly two-thirds of the 250 firms worldwide reported

29 Information from “The 10th Year-Progress and Prospects for CSR in Australia and New Zealand,” Australian Centre for
Corporate Social Responsibility, 2014.
30 See The KPMG Survey of Corporate Social Reporting 2013 at
31 KPMG report 2013, Ibid.

Trends in Corporate
Social Reporting,

Source: KPMG International
Corporate Responsibility
Reporting Survey 2013 at









1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2013




f f






Percentage of original 100 firms surveyed reporting

Percentage of largest 250 firms reporting


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66 Part One Business in Society

that they engaged with their stakeholders in a structured way, up from 33 percent a decade

In today’s business climate, multiple stakeholders demand that businesses adopt mea-
sureable standards for corporate responsibility and citizenship, audit their organizations
according to these standards, and report the results to the public.

32“Socially Responsible Investment Analysts Find More Large U.S. Companies Reporting on Social and Environmental Issues,”
Social Investment Research Analysts Network Report,

∙ The world’s largest corporations are capable of wielding tremendous influence, at times
even more than national governments, due to their economic power. Because of this
potential influence, the organizations’ stakeholders expect businesses to enhance soci-
ety when exercising their power.

∙ The idea of corporate social responsibility was adopted by business leaders in the
United States in the early 20th century. It has evolved from a notion of stewardship and
strategic responsiveness to an ethics-based understanding found in culture and the prac-
tice of corporate citizenship. Socially responsible businesses attempt to balance eco-
nomic, legal, and social obligations. Following an enlightened self-interest approach,
a firm may be economically rewarded while society benefits from the firm’s actions.

∙ Corporate social responsibility is a debatable notion. Some argue that its benefits
include discouraging government regulation, promoting long-term profitability for the
firm, and enhancing the company’s stakeholder relationships and business reputation.
Others believe that it lowers efficiency, imposes undue costs, and shifts unnecessary
obligations to business. Most executives believe that they should use their corporate
power and influence to balance their response to multiple stakeholders rather than max-
imize stockholders’ return alone.

∙ Global corporate citizenship refers to putting a commitment to serving various stake-
holders into practice by building stakeholder partnerships, discovering business oppor-
tunities in serving society, and transforming a concern for financial performance into
a vision of integrated financial and social performance worldwide. Global corporate
citizenship programs can be considered a strategic investment by the firm.

∙ Companies progress through five distinct stages as they develop as global corporate
citizens; these are termed the elementary, engaged, innovative, integrated, and trans-
forming stages. A particular company may be at more than one stage at once, as it may
be progressing more quickly on some dimensions than on others.

∙ Many companies have created systemic audits of their social, ethical, and environmen-
tal performance, measured against industrywide performance expectations as well as
auditing standards developed by global standard-setting organizations. An emerging
trend is the practice of communicating social, environmental, and financial results to
stakeholders through an integrated corporate report.


Key Terms iron law of
responsibility, 48
reputation, 55
social audit, 63
transparency, 64

B Corporation, 58
corporate citizenship, 49
corporate power, 47
corporate social
reporting, 64

corporate social
responsibility, 48
enlightened self-
interest, 52
integrated reporting, 65

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Resources BSR: The business of a better world The Business in Society Gateway CSR News The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire Corporate Responsibility.Net Corporate Responsibility Magazine Global Reporting Initiative United Nations Global Compact

Discussion Case: Corporate Social Responsibility
at Gravity Payments

Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, a small, privately owned company that pro-
vided high-service and low-cost credit card processing, surprised his 120-person staff
when he announced that over the next three years he would raise the salary of all employ-
ees, even the lowest paid clerk, customer service representative, and salesperson, to a mini-
mum of $70,000. The average annual salary at that time at Gravity was around $48,000, so
the increase would nearly double some employees’ salaries. Price explained that he would
pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and
using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit.

Price’s announcement was met with mixed reactions. Some employees were thrilled,
clapping and whooping when they heard the announcement. “I’m freaking out,” said one
employee. But, others—many from the financial services community—said that this was
just a costly publicity stunt.

Price was no stranger to the spotlight. He earned the honor of Entrepreneur of the Year
in 2014 from Enterprise Magazine. GeekWire named Price its Young Entrepreneur of
the Year in 2013, and in 2010 he received the Small Business Administration’s National
Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. When asked about his recent awards, Price said,
“I’m looking at this not as any kind of end result to celebrate, but more just a stepping
stone to get our ultimate goal, which is to level the playing field and make payments and
financial services and business services fair for independent business owners.” Price also
annually donated 10 percent of Gravity’s profits to charity. The equitable employee sal-
ary announcement seemed like another step toward achieving Price’s goals as a business

Price launched Gravity (a name, Price explained, that was selected because “you could
understand [it] on the phone”) while attending college, but the firm actually grew out of a
technology consulting business he created while in high school. His goal was to manage
credit card transactions for small businesses, like coffeehouses, in a more affordable and
transparent way. “I never intended to make a lot of money, or really any,” said Price. “I
was really upset at this industry for the way they were treating my [consulting] clients,
and I just wanted to blow the thing up. So I was like, ‘I’m going to charge a third of what
everyone [else does].’”

Financial analysts recognized Gravity Payments’ success; his company processed
nearly $10 billion in credit card transactions and generated revenues of about $150 million

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68 Part One Business in Society

annually. When asked why he did not “cash out,” Price responded, “I’ll ask my friends
who have sold their businesses, ‘Did that business get to the goal that you originally had
in mind?’ And they’re all happy they sold because of the phenomenal financial outcome.
But when I ask them, ‘Did you actually accomplish the nonfinancial goal that you set out
in starting a business?’ . . . they almost all say no.”

Price encountered hard times in 2008 when Gravity lost 20 percent of its revenue nearly
overnight because customers were running less volume through the system during the eco-
nomic recession. Price recalled that half of his staff was in his office asking for raises
and the other half was definitely afraid they were going to lose their jobs. So, he called
his employees together and explained that the company had eight months of cash in the
bank. “If we hold our expenses steady and just sell the same amount every month for five
months, we’ll get back to break-even and not have to do any benefit cuts, any layoffs, any-
thing like that,” he told his staff. Given Price’s response during the economically challeng-
ing times, it did not surprise his employees when he took the bold move of promising every
employee a salary of $70,000 annually.

Price’s commitment to a new company minimum wage captured national attention
given the soaring disparity between executives’ pay and that of their employees. In the
United States, where the pay gap was the greatest for any country, chief executives earned
more than 300 times what the average worker made (as discussed in more detail in
Chapter 13). Some people, like Gilded Age’s executive J. Pierpont Morgan and man-
agement scholar Peter Drucker, advocated a 20-to-1 executive to average employee ratio.
Price’s 1-to-1 ratio was unprecedented in the business community. “The market rate for
me as a CEO compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd,” explained Price,
who admitted that his only main extravagances were snowboarding and picking up the bar
bill for his friends. He drove a 12-year-old Audi, which he received in a barter for service
from the local dealer. “As much as I’m a capitalist, there is nothing in the market that is
making me do it,” said Price, referring to paying wages that would make it possible for his
employees “to go after their own American dream, buy a house and pay for their children’s
education.” After the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, the Securities and Exchange
Commission was supposed to require all publicly held companies to disclose the ratio of
CEO pay to the median pay of all other employees, but as of 2015 this legislative rule has
not been put into effect. Corporate executives vigorously oppose this rule, complaining
that it would be cumbersome and costly to implement.

Price admitted that hearing his employees’ problems with making ends meet on wages
that were well above the $7.50 per hour minimum wage or even at $40,000 a year “just
eats at me inside.” He wanted to address the social issue of wage inequality and felt that
as a business leader he was in a position to do something, but he wanted to do something
that would not result in raising prices for his customers or cutting back on services. Hayley
Vogt, a 24-year-old communications coordinator at Gravity who earned $45,000 annually,
said, “I’m completely blown away right now [after hearing Price’s announcement].” She
said she had worried about covering rent increases and a recent emergency room bill.
“Everyone is talking about this $15 minimum wage in Seattle and it’s nice to work some-
place where someone is actually doing something about it and not just talking about it.”

Sources: “Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price Named ‘Entrepreneur of 2014’ by Enterprise Magazine,” GeekWire, December 17,
2014,; and, “One Company’s New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year,” The New York Times, April 13, 2015,

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1. Is Price demonstrating elements of corporate social responsibility by his actions in this
case, or not?

2. What principles of corporate citizenship (using Exhibit 3.A) are evident in this case?
3. What arguments for and against corporate social responsibility (referring to Figure 3.3)

are relevant to this case?
4. Is Price acting like an executive of a firm that could be certified as a B Corporation?
5. What stage of global corporate citizenship (using Figure 3.5) is Gravity Payments oper-

ating at, and why do you think so?

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The world economy has become increasingly integrated, and many businesses have extended their
reach beyond national borders. Yet the process of globalization is controversial, and the involve-
ment of corporations in other nations is not always welcome. Doing business in diverse political
and economic systems and in societies with stark differences in wealth and income poses difficult
challenges. When a transnational corporation buys resources, manufactures products, or sells goods
and services in multiple countries, it is inevitably drawn into a web of global social and ethical issues.
Understanding what these issues are and how to manage them through collaborative action with
governments and civil society organizations is a vital skill for today’s managers.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 4-1 Defining globalization and classifying the major ways in which companies enter the global

LO 4-2 Identifying the international financial and trade institutions that have shaped the globalization pro-
cess in recent decades.

LO 4-3 Analyzing the benefits and costs of the globalization of business.

LO 4-4 Identifying the major types of political and economic systems in which companies operate across
the world.

LO 4-5 Understanding global inequalities of wealth and income and analyzing the special challenges of
serving those at the “bottom of the pyramid.”

LO 4-6 Assessing how businesses can work collaboratively with governments and the civil sector to
address global social issues.

Business in a
Globalized World


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In 2015, Newmont Mining Corp.’s plans to begin production at a major gold and copper
project in Peru seemed stalled indefinitely. Since 1993, in partnership with the World
Bank’s International Finance Corporation, Newmont had operated three open-pit gold
mines high in the Andes Mountains, six miles from the city of Cajamarca. The company
planned to develop a new surface mine about 15 miles away, to be called Minas Conga, in
what would be Peru’s biggest-ever mining operation. In 2011, the company’s board of
directors approved funding for the $4.8 billion project, which was scheduled to begin pro-
duction in 2015. But violent protests broke out, involving thousands of local residents
concerned that the new mine would require draining four natural lakes, drying up and
polluting the community’s water supplies. Newmont then suspended the project, saying it
could not proceed without “tranquility and social peace,” and noting that its global portfo-
lio enabled it to consider alternative development sites in Ghana, Canada, Indonesia, and
elsewhere. If it went forward, the Minas Conga project would employ five to seven thou-
sand workers during its construction, in a nation that was home to 8 million people who
lived in extreme poverty. In the 2010s, mining provided 60 percent of Peru’s exports and
30 percent of its tax revenue. The re-election of an opponent of Minas Conga as president
of the region in 2014, however, showed that the local population remained solidly against
the mining development.1

This complex episode captures much of the turmoil and controversy that surrounds
the globalization of business and its far-reaching social impacts. We live in a world that
seems increasingly small, more connected, and highly interdependent. It is a world in
which transnational companies such as Newmont Mining often bring much-needed tech-
nical know-how, capital, managerial experience, and jobs to poorer nations deeply in need
of them. Yet, in this instance, the company failed to navigate opposition from government
officials and civil society. How companies can best deal with the difficult challenges of
doing business in a global world of great complexity is the subject of this chapter. It will
also examine the respective roles of businesses, civil society organizations, and govern-
ments in addressing common global problems.

The Process of Globalization

Globalization refers to the increasing movement of goods, services, and capital across
national borders. Globalization is a process, that is, an ongoing series of interrelated
events. International trade and financial flows integrate the world economy, leading to the
spread of technology, culture, and politics. Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New
York Times and a well-known commentator, has described globalization as a system with
its own internal logic:

Globalization is not simply a trend or a fad but is, rather, an international system.
It is the system that has now replaced the old Cold War system, and, like that Cold
War system, globalization has its own rules and logic that today directly or indi-
rectly influence the politics, environment, geopolitics, and economics of virtually
every country in the world.2

The process of globalization is so pervasive that it affects all businesses—whether they
are small or large, local or multinational, or an employer of one or many.

1 “Peruvian Voters Favor Anti-Mining Candidates,” The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2014; “Peru’s Conga Mine Conflict:
Cajamarca Won’t Capitulate,” May 1, 2014,; and
2 Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Anchor Books, 2000), p. ix.

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Firms can enter and compete in the global marketplace in several ways. Many compa-
nies first build a successful business in their home country, and then export their products
or services to buyers in other countries. In other words, they develop global market chan-
nels for their products. Nestlé, for example, began in Switzerland, but now sells its food
and beverage products all over the world. Other firms begin in their home country, but
realize that they can cut costs by locating some or all of their global operations in another
country. This decision leads to establishing manufacturing plants or service operations
abroad. For example, the Ford Motor Company’s Fusion is manufactured in Mexico, its
Mondeo in Taiwan, and its Transit Connect vans in Turkey and Romania. BMW, which is
headquartered in Germany, has manufacturing facilities in 14 countries, including Brazil,
Thailand, Egypt, Indonesia, and the United States. Finally, a third strategy involves sub-
contracting manufacturing to suppliers located abroad. In other words, these companies
develop global supply chains. For example, in the apparel and shoe industries, companies
such as Nike, Gap, and Abercrombie & Fitch have extensive networks of suppliers outside
the United States—mostly in Asia—that make products of their design. Suppliers and their
relationship to lead firms are further discussed in Chapter 17.

These three strategies of globalization can be summarized in three words: sell, make,
and source. Today, many companies have all three elements of global business—market
channels, manufacturing operations, and supply chains.

Major Transnational Corporations
According to United Nations estimates, there are almost 104,000 transnational corporations
(TNCs) operating in the modern global economy (defined by the United Nations as firms
that control assets abroad). These corporations, in turn, have about 9 times that number of
affiliates, meaning suppliers, subcontractors, retailers, and other entities with which they
have some business relationship. These affiliates collectively produce more than 10 per-
cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and employ 80 million workers.3 The inter-
connectedness of the world’s businesses is a major reason why the financial crisis that
started in 2008 spread so quickly to almost all corners of the globe.

Although many firms conduct business across national boundaries, most global com-
merce is carried out by a small number of powerful firms. (Corporate power is further dis-
cussed in Chapter 3.) Who are these leading transnational corporations? Figure 4.1 lists the
top 10 nonfinancial transnational corporations, ranked in order of the value of the foreign
assets they control. Leading the list is General Electric, the American electrical equipment
and electronics conglomerate. Rounding out the group are several of the world’s leading
oil companies, automakers, and a telecommunications firm.4 The world’s major financial
institutions also extend across the globe; four of the five largest banks in the world, ranked
by assets, are in China.5 JP Morgan Chase, the largest U.S.-based bank, operates in more
than 60 countries.

Although much of global commerce is carried out by a small number of large firms,
globalization affects almost all businesses, whatever their size and reach. Even small, local
firms use products and services that originate abroad, and they often compete with other
businesses from around the world.

3 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Investment Report 2011, Web Table 34,
Data are for 2010.
4 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Investment Report 2014, Web Table 298,
Data are for 2013.
5 “Bank Rankings: Top Banks in the World,” Data are as of November, 2014.

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Another important aspect of globalization is the worldwide flow of capital. Foreign
direct investment (FDI) occurs when a company, individual, or fund invests money in
another country, for example, by buying shares of stock in or loaning money to a foreign
firm. The world economy is increasingly bound together by such cross-border flows of
capital. In 2013, FDI was $1.45 trillion, up somewhat from the previous year but still
below its pre-crisis average.6 An emerging trend in foreign direct investment is the rise of
sovereign wealth funds. These are funds operated by governments to invest their foreign
currency reserves. They are most commonly operated by nations that export large amounts
of oil and manufactured goods; the largest are run by Norway, the United Arab Emirates
(Abu Dhabi), China, Kuwait, and Singapore. In recent years, sovereign wealth funds have
made significant cross-border investments.

One aspect of globalization that has received recent attention is the effort of some com-
panies to avoid taxes in their home countries by merging with companies located in other
countries and shifting their headquarters there. This phenomenon, known as inversion, is
profiled in Exhibit 4.A.

International Financial and Trade Institutions
Global commerce is carried out in the context of a set of important international financial
and trade institutions (IFTIs). The most important of these are the World Bank, the Inter-
national Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. By setting the rules by which
international commerce is transacted, these institutions increasingly determine who wins
and who loses in the global economy.

The World Bank (WB) was set up in 1944, near the end of World War II, to provide
economic development loans to its member nations. Its main motivation at that time was
to help rebuild the war-torn economies of Europe. Today, the World Bank is one of the
world’s largest sources of economic development assistance; it provided almost $66 billion
in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees in 2014 for roads, dams, power plants,
and other infrastructure projects, as well as for education, health, and social services. The
bank gets its funds from dues paid by its member countries and from money it borrows in
the international capital markets. Representation on the bank’s governing board is based
on economic power; that is, countries have voting power based on the size of their econo-
mies. Not surprisingly, the United States and other rich nations dominate the bank.

6 UNCTAD, World Investment Report 2014,

Corporation Home Economy Industry
Foreign Assets
(in $ millions)

General Electric United States Electrical equipment $331,160
Royal Dutch Shell United Kingdom Petroleum 301,898
Toyota Motor Japan Motor vehicles 274,380
ExxonMobil United States Petroleum 231,033
Total France Petroleum 226,717
BP United Kingdom Petroleum 202,899
Vodafone United Kingdom Telecommunications 182,837
Volkswagen Group Germany Motor vehicles 176,656
Chevron United States Petroleum 175,736
Eni S.p.A. Italy Petroleum 141,021

The World’s Top
10 Nonfinancial
Ranked by Foreign

Source: United Nations, “The
World’s Top 100 Non-Financial
TNCs, Ranked by Foreign
Assets, 2013,”
All data are for the year 2013.

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The World Bank’s sister organization is the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Founded
at the same time as the bank (and today residing across the street from it in Washing-
ton, DC), the IMF has a somewhat narrower purpose: to stabilize the system of currency
exchange rates and international payments to enable member countries to participate in
global trade. It does this by lending foreign exchange to member countries. Like the World
Bank, the IMF sometimes imposes strict conditions on governments that receive its loans.
These conditions may include demands that governments cut spending, devalue their cur-
rencies, increase exports, liberalize financial markets, and reduce wages. These conditions
often lead to hardship.

One country that was particularly hard hit by loan conditions was Greece, one of
the poorest nations in the European Union. Beginning in 2010, the IMF, the
European Central Bank, and several European countries made a series of multibil-
lion-dollar loans to Greece to enable it to pay its bills and service its debts. In
exchange, the lenders imposed severe conditions, including sharp cuts in govern-
ment spending and the sale of public assets. The Greek economy shrank by a quar-
ter, the unemployment rate rose to 27 percent, and half its young people were
thrown out of work. Public pensions and salaries were slashed. The Greek people
voted in a new government whose candidates had called the austerity measures

Globalization to Cut the Tax Bill

Businesses today increasingly operate across international boundaries. But they are taxed by national gov-
ernments. This reality gives rise to inversion: a strategy of acquiring or merging with a foreign firm in order
to reduce corporate tax obligations at home. For example, in 2014 Burger King (based in the United States)
acquired Tim Horton’s, a Canadian coffee-and-donut chain, for $11.5 billion. After the acquisition, Burger
King reincorporated in Canada and renamed itself Restaurant Brands International. According to a study by
Americans for Tax Fairness, the maneuver could save the company $275 million in U.S. taxes between 2015
and 2018.
How does inversion work? By law, the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, while it is lower in many
other industrial countries. (To cite just a few examples, the rate is 26.5 percent in Canada, 21 percent in the
United Kingdom, and 12.5 percent in Ireland.) Companies that merge with a foreign firm can take advan-
tage of this difference by stashing cash abroad, loading up their U.S. subsidiary with debt, buying stock
internally, and other complex arrangements that enable them to avoid paying taxes on their earnings at the
higher U.S. rate.
Between the 1980s, when the technique was first used, about 50 inversions have taken place—but
the pace picked up in the 2010s, with half of all inversions occurring since the 2008–09 financial crisis. In
response, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced new rules in 2014 that would make inversions
less attractive going forward, but would not affect companies that had already completed their mergers. In
the wake of these rules, several inversions that were underway—including drugmaker AbbVie’s $54 billion
acquisition of Ireland’s Shire—collapsed.
Some companies realized that whatever the tax benefits, inversion could hurt their public image and
offend customers. Walgreen’s, the drugstore chain, backed off from an inversion in 2014 after public push-
back, including a letter from a U.S. senator that warned that the company’s customers were “deeply patriotic
and will not support Walgreen’s decision to turn its back on the United States.” In announcing its change of
plans, Walgreen’s noted that it was “mindful of the ongoing public reaction to a potential inversion” and “its
unique role as an iconic American retailer.”

Sources: “Walgreen Turns Down Inversion to Cut Tax Bill,” The New York Times, August 6, 2014; “New Corporate Tax Shelter: A
Merger Abroad,” The New York Times, October 8, 2014; “AbbVie, Shire Terminate Year’s Biggest Deal,” The Wall Street Journal,
October 20, 2014; and Americans for Tax Fairness, “A Whopper of a Tax Dodge: How Burger King’s Inversion Could Shortchange
America,” December, 2014.

Exhibit 4.A

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“waterboarding” and advocated for a restructuring of the country’s debt. In 2015,
Greece narrowly avoided default after agreeing to another round of budget cuts and
tax increases in exchange for additional aid.7

Significant progress has been made to reduce indebtedness by poor countries. By the
mid-2000s, many developing countries had accumulated huge debts to the World Bank,
the IMF, and other lenders. The total amount of money owed was almost $3 trillion. One
of the unintended consequences of past loans was persistent poverty, because a large share
of many nations’ earnings went to pay off debt rather than to develop the economy or
improve the lives of citizens. In response, many industrialized nations extended aid to
heavily indebted countries to enable them to pay down loans to the World Bank, IMG, and
other lenders. By 2014, more than $75 billion in debt relief had been extended to 35 heav-
ily indebted countries, significantly reducing these nations’ payments and enabling them to
direct more resources to alleviating poverty.8

However, problems remained. Poor countries still owed billions more, and the world
financial crisis weakened their ability to pay—and the ability of developed countries to
offer aid. And, so-called vulture funds sought to take advantage of the indebted countries,
a situation that is profiled in Exhibit 4.B.

The final member of the triumvirate of IFTIs is the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The WTO, founded in 1995 as a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT), is an international body that establishes the ground rules for trade among nations.
Most of the world’s nations are members of the WTO, which is based in Switzerland.
Its major objective is to promote free trade; that is, to eliminate barriers to trade among
nations, such as quotas, duties, and tariffs. Unlike the WB and the IMF, the WTO does not
lend money or foreign exchange; it simply sets the rules for international trade. The WTO
conducts multiyear negotiations, called rounds, on various trade-related topics, rotating its

7 “Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained,” The New York Times, [updated] September 21, 2015; “Greece’s Agonized Cry to Europe,”
The New York Times, January 26, 2015; and Lionel Reynolds, “The Greek Economic Crisis, the Social Impacts of Austerity,
and Debunking the Myths,” February 13, 2015,
8 “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, Statistical Update,”,
December 2014.

Vulture Funds and Heavily Indebted Nations

A “vulture fund” is a private equity fund (also called a hedge fund) that buys the debt of weak companies
or heavily indebted countries with the intention of making a profit. (The term analogizes these investors
to vultures, birds of prey that feed on dead or dying animals.) For example, when Argentina defaulted on
about $81 billion of loans in 2001, a hedge fund called Elliott Management bought some of these defaulted
loans at a deep discount. It then sued, demanding that Argentina pay back the loans at full face value with
interest—about $1.3 billion, much more than it had paid. In 2012, a U.S. judge ruled in favor of the hedge
fund—and said that until Argentina paid what it owed to Elliott Management, it was barred from paying any
of its creditors (who had already agreed to accept less). In 2014, talks to settle the matter collapsed. Both the
IMF and the World Bank said that the behavior of vulture funds like Elliott Management threatened the finan-
cial recovery of fragile economies. “When vulture funds sue for such exorbitant amounts, it’s clearly taking
away money that should be invested in health, education, infrastructure, and other social problems, and goes
to line the pockets of already wealthy investors,” said a representative of the nongovernmental organization
(NGO) Africa Action.

Sources: “Argentina Finds Relentless Foe in Paul Singer’s Hedge Fund,” The New York Times, July 30, 2014; “Vulture Funds
Prey on Poor Debtor Nations,” Inter Press Service (Johannesburg, South Africa), August 19, 2009; and Jubilee Network, “Vulture

Exhibit 4.B

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meetings among different cities. The most recent negotiations, conducted in Bali, Indone-
sia, in 2013, reduced import tariffs and agricultural subsidies.

Under the WTO’s most favored nation rule, member countries may not discriminate
against foreign products for any reason. All import restrictions are illegal unless proven
scientifically, for example, on the basis that a product is unsafe. If countries disagree about
the interpretation of this or any other WTO rule, they can bring a complaint before the
WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), a panel of appointed experts, which meets behind
closed doors. For example, China complained to the DSB that India had tried to ban imports
of Chinese toys to protect its own toy industry, a possible violation of WTO rules.9 Usually,
member countries comply voluntarily with the DSB’s rulings. If they do not, the DSB can
allow the aggrieved nation to take retaliatory measures, such as imposing tariffs. Rulings
are binding; the only way a decision can be overruled is if every member country opposes it.

These three international financial and trade institutions are important because no busi-
ness can operate across national boundaries without complying with the rules set by the
WTO, and many businesses in the developing world are dependent on World Bank and
IMF loans for their very lifeblood. The policies these institutions adopt, therefore, have
much to do with whether or not globalization is perceived as a positive or negative force, a
subject to which we turn next.

The Benefits and Costs of Globalization

Globalization has both benefits and costs, and not all countries and stakeholders are
affected equally. In this section, we present some of the arguments advanced by both sides
in the debate over this important issue.

Benefits of Globalization
Proponents of globalization point to its many benefits. One of the most important of these
is that globalization tends to increase economic productivity. That means, simply, that
more is produced with the same effort.

Why should that be? As the economist David Ricardo first pointed out, productivity
rises more quickly when countries produce goods and services for which they have a nat-
ural talent. He called this the theory of comparative advantage. Suppose, for example,
that one country had a climate and terrain ideally suited for raising sheep, giving it an
advantage in the production of wool and woolen goods. A second country had a favorable
combination of iron, coal, and water power that allowed it to produce high-grade steel. The
first country would benefit from trading its woolen goods for the second country’s steel,
and vice versa; and the world’s economy overall would be more productive than if both
countries had tried to make everything they needed for themselves. In other words, in the
context of free trade, specialization (everyone does what they are best at) makes the world
economy as a whole more efficient, so living standards rise.

Many countries today have developed a specialization in one or another skill or indus-
try. India, with its excellent system of technical education, has become a world power-
house in the production of software engineers. China has become expert in electronics
manufacturing. France and Italy, with their strong networks of skilled craftspeople and
designers, are acknowledged leaders in the world’s high fashion and footwear design
industries. The United States, with its concentration of actors, directors, special effects
experts, and screenwriters, is the global headquarters for the movie industry.

9 Information about this and other cases heard by the Dispute Settlement Body is available at

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Comparative advantage can come from a number of possible sources, including natural
resources; the skills, education, or experience of a critical mass of people; or an existing
production infrastructure.

Globalization also tends to reduce prices for consumers. If a shopper in the United
States goes into Walmart to buy a shirt, he or she is likely to find one at a very reasonable
price. Walmart sources its apparel from all over the world, enabling it to push down pro-
duction costs. Globalization also benefits consumers by giving them access to a wide range
of diverse goods and the latest “big thing.” Teenagers in Malaysia can enjoy the latest
Johnny Depp or Will Smith movie, while American children can play with new Nintendo
Wii games from Japan.

For the developing world, globalization also brings benefits. It helps entrepreneurs the world
over by giving all countries access to foreign investment funds to support economic develop-
ment. Globalization also transfers technology. In a competitive world marketplace, the best
ideas and newest innovations spread quickly. Multinational corporations train their employees
and partners how to make the fastest computer chips, the most productive food crops, and the
most efficient light bulbs. In many nations of the developing world, globalization has meant
more manufacturing jobs in export sectors and training for workers eager to enhance their skills.

The futurist Allen Hammond identifies two additional benefits of globalization. First, he
says that world trade has the potential of supporting the spread of democracy and freedom.

The very nature of economic activity in free markets . . . requires broad access to
information, the spread of competence, and the exercise of individual decision mak-
ing throughout the workforce—conditions that are more compatible with free soci-
eties and democratic forms of government than with authoritarian regimes.10

Second, according to Hammond, global commerce can reduce military conflict by acting
as a force that binds disparate peoples together on the common ground of business interac-
tion. “Nations that once competed for territorial dominance,” he writes, “will now compete
for market share, with money that once supported military forces invested in new ports,
telecommunications, and other infrastructure.” In this view, global business can become
both a stabilizing force and a conduit for Western ideas about democracy and freedom.

Costs of Globalization
If globalization has all these benefits, why are so many individuals and organizations so
critical of it? The answer is complex. Just as some gain from globalization, others are hurt
by it. From the perspective of its victims, globalization does not look nearly so attractive.

One of the costs of globalization is job insecurity. As businesses move manufacturing
across national borders in search of cheaper labor, workers at home are laid off. Jobs in
the domestic economy are lost as imports replace homemade goods and services. In the
American South, for example, tens of thousands of jobs in the textile industry have been
lost, as jobs have shifted to low-labor cost areas of the world, leaving whole communities
devastated. In the past, mainly manufacturing was affected by the shift of jobs abroad;
more recently, clerical, white-collar, and professional jobs have also been “offshored.”
Many customer service calls originating in the United States are now answered by opera-
tors in the Philippines and India. The back office operations of many banks—sorting and
recording check transactions, for example—are done in India and China. Aircraft manu-
facturers are using aeronautical specialists in Russia to design parts for new planes. Econ-
omists have estimated that around one in four jobs in the United States may be potentially

10 Allen Hammond, Which World? Scenarios for the 21st Century (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1998), p. 30.

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“offshorable.”11 Even when jobs are not actually relocated, wages may be driven down
because companies facing foreign competition try to keep their costs in check. Much of the
opposition to globalization in affluent nations comes from people who feel their own jobs,
pay, and livelihoods threatened by workers abroad who can do their work more cheaply.

Some evidence suggests a countertrend, as some companies have moved produc-
tion back to the United States—in part, as a way to gain greater control over the
supply chain. Wages have increased in China and many other developing nations,
while wages gains in the United States have stagnated. Productivity is considerably
higher in the United States than in China. And, small businesses in particular have
found that solving everyday production problems with a contractor halfway around
the globe can be daunting. “If we have an issue in manufacturing, in America we
can walk down to the plant floor,” explained the founder of a business that made
emergency lights for homeowners. “We can’t do that in China.” The company had
recently relocated production from China to a facility near its headquarters
in California.12

Not only workers in rich countries are affected by globalization. When workers in Indo-
nesia began organizing for higher wages, Nike Corporation moved much of its production
to Vietnam and China. Many Indonesian workers lost their jobs. Some call this feature of
global capitalism the race to the bottom.

Another cost of globalization is that environmental and labor standards may be weak-
ened as companies seek manufacturing sites where regulations are most lax. Just as com-
panies may desire locations offering the cheapest labor, they may also search for locations
with few environmental protections; weak regulation of occupational health and safety,
hours of work, and discrimination; and few rights for unions. For example, the so-called
gold coast of southeastern China has become a world manufacturing center for many prod-
ucts, including electronics and toys. An undercover team investigating conditions there
found that many workers were paid up to a month late, were expected to work with dan-
gerous machines without training or safety equipment, and were fined for using the toilet
without permission.13 Low wages, long hours, and weak health and safety and environmen-
tal regulations—and lax enforcement of the laws that do exist—are a major draw for the
companies that manufacture in factories in China’s industrial zones.

A related concern is that the World Trade Organization’s most favored nation rules
make it difficult for individual nations to adopt policies promoting environmental or social
objectives, if these have the effect of discriminating against products from another country.

For example, the United States banned the importation of Indonesian clove cigarettes,
saying that the sweet-flavored cigarettes attracted younger smokers, drawing them
into nicotine addiction and violating U.S. tobacco control laws. Indonesia brought a
complaint before the WTO’s dispute settlement body. In 2012, the WTO ruled in
Indonesia’s favor, saying that because the United States permitted the sale of another
flavored cigarette—menthols—it had acted in a discriminatory way by excluding
Indonesian clove cigarettes. The dispute was finally settled in 2014, after Indonesia
agreed to the ban in exchange for other concessions from the United States.14

11 “Offshoring (or Offshore Outsourcing) and Job Loss among U.S. Workers,” Congressional Research Service, January 21, 2011.
12 “Small U.S. Manufacturers Give Up on ‘Made in China,’” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 21, 2012.
13 “Revealed: True Cost of the Christmas Toys We Buy from China’s Factories, The Observer [London], December 3, 2011.
14 “U.S., Indonesia Settle Fight over Clove Cigarettes,” The Hill, October 3, 2014. Details on this and other cases before the
WTO’s dispute settlement body are available at

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Critics of globalization say that incidents such as this one show that free trade rules are
being used to restrict the right of sovereign nations to make their own laws setting health or
environmental standards for imported products.

Another cost of globalization is that it erodes regional and national cultures and under-
mines cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity. In other words, global commerce makes
us all very much the same. Is a world in which everyone is drinking Coke, watching Holly-
wood movies, texting on an iPhone, and wearing Gap jeans a world we want, or not? Some
have argued that the deep anti-Americanism present in many parts of the world reflects
resentment at the penetration of the values of dominant U.S.–based transnational corpora-
tions into every corner of the world.

With respect to the point that globalization promotes democracy, critics charge that
market capitalism is just as compatible with despotism as it is with freedom. Indeed, trans-
national corporations are often drawn to nations that are governed by antidemocratic or
military regimes, because they are so effective at controlling labor and blocking efforts to
protect the environment. For example, Unocal’s joint-venture collaboration to build a gas
pipeline with the military government of Myanmar (Burma), a notorious abuser of human
rights, may have brought significant financial benefits to the petroleum company.

Figure 4.2 summarizes the major points in the discussion about the costs and benefits
of globalization.

This discussion raises the very real possibility that globalization may benefit the world
economy as a whole, while simultaneously hurting many individuals and localities. An
ongoing challenge to business, government, and society is to find ways to extend the bene-
fits of globalization to all, while mitigating its adverse effects.15

Doing Business in a Diverse World

Doing business in other nations is much more than a step across a geographical bound-
ary; it is a step into different social, political, cultural, and economic realities. As shown
in Chapters 1, 2, and 3, even businesses operating in one community or one nation can-
not function successfully without considering a wide variety of stakeholder needs and

15 For arguments for and against globalization, and on strategies to make the world’s governing institutions more effective,
see Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); and Joseph E. Stiglitz, Making
Globalization Work (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007).

Benefits of Globalization Costs of Globalization

Increases economic productivity. Causes job insecurity.

Reduces prices for consumers. Weakens environmental and labor standards.

Gives developing countries access to foreign
investment funds to support economic

Prevents individual nations from adopting policies
promoting environmental or social objectives, if
these discriminate against products from another

Transfers technology. Erodes regional and national cultures and
undermines cultural, linguistic, and religious

Spreads democracy and freedom, and reduces
military conflict.

Is compatible with despotism.

Benefits and Costs of

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interests. When companies operate globally, the number of stakeholders to be considered
in decision making, and the diversity of their interests, increases dramatically.

Comparative Political and Economic Systems
The many nations of the world differ greatly in their political, social, and economic sys-
tems. One important dimension of this diversity is how power is exercised, that is, the
degree to which a nation’s people may freely exercise their democratic rights. Democracy
refers broadly to the presence of political freedom. Arthur Lewis, a Nobel laureate in eco-
nomics, described it this way: “The primary meaning of democracy is that all who are
affected by a decision should have the right to participate in making that decision, either
directly or through chosen representatives.” According to the United Nations, democracy
has four defining features:16

∙ Fair elections, in which citizens may freely choose their leaders from among candidates
representing more than one political party.

∙ An independent media, in which journalists and citizens may express their political
views without fear of censorship or punishment.

∙ Separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of

∙ An open society where citizens have the right to form their own independent organiza-
tions to pursue social, religious, and cultural goals.

One of the truly remarkable facts about the past century has been the spread of demo-
cratic rights for the first time to many nations around the world. Consider, for example, that
at the beginning of the 20th century no country in the world had universal suffrage (all citi-
zens can vote); today, the majority of countries do. One hundred and forty of the world’s
nearly 200 countries now hold multiparty elections, the highest number ever.17 The collapse
of communist party rule in the former Soviet Union and its satellites in eastern and central
Europe in the early 1990s was followed by the first open elections ever in these countries.
These changes led some observers to call the end of the 20th century the “third wave of

In an extraordinary development, popular movements that became known as the
“Arab Spring” swept through much of northern Africa, the Persian Gulf region,
and the Middle East in 2011 and 2012, as ordinary people demanded full political
rights. In Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, long-time strongmen were deposed, and peo-
ple demanded free elections to choose their successors. Widespread civil resistance
occurred in Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain, and Yemen; and Syria fell into civil war
when its dictatorial leader refused to give up power. In a speech in Israel in 2012,
Ban Ki Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, declared, “It is hard not to
view the dramatic events of the past year as a fulfillment of our most noble aspira-
tions. . . . Everywhere people are experiencing a fundamental human yearning; a
universal hunger for freedom, dignity, and human rights.18

Despite these developments, many countries still lack basic democratic rights. Single-
party rule by communist parties remains a reality in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and the People’s

16 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000),
ch. 3, “Inclusive Democracy Secures Rights,” pp. 56–71. The quotation from Arthur Lewis appears on p. 56.
17 An interactive world map showing what countries hold free elections is available at
18 “All Hail the Arab Spring,” February 2, 2012,

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Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). Military dictatorships, that is, repressive
regimes ruled by dictators who exercise total power through control of the armed forces,
are in place in, among others, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, and Eritrea.19 The rights of women
to full societal participation—and the rights of all citizens to organize in support of cul-
tural and religious goals—are restricted in a number of Arab states, including Egypt, Syria,
and Saudi Arabia. According to United Nations estimates, 106 countries still limit import-
ant civil and political freedoms.

The degree to which human rights are protected also varies widely across nations.
Human rights, further discussed in Chapters 5 and 17, refer broadly to the rights and priv-
ileges accorded to all people, simply by virtue of being human, for example, the rights to
a decent standard of living, free speech, religious freedom, and due process of law, among
others. Fundamental human rights have been codified in a number of international agree-
ments, the most important of which is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.20
The second half of the 20th century was a period of great advances in human rights in many
regions, and over half of the world’s nations have now ratified all of the United Nations’
human right covenants. Nonetheless, many human rights problems remain. Consider the
following examples:

∙ More than 6 million children die each year before their fifth birthday. Most of these
deaths are due to diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, which are prevent-
able with proper vaccinations, nutrition, and basic medical care. Although this number
has fallen by 50 percent since 1990, it is still tragically high.21

∙ Gross violations of human rights have not been eliminated. Genocide, mass murder
of innocent civilians, has occurred all too recently in Syria, Rwanda, Iraq, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, the Congo, and Sudan.

∙ The International Labor Organization estimated in 2014 that 21 million people world-
wide were victims of forced labor, trafficking, and human slavery. Their labor gen-
erated annual profits of $150 billion. (The topic of forced labor is further explored
in Chapter 17.) More than half of them were women and girls, who had been forced
into prostitution or domestic work.22 The efforts of a major hotel chain, The Carlson
Companies, to prevent the use of their facilities for prostitution or child trafficking is
described in a case at the end of this book.

∙ Minority groups and indigenous peoples in many nations still lack basic political and
social rights. In Nepal, the life expectancy of “untouchables,” the lowest caste, is fully
15 years less than that of Brahmins, the highest caste.

The absence of key human rights in many nations remains a significant issue for com-
panies transacting business there.

Another dimension of difference among nations today is how economic assets are con-
trolled, that is, the degree of economic freedom. On one end of the continuum are societies
in which assets are privately owned and exchanged in a free and open market. Such free
enterprise systems are based on the principle of voluntary association and exchange. In such
a system, people with goods and services to sell take them voluntarily to the marketplace,
seeking to exchange them for money or other goods or services. Political and economic

19 For profiles of the dictators of these nations, see Parade Magazine, “The World’s 10 Worst Dictators,” April 4, 2013,
20 For more information on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other United Nations agreements on human rights,
see the website of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights at
21 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data on child mortality are available online at
22 ILO, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office, 2014.

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freedoms are related: as people gain more control over government decisions they often
press for greater economic opportunity; open markets may give people the resources to
participate effectively in politics. But this is not always the case. The particular situation of
China with respect to political and economic freedom is explored in Exhibit 4.C.

At the other end of the continuum are systems of central state control, in which eco-
nomic power is concentrated in the hands of government officials and political authorities.
The central government owns the property that is used to produce goods and services.
Private ownership may be forbidden or greatly restricted, and most private markets are
illegal. Very few societies today operate on the basis of strict central state control of the
economy. More common is a system of mixed free enterprise and central state control in
which some industries are state controlled, and others are privately owned. For example,
in Nigeria, the oil industry is controlled by a government-owned enterprise that operates in
partnership with foreign companies such as Shell and Chevron, but many other industries
are privately controlled. In the social democracies of Scandinavia, such as Norway, the
government operates some industries but not others. In the United States, the government
temporarily took partial ownership in some banks, including Citigroup, as they faltered
during the financial crisis.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has scored the nations of the
world according to an index of economic freedom defined as “the fundamental
rights of every human being to control his or her own labor and property.” In eco-
nomically free societies, governments “refrain from coercion or restraint of liberty
beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.” Among the freest
nations in 2015, by this measure, were Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand;
among the most repressed were Cuba, Venezuela, and—the least free in the world—
North Korea. The United States ranked twelfth out of 178 countries.23

23 Available at

China: A Case of Authoritarian Capitalism?

Democracy, a political system in which citizens choose their own leaders and may openly express their ideas,
and capitalism, an economic system in which the means of creating wealth are privately owned and con-
trolled, have historically often developed in tandem. The two are not always coupled, however. During the
early years of the 20th century, for example, capitalism coexisted with nondemocratic, fascist governments
in Germany, Spain, and Japan. More recently, scholars have coined the term “authoritarian capitalism” to
refer to modern states that combine elements of a market economy with political control by nonelected
elites. A prime example is China. In its drive for economic development, the Chinese government has granted
considerable freedom to private individuals to own property, invest, and innovate. The result has been very
rapid growth in much of the country over the past two decades. At the same time, the Chinese commu-
nist authorities have vigorously held onto political power and suppressed dissent. As further explored in
Chapter 12, the Chinese government operates one of the most sophisticated systems of Internet censorship
in the world. It has also held onto ownership of some big companies, such as the China National Petroleum
Corporation and China Mobile. In what direction will China and other authoritarian capitalist nations evolve in
the future? “Some believe these countries could ultimately become liberal democracies through a combina-
tion of internal development, increasing affluence, and outside influence,” commented the political scientist
Azar Gat. “Alternatively, they may have enough weight to create a new nondemocratic but economically
advanced Second World.”

Sources: “The Rise of State Capitalism,” The Economist, January 21, 2012; Azar Gat, “The Return of the Authoritarian Capitalists,”
International Herald Tribune, June 14, 2007; and “The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007.

Exhibit 4.C

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Global Inequality and the Bottom of the Pyramid
Nations also differ greatly in their overall levels of economic and social development. Ours
is a world of great inequalities. Nations themselves differ in economic development, and
individual wealth and income varies widely within and among nations.

Inequality may be measured in two ways: by wealth and income. Wealth refers to assets
that a person accumulates and he or she owns at a point in time. Levels of wealth can be
expressed as a pyramid, as shown in Figure 4.3. Most of the world’s population—about
70 percent—are at the base, or bottom, of the pyramid, owning less than $10,000 worth of
assets. They might own some work tools, household furnishings, and a bicycle or used car.
More than 90 percent of adults in India and Africa (and only 20 percent of adults in devel-
oped countries) are at the bottom of the pyramid. Close to a quarter of the world’s people
are considered middle class, with assets between $10,000 and $100,000. This group is
present in all countries, but is growing especially fast in China (whose share of the world’s
middle class has doubled since 2000). These individuals might have equity in a home and
some retirement savings. High wealth individuals, with assets above $100,000, are concen-
trated in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia—with growing numbers in China.
At the top of the pyramid—just over one-half of 1 percent of the world’s population—are
millionaires. Forty-one percent of these millionaires reside in the United States; 39 percent
in Europe; 8 percent in Japan; and 3 percent in China.

Another way to conceptualize inequality is in terms of income—how much a person
earns in a day or a year. Some theorists have defined the bottom of the pyramid as individu-
als who earn below $3000 a year in local purchasing power. This varies from place to place;
for example, this would amount to less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, and $1.89
in Ghana. By this measure, about 4 billion people globally are part of this segment.24

24 World Resources Institute and International Finance Corporation, “The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at
the Base of the Pyramid,” March 2007,

The Global Wealth

Source: Credit Suisse, Global
Wealth Report 2014, Figure 1,
p. 24. Used by permission.

High wealth
373 million people (8 percent)

$100,000 to $1 million

Middle Class
1010 million people (22%)

Assets $10,000 to $100,000

Base of the Pyramid
3282 million people (70%)
Assets less than $10,000

of the

35 million

people (<1 percent)
>$1 million

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Whether measured by assets or income, historically, major transnational corporations
have focused most of their attention on the top of the pyramid and, to some extent, the mid-
dle. But today, they are increasingly facing the challenge of bringing products, services,
and employment to the many at the bottom of the pyramid. As the scholar C. K. Prahalad
argued in his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, this group, while often
overlooked, represents an incredible business opportunity. Although the poor earn little
individually, collectively they represent a vast market—and they often pay a “poverty pre-
mium,” creating an opening for companies able to deliver quality products at lower prices.
The size of this market has been estimated at as high as $5 trillion.25 Many businesses are
learning that focusing on the bottom of the pyramid can foster social development and
provide employment in underserved communities—and reap profits.

For example, S.C. Johnson, a global manufacturer of household cleaning supplies
and other consumer chemicals, launched a business called WOW in rural Ghana. In
partnership with the Gates Foundation and the Center for Sustainable Global Enter-
prise, the company developed a packet of products specifically designed to help
poor families prevent malaria, an illness spread by mosquitoes. Insect repellants and
cleaning products were provided in refillable containers and sold by subscription
in small amounts to groups of homemakers, village by village. “Since our initial
launch of WOW, we’ve learned so much about what consumers in Ghana want and
how to construct a sustainable business model in the process,” said the company’s
vice president of international markets marketing in 2014.26

One product that people in poor countries often desperately need is loans with which to
operate or expand their farms or small businesses. Commercial banks have historically
been reluctant to make small loans to people with little or no collateral. In response to this
need, a new system has emerged called microfinance. This occurs when financial organiza-
tions provide loans to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups (a community of
borrowers) who traditionally lack access to banking or related services. One of the most
recognized microfinance institutions is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank
and its affiliated foundation and partners have had amazing results; by 2015, 1.2 million
microloans had been made, nearly 10 million people had been helped, and $225 million
had been leveraged to support projects in 13 countries.27

In Indonesia, a midsized bank called BTPN grew rapidly after it decided in 2008 to
expand into microloans to what its executives called the “productive poor.” BTPN
set up numerous small branches in rural areas and equipped staff with portable
devices that could scan fingerprints, to facilitate doing business with illiterate cus-
tomers. Typical loans were for $4,000 or less, with a term of a year or two, made to
traders and small shopkeepers. As the economy rebounded from the global finan-
cial crisis, many entrepreneurs were eager to grow their businesses. BTPN’s model
benefited both these customers and the bank, which by 2011 had become one of the
most profitable in Indonesia.28

25 C.K. Prahalad, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (Philadelphia; Wharton School Publishing, 2004). See also C.K.
Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart, “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid,” Strategy + Business, No. 26, 2002.
26 “SC Johnson Expands WOW Business Concept in Ghana,” press release, October 8, 2014, and “Reality Check at the Bottom
of the Pyramid,” Harvard Business Review, June 2012.
27 Data available at
28 Gardner Bell, Ryan Nelson, and Carl Zeithaml, “BTPN (A): Banking for the Bottom of the Pyramid in Indonesia,” William
Davidson Institute of the University of Michigan, January 26, 2015; and The Economist, “Rich Pickings: Microlending Has
Helped Make BTPN One of Asia’s Most Profitable Banks,” April 20, 2011.

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Microfinance has developed into a global trend, as evidenced by the annual Global
Microcredit Summit (GMS), where thousands of business leaders and government rep-
resentatives from more than 100 countries have gathered to meet since 1997. At its most
recent meeting, the GMS announced that its members had collectively reached over 195
million clients; assuming a family size of five, microfinance had helped more than one-
seventh of the world’s people.29

Collaborative Partnerships for Global Problem Solving

As the preceding section suggested, doing business in a diverse world is exceptionally
challenging for businesses. One solution to the challenging questions facing transnational
corporations is to approach them collectively, through a collaborative process. An emerg-
ing trend is the development of collaborative, multisector partnerships focused on particu-
lar social issues or problems in the global economy. These partnerships have been termed
global action networks (GANs).30 This final section of Chapter 4 describes this approach.

A Three-Sector World
The term sector refers to broad divisions of a whole. In this context, it refers to major parts
or spheres of society, such as business (the private sector), government (the public sec-
tor), and civil society. Civil society comprises nonprofit, educational, religious, community,
family, and interest-group organizations; that is, social organizations that do not have a
commercial or governmental purpose.

The process of globalization has spurred development of civil society. In recent decades,
the world has witnessed the creation and growth of large numbers of nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) concerned with such issues as environmental risk, labor practices,
worker rights, community development, and human rights. (NGOs are also called civil society
organizations or civil sector organizations.) The number of NGOs accredited by the United
Nations has soared in recent years, rising from 1000 in 1996 to more than 4000 in 2015. This
figure counts just major organizations.31 Worldwide, the total number of international NGOs
is estimated to be around 55,000.32 (Many more NGOs operate regionally or locally.)

Experts attribute the growth of NGOs to several factors, including the new architec-
ture of global economic and political relationships. As the Cold War has ended, with
democratic governments replacing dictatorships, greater openness has emerged in many
societies. More people, with more views, are free to express their pleasure or displeasure
with government, business, or one another. NGOs form around specific issues or broad
concerns (environment, human rights) and become voices that must be considered in the
public policy debates that ensue.

Each of the three major sectors that participate in global action networks—business,
government, and civil society—has distinctive resources and competencies, as well as
weaknesses. For example, businesses have access to capital, specialized technical knowl-
edge, networks of commercial relationships, and the management skills to get projects
completed on time and on budget. On the other hand, the short-term orientation of many
businesses may lead them to disregard the long-term impacts of their actions on others.
For their part, government agencies have knowledge of public policy, an ability to enforce
rules, and revenue from taxation, but are often inflexible, slow to mobilize, and poorly
29 See the Global Microcredit Summit website at
30 Steve Waddell, Global Action Networks: Creating Our Future Together (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
31 Data available at
32 Global Civil Society 2012 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

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coordinated. Finally, NGOs often enjoy strong community knowledge, volunteer assets,
and inspirational leaders, but may lack financial resources and technical skill and may suf-
fer from a narrow, parochial focus.33 One model highlighting various attributes of actors in
the business, government, and civil society sectors is presented in Figure 4.4.

Many businesses have realized that these differences across sectors can be a resource
to be exploited. In this view, global action networks—alliances among organizations from
the three sectors—can draw on the unique capabilities of each and overcome particular
weaknesses that each has.

One example of a global action network was the Kimberley Process, an initiative to
end the trade in conflict diamonds—gemstones that had been mined or stolen by reb-
els fighting internationally recognized governments. The problem was that combatants
in civil wars in Africa had seized control of diamond mines in Sierra Leone, Angola,
and the Congo, and were selling uncut diamonds to fund their operations. Concerned
that the image of diamonds as a symbol of romance would be tarnished, the World
Diamond Congress and the international diamond company DeBeers joined forces
with the governments of nations with legitimate diamond industries and NGOs cam-
paigning to end civil violence. Together, these parties developed the Kimberley Pro-
cess, a system for tracking diamonds all the way from the mine to the jewelry shop, so
that consumers could be assured that their gem was “conflict-free.”

In this case, although the interests of the parties were somewhat different, they were
each able to bring their distinctive capabilities to bear to accomplish a common objective.
A similar multiparty effort to ban conflict minerals—ones mined in war-torn areas of the
Congo—is profiled in the discussion case at the end of this chapter. Other applications of
the principle of cross-sector networks and collaborations are explored in Chapters 10 and 17.

The process of globalization presents today’s business leaders with both great promise
and great challenge. Despite periodic global economic downturns and the ever-present
threat of war and terrorism, the world’s economy continues to become more integrated

Business Government Civil Society

Organizational form For-profit Governmental Nonprofit

Goods produced Private Public Group

Primary control agent Owners Voters/rulers Communities

Primary power form Money Laws, police, fines Traditions, values

Primary goals Wealth creation Societal order Expression of values

Assessment frame Profitability Legality Justice

Resources Capital assets, technical
knowledge, production skills

Tax revenue, policy knowledge,
regulatory and enforcement power

Community knowledge,
inspirational leadership

Weaknesses Short-term focus, lack of
concern for external impacts

Bureaucratic, slow-moving, poorly
coordinated internally

Amateurish, lack of
financial resources,
parochial perspective

FIGURE 4.4 Distinctive Attributes of the Three Major Sectors

Source: Adapted from Steven Waddell, “Core Competences: A Key Force in Business-Government-Civil Society Collaborations,” Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Autumn
2002, pp. 43–56, Tables 1 and 2. Used by permission.

33 This paragraph draws on Steven Waddell, “Core Competences: A Key Force in Business-Government-Civil Society Collabo-
rations,” Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Autumn 2002, pp. 43–56.

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Key Terms nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs), 85
race to the bottom, 78
transnational corporation
(TNC), 72
World Bank (WB), 73
World Trade Organization
(WTO), 75

anti-Americanism, 79
bottom of the pyramid, 83
central state control, 82
civil society, 85
debt relief, 75
democracy, 80
foreign direct investment
(FDI), 73
free enterprise system, 81

global action network
(GAN), 85
globalization, 71
international financial and
trade institution (IFTI), 73
International Monetary
Fund (IMF), 74
microfinance, 84
military dictatorships, 81

Resources World Trade Organization International Monetary Fund World Bank

∙ Globalization refers to the increasing movement of goods, services, and capital across
national borders. Firms can enter and compete in the global marketplace by exporting
products and services; locating operations in another country; or buying raw materials,
components, or supplies from sellers abroad.

∙ The process of globalization is driven by technological innovation, improvements in
transportation, the rise of major multinational corporations, and social and political

∙ Globalization brings both benefits and costs. On one hand, it has the potential to pull
nations out of poverty, spread innovation, and reduce prices for consumers. On the other
hand, it may also produce job loss, reduce environmental and labor standards, and erode
national cultures. An ongoing challenge is to extend the benefits of globalization to all,
while mitigating its adverse effects.

∙ Multinational corporations operate in nations that vary greatly in their political, social,
and economic systems. They face the challenge of deciding how to do business in other
nations, while remaining true to their values.

∙ In a world of great inequalities of wealth and income, businesses are making progress in
understanding how to serve the poor to aid social development while earning a profit.

∙ Businesses can work with governments and civil society organizations around the world
in collaborative partnerships that draw on the unique capabilities of each to address
common problems.


and interdependent. Transnational corporations, with their financial assets and technical
and managerial skills, have a great contribution to make to human betterment. Yet, they
must operate in a world of great diversity, and in which their presence is often distrusted
or feared. Often, they must confront situations in which political and economic freedoms
are lacking and human rights are routinely violated. The challenge facing forward-looking
companies today is how to work collaboratively with stakeholders to promote social and
economic justice, while still achieving strong bottom-line results.

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Discussion Case: Intel and Conflict Minerals

At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich
announced that from then on, all microprocessors made by the company would be certified
as conflict-free. This meant they would contain no conflict minerals—tantalum, tungsten,
tin, or gold sourced from mines that financed horrific civil conflict in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) and nearby countries. “The solution isn’t easy,” the Intel
CEO noted. “But nothing worthwhile ever is.”
Of the four conflict minerals, the one most important to Intel and other electronics com-
panies is tantalum. Columbite-tantalite, commonly known as “coltan,” is a black metallic
ore. When refined, it produces tantalum, which is used to regulate electricity in portable
consumer electronics, such as smartphones, laptops, play stations, and digital cameras.
The largest share of coltan comes from Africa; other sources include Australia, Brazil, and
In the late 2000s, a common goal to ban conflict minerals emerged among members
of an oddly matched group—the electronics industry, the United Nations, governments,
and human rights organizations. Their efforts led, ultimately, to a set of international
guidelines, national laws, and voluntary initiatives whose goal was to keep the electronics
industry and its customers from inadvertently supporting killing, sexual assault, and labor
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a nation of 71 million people in central
Africa, covering a vast region the size of Western Europe. Since the late 1990s, the DRC
has been the site of a brutal regional conflict, in which armed militias, including some
from neighboring states, have fought for control. Despite the presence of United Nations
troops, as many as 5 million people have died—the most in any conflict since World War
II. Warring groups have used sexual assault as a weapon to control the population; an
estimated 200,000 Congolese women and girls have been raped, often in front of their
husbands and families.
The United Nations and several NGOs reported that militias had systematically looted
coltan and other minerals from eastern Congo, using the profits to fund their operations.
According to the human rights group Global Witness:

In the course of plundering these minerals, rebel groups and the Congolese army
have used forced labor (often in extremely harsh and dangerous conditions), carried
out systematic extortion, and imposed illegal “taxes” on the civilian population.
They have also used violence and intimidation against civilians who attempt to
resist working for them or handing over the minerals they produce. International Forum on Globalization Global Policy Forum United Nations and Civil Society Website of author and columnist

Thomas L. Friedman Blogs on globalization and related topics

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Said a representative of The Enough Project, another human rights group, “In eastern
Congo, you see child miners [with] no health or safety standards. Minerals are dug by
hand, traded in sacks, smuggled across borders.”
Once mined—whether in the Congo or elsewhere—raw coltan made its way through a
complex, multistep global supply chain. Local traders sold to regional traders, who shipped
the ore to processing companies such as H.C. Starck (Germany), Cabot Corporation
(United States), and Ningxia (China). Their smelters produced refined tantalum powder,
which was then sold to parts makers such as Kemet (United States), Epcos (Germany), and
Flextronics (Singapore). They sold, in turn, to original equipment manufacturers such as
Dell (United States), Sony (Japan), and Nokia (Finland).
By the time coltan reached the end of this convoluted supply chain, determining its
source was nearly impossible. Steve Jobs, then the CEO of Apple, commented in an e-mail
in 2010, “We require all of our suppliers to certify in writing that they use conflict-free
materials. But honestly there is no way for them to be sure. Until someone invents a way to
chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.”
As public awareness of atrocities in the Congo grew, governments began to take action.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an alliance of mostly
European nations, issued guidance for companies that wished to responsibly source min-
erals. In 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection
Act (also known as the Dodd-Frank Act, and further discussed in Chapters 7 and 13). This
law included a provision, Section 1502, which required companies to disclose whether
tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold used in their products had come from the DRC or adjoin-
ing countries. Companies were required to file their first Section 1502 reports in 2014
(although some business groups had sued to overturn the requirement, saying it was too
Companies also acted. For its part, Intel sent teams to more than 86 smelters and refin-
ers in 21 countries, educating their partners about conflict minerals and collecting infor-
mation about the origin of raw materials they processed. The company collaborated with
other companies in the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to develop a
Conflict-Free Smelter Assessment Program, a voluntary system in which an independent
third-party auditor evaluated smelters and refiners and designated them as conflict-free.
Minerals would be “bagged and tagged” and then tracked through each step of the supply
Intel was particularly concerned that it exclude from its products only conflict miner-
als, not those coming from legitimate mines in conflict areas. To this end, it worked with
government agencies and civil society organizations, including the U.S. State Department
and RESOLVE, an NGO working to map the conflict mineral supply chain, to form the
Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade. This multisector initiative worked
to support responsible mines and to develop effective chain-of-custody programs in the
Congo. In a statement published on its website, Intel said it “believes that an effective
solution to the complex issue of conflict minerals will require coordinated efforts by gov-
ernments, industry, and NGOs.”

Sources: “Intel’s Efforts to Achieve a Conflict-Free Supply Chain,” White Paper, 2014,; “Intel Unveils Conflict-
Free Processors: Will the Industry Follow Suit?” The Guardian, January 13, 2014; “Companies Detail Use of ‘Conflict’ Metals,”
The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2014; “Where Apple Gets the Tantalum for Your iPhone,” Newsweek, February 4, 2015; Peter
Eichstaedt, Consuming the Congo (Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 2011); Michael Nest, Coltan (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2011); The
Enough Project, “Conflict Minerals,”; “Tracing a Path Forward: A Study of the Challenges of the Supply
Chain for Target Markets Used in Electronics,” RESOLVE, April 2010,;
and Global Witness, Faced with a Gun, What Can You Do? July 2009,

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1. How do conflict minerals, and in particular, conflict coltan get their name? What groups
benefited from the trade in conflict minerals? What groups were hurt by it?

2. Consider the three sectors discussed in this chapter (business, government, and civil
society). What were the interests of each, with respect to conflict coltan, and in what
ways did their interests converge?

3. Why was Intel unable to eliminate conflict minerals from its supply chain unilaterally,
that is, without the help of others?

4. In what ways did Intel collaborate with other sectors (governments and civil society) in
its efforts to eliminate conflict minerals from its products? What strengths and weak-
nesses did each sector bring to the task?

5. What further steps could be taken by governments, NGOs, and companies to strengthen
the process to exclude conflict minerals from the global supply chain?

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Business and Ethics

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Ethics and Ethical
People who work in business frequently encounter and must deal with on-the-job ethical issues.
Being ethical is important to the individual, the organization, and the global marketplace in today’s
business climate. Managers and employees alike must learn how to recognize ethical dilemmas and
know why they occur. In addition, they need to be aware of the role their own ethical character plays
in their decision-making process, as well as the influence of the ethical character of others. Finally,
managers and employees must be able to analyze the ethical problems they encounter at work to
determine an ethical resolution to these dilemmas.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 5-1 Defining ethics and business ethics.

LO 5-2 Evaluating why businesses should be ethical.

LO 5-3 Knowing why ethical problems occur in business.

LO 5-4 Identifying managerial values as influencing ethical decision making.

LO 5-5 Recognizing how people’s spirituality influences their ethical behavior.

LO 5-6 Understanding stages of moral reasoning.

LO 5-7 Analyzing ethical problems using generally accepted ethics theories.

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In 2014, Mathew Martoma, a securities trader for the hedge fund SAC Capital
Advisors, was convicted of two counts of security fraud and one count of conspir-
acy for his role in insider trading at the firm. He was sentenced to 9 years in prison
and ordered to forfeit a $9.38 million bonus he had earned at SAC. (SAC Capital
Advisors also agreed to pay $1.8 million to resolve criminal and civil charges
related to insider trading, but no other employee was charged.) The court found that
Martoma had convinced two doctors to provide confidential information about clin-
ical trial results for an experimental Alzheimer’s drug developed by Elan and
Wyeth, two pharmaceutical companies. SAC owned shares of stock in these two
companies, valued at $700 million, which it had purchased largely based on Marto-
ma’s earlier recommendation. The firm began selling these stocks after Martoma
acquired inside information from the doctors that the drugs were not performing as
well as hoped in the clinical trials. The stock sale enabled SAC to avoid losses and
generated profits totaling $275 million before the drug companies publicly
announced the results from the clinical trials.1

Dov Charney founded American Apparel in 1998 as a wholesale T-shirt business,
and the company grew into one of the leading American-made apparel companies.
In 2014, American Apparel’s board of directors voted to fire Charney. The decision
was partially based on net losses of $5.5 million for a three-month period in 2014
and a $46.5 million loss reported a year earlier, but also on the executive’s personal
antics. Charney believed that sexuality should be used to sell clothes, and he often
discussed his own sex life in public. In 2011, he reportedly permitted an employee to
post naked photos of a former female employee who had sued Charney. He also was
said to have wandered into his factory wearing only his underpants, causing several
employees to file sexual harassment lawsuits. Other charges were also filed against
Charney, including assault and battery, impersonation through the Internet, and defa-
mation, according to the company’s regulatory filing in 2014. “The company has
grown a lot bigger than just one person and the liabilities Dov brought to the situa-
tion began to far outweigh his strengths,” said the Board’s chairman.2

The actions taken by Martoma and Charney were both highly unethical. What does it
mean for an action to be ethical or unethical? This chapter explains the meaning of ethics,
explains why businesses and managers should be ethical, identifies the different types of
ethical problems that occur in business, and focuses on an ethical decision-making frame-
work influenced by the core elements of an individual’s ethical character. Then, Chapter 6
builds on this foundation with a discussion of how ethical performance in business can be
improved by strengthening the organization’s culture and climate and by providing organi-
zational safeguards, such as policies, training, and reporting procedures.

The Meaning of Ethics

Ethics is a conception of right and wrong conduct. It tells us whether our behavior is moral
or immoral and deals with fundamental human relationships—how we think and behave
toward others and how we want them to think and behave toward us. Ethical principles are
guides to moral behavior. For example, in most societies lying, stealing, deceiving, and
1 “Ex-SAC Trader Convicted of Securities Fraud,” The New York Times, February 6, 2014,; and
“Martoma, SAC Capital Ex-Trader, Gets 9 Years in Prison,” The New York Times, September 8, 2014,
2 “American Apparel Board Moves to Fire Founder, CEO Dov Charney,” The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2014,;
“For Dov Charney of American Apparel, an Abrupt Fall From Grace,” The New York Times, June 19, 2014,; and,
“American Apparel Ousts Its Founder, Dov Charney, Over Nude Photos,” The New York Times, June 21, 2014,

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harming others are considered to be unethical and immoral. Honesty, keeping promises,
helping others, and respecting the rights of others are considered to be ethically and mor-
ally desirable behavior. Such basic rules of behavior are essential for the preservation and
continuation of organized life everywhere.

These notions of right and wrong come from many sources. Religious beliefs are a
major source of ethical guidance for many. The family institution—whether two parents,
a single parent, or a large family with brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, cousins,
and other kin—imparts a sense of right and wrong to children as they grow up. Schools
and schoolteachers, neighbors and neighborhoods, friends, admired role models, ethnic
groups, and the ever-present electronic media and the Internet influence what we believe to
be right and wrong in life. The totality of these learning experiences creates in each person
a concept of ethics, morality, and socially acceptable behavior. This core of ethical beliefs
then acts as a moral compass that helps guide a person when ethical puzzles arise.

Ethical ideas are present in all societies, organizations, and individual persons, although
they may vary greatly from one to another. Your ethics may not be the same as your neigh-
bor’s; one particular religion’s notion of morality may not be identical to another’s; or what
is considered ethical in one society may be forbidden in another society. These differences
raise the important and controversial issue of ethical relativism, which holds that ethical
principles should be defined by various periods of time in history, a society’s traditions,
the special circumstances of the moment, or personal opinion. In this view, the meaning
given to ethics would be relative to time, place, circumstance, and the person involved. In
that case, the logical conclusion would be that there would be no universal ethical stan-
dards on which people around the globe could agree. However, for companies conducting
business in several societies at one time, whether or not ethics is relevant can be vitally
important; we discuss these issues in more detail in Chapter 6.

For the moment, however, we can say that despite the diverse systems of ethics that exist
within our own society and throughout the world, all people everywhere do depend on ethi-
cal systems to tell them whether their actions are right or wrong, moral or immoral, approved
or disapproved. Ethics, in this basic sense, is a universal human trait, found everywhere.

Are ethics the same as laws? In other words, can we determine what is right or moral by
asking what is legal? Some people have argued that the best way to assure ethical business
conduct is to insist that business firms obey society’s laws. However, laws and ethics are
not quite the same. Laws are society’s formal written rules about what constitutes right and
wrong conduct in various spheres of life. For example, hydraulic fracturing in oil drilling
operations is legal in many communities but some argue it is unethical due to its potential
for destroying the environment. While it may be illegal for environmentalists to attempt to
stop work operations by blockading a drilling location, they believe they are acting ethi-
cally by protecting the environment.

Laws are similar to ethics because both define proper and improper behavior. Yet, eth-
ical concepts—like the people who believe in them—are more complex than written rules
of law. Ethics deal with human dilemmas that frequently go beyond the formal language of
law and the meanings given to legal rules.

What Is Business Ethics?
Business ethics is the application of general ethical ideas to business behavior. Business
ethics is not a special set of ethical ideas different from ethics in general and applicable
only to business. If dishonesty is considered to be unethical and immoral, then anyone in
business who is dishonest with stakeholders—employees, customers, suppliers, stockhold-
ers, or competitors—is acting unethically and immorally. If protecting others from harm is
considered to be ethical, then a company that recalls a dangerously defective product is act-
ing in an ethical way. To be considered ethical, business must draw its ideas about what is

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proper behavior from the same sources as everyone else in society. Business should not try
to make up its own definitions of what is right and wrong. Employees and managers may
believe at times that they are permitted or even encouraged to apply special or weaker eth-
ical rules to business situations, but society does not condone or permit such an exception.

How common are such exceptions? In a series of studies conducted by the Ethics
Resource Center, researchers found that observations of unethical conduct in the work-
place reached a peak in 2009 and then has dropped slightly since 2011, as shown in
Figure 5.1. Yet the pressure on managers to act unethically remains a serious problem for
businesses. The Institute for Leadership and Management reported in 2013 that 63 percent
of managers said they were expected to behave unethically at some point in their career.3

Why Should Business Be Ethical?
Why should business be ethical? What prevents a business firm from piling up as much
profit as it can, in any way it can, regardless of ethical considerations? Figure 5.2 lists the
major reasons why business firms should promote a high level of ethical behavior.

Enhance Business Performance

Some people argue that one reason for businesses to be ethical is that it enhances the firm’s
performance, or simply: ethics pays.

Empirical studies have supported the economic benefits of being perceived as an
ethical company. Ethisphere also found a strong link between ethics and financial
performance. Companies that were on Ethisphere’s list of the World’s Most Ethical
Companies have returned 53 percent to shareholders since 2005, significantly better
than the Standard and Poor’s benchmark return of only 4 percent. This positive rela-
tionship between ethics and profits can be seen in Figure 5.3.

3“Three Out of Five Managers Pressured to Behave Unethically at Work, According to New Research,” Institute of Leadership
and Management, June 10, 2013, press release.

Misconduct at Work,

Source: 2013 National Business
Ethics Survey of the U.S.
Workforce, Ethics Resource
Center, Washington, DC, 2014.










Percentage of employees reporting misconduct at work.

2000 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013

To enhance business performance.
To comply with legal requirements.
To prevent or minimize harm.
To meet demands of business stakeholders.
To promote personal morality.

Why Should Business
Be Ethical?

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Businesses increasingly are recognizing that ethics pays and are encouraging ethi-
cal behavior by their employees. Business executives recognize that ethical actions can
directly affect their organization’s bottom line.

It is also clear that a lack of ethics has serious negative financial impact. Researchers
have identified that costs to the company go far beyond the government’s fines. In a study
conducted by the University of Washington’s business school, researchers found that “com-
panies that have cooked their books [misstated accounting information] lose 41 percent of
their market value after news spreads about their misdeeds.” The reputational damage to
the company is calculated to be 7.5 times the amount of the penalties imposed by govern-
ment.4 Companies with bad reputations face increased recruiting costs, especially when
recruiting females and more experienced employees. By contrast, companies with good
reputations find it easier to recruit desirable employees, lower costs to bring these candi-
dates on board, and have greater retention among employees, according to a report by
Alexander Mann Solutions, a leader of talent acquisition and management services.5

Comply with Legal Requirements

Doing business ethically is also often a legal requirement. Two legal requirements, in par-
ticular, provide direction for companies interested in being more ethical in their business
operations. Although they apply only to U.S.–based firms, these legal requirements also
provide a model for firms that operate outside the United States.

The first is the U.S. Corporate Sentencing Guidelines, which provide a strong incen-
tive for businesses to promote ethics at work.6 The sentencing guidelines come into play
when an employee of a firm has been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing and the firm

4 “Cooked Books, Fried Reputation: Study,” Ethics Newsline, Institute for Global Ethics, November 20, 2006,
Also see Jonathan M. Karpoff, D. Scott Lee, and Gerald S. Martin, “The Cost to Firms of Cooking the Books,” Journal of Finan-
cial and Quantitative Analysis, 2008, pp. 581–611.
5 “The Cost of Bad Reputation,” Corporate Responsibility Magazine, October 2014.
6 For a thorough discussion of the U.S. Corporate Sentencing Guidelines, see Dan R. Dalton, Michael B. Metzger, and John W.
Hill, “The ‘New’ U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines: A Wake-Up Call for Corporate America,” Academy of Management
Executive, 1994, pp. 7–13; and Dove Izraeli and Mark S. Schwartz, “What Can We Learn from the U.S. Federal Sentencing
Guidelines for Organizational Ethics?” Journal of Business Ethics, 1998, pp. 1045–55.

World’s Most Ethical
Index versus S&P
500 and FTSE 100,

Source: See www.ethisphere.










2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Mar 8 2010

S&P 500:

WME vs. S&P 500 vs. FTSE 100

FTSE 100
WME Index

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Is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act Still a Potent
Government Tool?

In 2012, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) turned 10 years old. SOX was once regarded as government’s “big-
gest hammer” to control businesses and executives through the threat of intimidation of civil penalties and
jail time for transgressions. But the hammer did not seem so big after the government failed to use SOX
against any of the large banks and their executives for false certification of financial reports in the wake of the
financial crisis of 2008–09. “I think there’s been a reluctance to prosecute the cases,” said Frank Partnoy, a
university law and finance professor. “I’m quite surprised they haven’t, given that it was supposed to be one
of the more powerful tools coming out of Enron and the other corporate debacles.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) countered by clarifying that the SEC took action on every
case they believed was worthy of prosecution, according to an SEC commissioner. The SEC brought civil
false-certification charges against more than 200 parties, including a handful of executives at companies
involved in financial scandals such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Countrywide. But critics pointed out that
the SEC did not bring any false-certification charges against any of the large banks or their executives for
their actions during the financial crisis; rather, it targeted only mid-sized or small banks whose actions were
less serious. No executives at Bear Stearns or J.P. Morgan Chase were ever charged with any wrongdoing,
despite being accused by their shareholders of misleading investors about hundreds of millions of dollars in
losses. Professor Partnoy asked, “Could it really be the case that the number of high-level criminal actions
at Wall Street firms over the last decade is zero? Could the firms really be that clean?” These questions lead
some to believe that the once-powerful Sarbanes-Oxley Act has lost its influence to the point of being ineffec-
tive as a deterrent for unethical corporate behavior.

Sources: “Law’s Big Weapon Sits Idle,” The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2012,

Exhibit 5.A

is facing sentencing for the criminal act, since the firm is responsible for actions taken by
its employees. To determine the sentencing, the judge computes a culpability (degree of
blame) score using the guidelines, based on whether or not the company has:
1. Established standards and procedures to reduce criminal conduct.
2. Assigned high-level officer(s) responsibility for compliance.
3. Not assigned discretionary authority to “risky” individuals.
4. Effectively communicated standards and procedures through training.
5. Taken reasonable steps to ensure compliance—monitor and audit systems, maintain and

publicize reporting system.
6. Enforced standards and procedures through disciplinary mechanisms.
7. Following detection of offense, responded appropriately and prevented reoccurrence.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission reviewed and made important revisions to the Sentenc-
ing Guidelines in 2004 and each year since 2010, yet the “seven steps” described above
remain the blueprint for many businesses in designing their ethics and compliance program.7

Another legal requirement imposed upon U.S. businesses is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
2002 (often referred to as SOX).8 Born from the ethics scandals at Enron, WorldCom,
Tyco, and others, this law seeks to ensure that firms maintain high ethical standards in
how they conduct and monitor business operations. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
requires executives to vouch for the accuracy of a firm’s financial reports and requires
them to pay back bonuses based on earnings that are later proved fraudulent. The act also
established strict rules for auditing firms. Recently some questioned the powerful influ-
ence once wielded by this Act, as discussed in Exhibit 5.A.

7 For a discussion of the most recent sentencing guidelines amendments, see
8 See Jeanette M. Franzel, “A Decade after Sarbanes-Oxley: The Need for Ongoing Vigilance, Monitoring, and Research,”
Accounting Horizons, 2014, pp. 917–30; and Parveen P. Gupta, Thomas R. Weirich, and Lynn E. Turner, “Sarbanes-Oxley and
Public Reporting on Internal Control: Hasty Reaction or Delayed Action?,” Accounting Horizons, 2013, pp. 371–408.

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Despite the possibility that the SOX may be losing its punitive influence, more than
one-third of all firms reported a rise in SOX compliance costs, compared to one in ten that
reported a decline. These increased costs were attributed to meeting tough new compliance
requirements set by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).9

Prevent or Minimize Harm

Another reason businesses and their employees should act ethically is to prevent harm
to the general public and the corporation’s many stakeholders. One of the strongest eth-
ical principles is stated very simply: Do no harm. The notorious examples of outright
greed and other unethical behavior by managers in the financial community contributed in
part to the long-lasting Great Recession in the United States and around the world. These
managers’ unethical actions were responsible for significant harm to many stakeholders in
society. Investors’ portfolios dropped in value, retirees saw their nest eggs dwindle, hun-
dreds of thousands of employees lost their jobs, and many small businesses failed. More
recently, when Mathew Martoma committed insider trading, as described in an example at
the beginning of this chapter, investors who traded stock with SAC Capital Advisors lost
money because they did not have access to the same information Martoma did.

Meet Demands of Business Stakeholders

Another reason businesses should be ethical is that stakeholders demand it. As discussed
in Chapter 3, organizational stakeholders expect that companies will exhibit high levels of
ethical performance and social responsibility. If employees view their company as ethical,
they likely take greater pride in working there, have higher overall work satisfaction, and
are willing to recommend the company as a good place to work. Scholars reviewing work
in this field found that consumers who considered companies as being ethical or involved
in socially responsible programs are more inclined to purchase these companies’ products.
Socially responsible purchasing activities, such as purchasing from smaller firms or
minority or women-owned firms, have benefited companies both in the United States and
Europe. Finally, scholars argue that ethical and socially responsible firms are signaling a
long-term concern for all stakeholders that could translate into better economic perfor-
mance and therefore motivates investors to trust these companies.10

Some businesses know that meeting stakeholders’ expectations is good business, as
illustrated by the Co-operative Bank, a retail bank based in Manchester, United Kingdom:

The Co-operative Bank first introduced its Ethics Policy in 1992. The bank’s policy
precluded it from lending funds to firms that were involved in animal testing, nuclear
power, unfair labor practices, or weapons production. Since then it withheld billions
of pounds of funding from businesses whose policies violated the bank’s ethics
standards. Yet, the bank reported that any losses were more than made up by income
from consumers who supported the bank’s strong ethical stand. During the same
time period, Co-operative Bank increased its commercial lending sixteen-fold and
experienced strong growth in profitability, increased customer deposits, and other
positive financial measures. The Bank features on its opening web page the offer
“£100 to you and £25 to charity when you switch your current account to us.”11

9 “SOX Compliance Costs Rise for Many Companies, Report Finds,” Journal of Accountancy, May 15, 2013, www.journalofac
10 Many of these issues are discussed in C. B. Bhattacharya, Daniel Korschun, and Sankar Sen, “Strengthening Stakeholder-
Company Relationships through Mutually Beneficial Corporate Socially Responsible Initiatives,” Journal of Business Ethics,
2009, pp. 257–72; and Henry L. Petersen and Harrie Vredenburg, “Morals or Economics? Institutional Investor Preference for
Corporate Social Responsibility,” Journal of Business Ethics, 2009, pp. 1–14.
11 For additional information about Co-operative Bank, see the Bank’s website at

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Promote Personal Morality

A final reason for promoting ethics in business is a personal one. Most people want to act
in ways that are consistent with their own sense of right and wrong. The Dov Charney
example at the beginning of this chapter shows how a lack of personal morality by the
firm’s leader can adversely affect employees. Being pressured to contradict their personal
values creates emotional stress. Knowing that one works in a supportive ethical climate
contributes to one’s sense of psychological security:

According to an Ernst & Young study of employees in Asia, almost 80 percent said
they would be unwilling to work for companies involved in bribery and corruption
and nearly 70 percent saw a strong reputation for ethical behavior as a commercial
advantage. The CEO of Gallup, an organization that annually assesses people’s
opinions, explained, “If I think my boss treats me ethically and honestly, that is
what I think of the company. That is a pretty intense finding in all of Gallup’s work
in the last couple of decades.”12

Why Ethical Problems Occur in Business

If businesses have so many reasons to be ethical, why do ethical problems occur? Although
not necessarily common or universal, ethical problems occur frequently in business. Find-
ing out what causes them is one step toward minimizing their impact on business opera-
tions and on the people affected. Some of the main reasons are summarized in Figure 5.4
and are discussed next.

Personal Gain and Selfish Interest
Desire for personal gain, or even greed, causes some ethics problems. Businesses sometimes
employ people whose personal values are less than desirable, who will put their own welfare
ahead of all others, regardless of the harm done to other employees, the company, or society.

A manager or an employee who puts his or her own self-interest above all other consid-
erations is called an ethical egoist.13 Self-promotion, a focus on self-interest to the point of

12 “Employees Care about Ethical Practices: Survey,” Business Asia One Business, June 12, 2015,; and
Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup quoted in Executive Board press release, January 17, 2013,
13 For a compact discussion of ethical egoism, see Denis G. Arnold, Tom L. Beauchamp, and Norman E. Bowie, Ethical Theory
and Business, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012), pp. 12–17; and Laura P. Hartman, Joe DesJardins, and Chris
MacDonald, Business Ethics: Decision-Making for Personal Integrity and Social Responsibility, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill,
2014), p. 108.

Nature of Ethical
Problem Typical Approach Attitude

Personal gain and
selfish interest

Selfish interest versus
others’ interests

Egotistical mentality “I want it!”

pressures on profits

Firm’s interest versus
others’ interests

Bottom-line mentality “We have to beat the others
at all costs!”

Conflicts of interest Multiple obligations or

Favoritism mentality “Help yourself and those
closest to you!”


Company’s interests
versus diverse cultural
traditions and values

Ethnocentric mentality “Foreigners have a funny
notion of what’s right and

Why Ethical
Problems Occur in

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selfishness, and greed are traits commonly observed in an ethical egoist. The ethical egoist
tends to ignore ethical principles accepted by others, believing that ethical rules are made
for others. Altruism—acting for the benefit of others when self-interest is sacrificed—is
seen to be sentimental or even irrational. “Looking out for number one” is the ethical ego-
ist’s motto, as demonstrated by the Martoma and Charney examples at the beginning of
this chapter and the following stories:

Gary Foster, a former Citigroup vice president, embezzled nearly $23 million from
the bank by wiring company funds to his personal account at JP Morgan. Foster
used the company money to purchase a Ferrari, a Maserati, and residences in Man-
hattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. “The defendant violated his employer’s trust and
stole a stunning amount of money over an extended period of time to finance his
personal lifestyle,” explained U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Foster pleaded guilty to
bank fraud in 2011.

Former Coca-Cola executive Jeffrey Shamp was sentenced to 27 months in fed-
eral prison for diverting more than $400,000 in company funds for personal
expenses. The former national account executive admitted to redirected American
Express gift checks intended for a sales incentive program for Coke customers and
used to pay his alimony, rent expenses, and for gifts to friends and relatives, accord-
ing to authorities.14

Competitive Pressures on Profits
When companies are squeezed by tough competition, they sometimes engage in unethical
activities to protect their profits. This may be especially true in companies whose financial
performance is already substandard. Research has shown that managers of poor financial
performers and companies with financial uncertainty are more prone to commit illegal
acts. In addition, intense competitive pressure in the global marketplace has resulted in
unethical activity, such as the practice of price fixing or falsifying documents.

Senior executives at numerous state-run energy companies in South Korea were
indicted on corruption charges in 2013. The government found that 277 documents
were faked over the past decade at a majority of the country’s nuclear reactors. The
scandal was attributed to the intense competition in the industry and the increased
demand for energy from the country’s 23 commercial nuclear power plants, which
provided about a third of the nation’s power. These actions also dealt a blow to the
country’s efforts to export its nuclear power business.15

Conflicts of Interest
Ethical challenges in business often arise in the form of conflicts of interest. A conflict of
interest occurs when an individual’s self-interest conflicts with acting in the best interest
of another, when the individual has an obligation to do so.16 For example, if a purchasing
agent directed her company’s orders to a firm from which she had received a valuable gift,
regardless if this firm offered the best quality or value, she would have acted unethically
because of a conflict of interest. In this situation, she would have acted to benefit herself,
rather than in the best interests of her employer. A failure to disclose a conflict of interest

14 “Ex-Citigroup Executive Foster Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud,” Bloomberg, September 6, 2011,; and “For-
mer Coke Executive Sentenced to Prison for Diverting Company Funds,” The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2014,
15 “South Korea Indicts Over Faked Nuclear Documents,” The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2013,
16 Based on John R. Boatright, Ethics and the Conduct of Business, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2011), p. 101.

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may represent deception in and of itself and may hurt the person or organization on whose
behalf judgment has been exercised. Many ethicists believe that even the appearance of a
conflict of interest should be avoided, because it undermines trust:

With the help of orthopedic surgeons from around the world, DePuy Orthopaedics,
a division of Johnson & Johnson, developed three innovative devices intended to
provide a more flexible hip replacement option for younger patients. More than
25,000 orthopedic surgeons implanted these devices in nearly 100,000 patients
worldwide. However, according to a U.K. study, more than 10 percent of the
devices failed within two years of the surgery. The study also discovered that
approximately 1,000 of the surgeons involved in the development of these devices
received consulting fees or royalty payments for their work, calling into question
the surgeons’ objectivity when recommending these devices to their patients.17

In this case, some doctors may have had a conflict of interest, because their financial
interest in the success of the DePuy devices may have led them to promote them over other
products that might have been safer.

Many cases of financial fraud illustrate conflicts of interest, in which opportunities for
self-enrichment by senior managers conflict with the long-term viability of the firm and
the best interests of employees, customers, suppliers, and stockholders. The case “Moody’s
Credit Ratings and the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown,” which appears at the end of this
book, describes an organizational conflict of interest in which a company was paid by the
firms whose bonds it rated, rather than by the buyers of these bonds. Many firms seek to
guard against the dangers inherent in conflicts of interest by including prohibitions of any
such practices in their codes of ethics, as discussed in Chapter 6.

Cross-Cultural Contradictions
Some of the knottiest ethical problems occur as corporations do business in other societies
where ethical standards differ from those at home. Today, policymakers and strategic plan-
ners in all multinational corporations, regardless of the nation where they are headquar-
tered, often face this kind of ethical dilemma. Consider the following situation:

PPG Industries, the global leader in coatings and specialty products operating in
more than 60 countries around the world, has sold high lead content paint to the
African nation of Cameroon for many years. The United States banned interior
and exterior household paint with lead content above 600 parts per million in 1978
and tightened this standard to 90 parts per million in 2008 to reduce the risk of
lead poisoning in children who can ingest paint chips, flakes, or peelings or inhale
lead paint dust. But as far as international sales, the company maintained that it
“initiated its own action to review its consumer coatings to ensure the lead content
confirms to applicable legal requirements.” Cameroon has no lead paint limits, and
PPG’s product on the shelves in stores in this country have lead paint levels of well
above the U.S. legal limit. Studies have shown that even low-level lead exposure
can significantly affect mental capacity and higher exposures can cause behavioral
problems, learning disabilities, even seizures and death. PPG stopped short of
requiring its newly acquired Cameroon subsidiary, Seigneurie, to recall the lead-
based paint already on the market in Cameroon or label it as containing lead but has
agreed to exchange lead-free paint for previously sold paint containing lead.18

17 “Conflict of Interest between Surgeons and Device Manufacturers,” Drugwatch, April 1, 2015,
18 “PPG Refuses to Recall Leaded Paint in Cameroon,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 6, 2012,

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This episode raises the issue of ethical relativism, which was defined earlier in this
chapter. Although the sale of lead-based paint in Cameroon was legal, was it ethical? Is
the selling of unsafe products by any measure ethical if it is not forbidden by the receiving
nation, especially if the company knows that the products are exported to another country
where others are exposed to serious health risks?

As business becomes increasingly global, with more and more corporations penetrating
overseas markets where cultures and ethical traditions vary, these cross-cultural questions
will occur more frequently.

The Core Elements of Ethical Character

The ethical analysis and resolution of ethical dilemmas in the workplace significantly
depend on the ethical character and moral development of managers and other employees.
Good ethical practices not only are possible, but also become normal with the right com-
bination of these components.

Managers’ Values
Managers are key to whether a company and its employees will act ethically or unethically.
As major decision makers, they have more opportunities than others to create an ethical
tone for their company. The values held by managers, especially the top-level managers,
will serve as models for others who work at the company. Unfortunately, according to
a 2013 opinion poll, Americans hold a dim view of business executives’ and managers’
values. Only a small minority—24 percent—believed that managers contribute “a lot” to
society’s well being, and 28 percent believed that managers contribute “not very much
or nothing.”19 In an annual Gallup poll that rated 21 occupations for honesty and ethics,
nurses—for the thirteenth straight year—came out on top. In 2014, only 17 percent of
those surveyed saw business executives as having “very high” or “high” ethical standards
or honesty. This placed executives below clergy and lawyers on this list. Advertising prac-
titioners ranked lower than business executives, with car salespeople and members of Con-
gress at the bottom of the list.20

How do executives view their own values? Studies generally show that most U.S. man-
agers focus on themselves and place importance on values such as having a comfortable
and exciting life. Researchers also found that new CEOs tend to be more self-interested
and short-term focused, possibly in an effort to immediately drive up company profits,
rather than valuing long-term investments in research and development or capital expendi-
tures. However, a recent study found that today’s managers place slightly more importance
on moral values, such as honesty and forgiveness, than managers did in the 1980s, who
focused more on competency values, like capability and independence.21

The challenge for many moral managers is acting effectively on their beliefs in the day-
to-day life of their organizations. Educator Mary Gentile tries to empower business leaders
and managers by enabling them to give voice to—and to act on—their values at work.

19 “Public Esteem for Military Still High,” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, July 11, 2013,; and
“Fortune 1000 Executives Say Loss of Trust Is an Issue,” PR Newswire, July 26, 2010,
20 “Honesty/Ethics in the Professions,” Gallup Poll, December 8–11, 2014,
21 See Jeffrey S. Harrison and James O. Fiet, “New CEOs Pursue Their Own Self-Interests by Sacrificing Stakeholder Value,”
Journal of Business Ethics, 1999, pp. 301–8; and James Weber, “Identifying and Assessing Managerial Value Orientations:
A Cross-Generational Replication Study of Key Organizational Decision-Makers’ Values,” Journal of Business Ethics, 2014,
available online at

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Gentile’s “Giving Voice to Values” program believes that the key is knowing how to act
on your values despite opposing pressure, and she offers advice, practical exercises, and
scripts for handling a wide range of ethical dilemmas through her innovative curriculum
for values-driven management and leadership.22

Spirituality in the Workplace
A person’s spirituality—that is, a personal belief in a supreme being, religious organiza-
tion, or the power of nature or some other external, life-guiding force—has always been a
part of the human makeup. In 1953, Fortune published an article titled “Businessmen on
Their Knees” and claimed that American businessmen (women generally were excluded
from the executive suite in those days) were taking more notice of God. More recently,
cover stories in Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and other business publications have
documented a resurgence of spirituality or religion at work.

As far back as 1976, scholars have found a positive relationship between an organi-
zation’s economic performance and attention to spiritual values. They have shown that
spirituality positively affects employee and organizational performance by enhancing intu-
itive abilities and individual capacity for innovation, as well as increasing personal growth,
employee commitment, and responsibility. Spirituality also helps employees who are deal-
ing with workplace stress.23

Organizations have responded to the increased attention to spirituality and religion at
work by taking action to accommodate their employees’ spiritual needs.

The chief diversity officer at PricewaterhouseCoopers found office space in their
Asia-Pacific region facility to provide a prayer room for their Muslim employees.
In the United States, employers are required by law to make substantial accommo-
dations for their employees’ religious practices, as long as it does not create major
hardships for the organization. Ford’s Interfaith Network, a group of employees
focusing on religious issues, successfully lobbied the company to install sinks
designed for the religious washings that Muslim employees perform.24

Marketplace Ministries is a nonprofit organization that provides about 2870 Protestant
chaplains working in more than 3300 service locations and caring for more than 546,000
client company employees and their family members, for a reported income of about
$13.5 million for 2014. Other firms, such as Tyson Foods, have found it worthwhile to
have a chaplain on staff full-time. When a Tyson employee told his boss that he had a drug
problem, the supervisor sent the employee to the chaplain. The employee thought, “What
could he do? Offer me a prayer?” The chaplain met with the employee and over the next
few months helped the employee enroll in a drug rehabilitation program, find a drug coun-
selor, and attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The spread of the practice of including
chaplains within the organization demonstrates the understanding that firms need to

22 To learn more about Mary Gentile’s “Giving Voice to Values” program, see or www.GivingVoicetoValues
.com at Babson College.
23 For a study establishing a link between spirituality and economic performance see Christopher P. Neck and John F.
Milliman, “Thought Self-Leadership: Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Organizational Life,” Journal of Managerial Psychology,
1994, pp. 9–16; and for a study promoting spirituality as a way to reduce workplace stress, see Amal Altaf and Mohammad
Atif Awan, “Moderating Affect of Workplace Spirituality on the Relationship of Job Overload and Job Satisfaction,” Journal of
Business Ethics, 2011, pp. 93–99.
24 “When Religious Needs Test Company Policy,” The New York Times, February 25, 2007,; and “More
Businesses Turning to Workplace Chaplains,”, October 30, 2011,

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embrace their employees’ religious or spiritual characteristics as part of who they are as
employees, not something relegated to places of worship alone.25

However, others disagree with the trend toward a stronger presence of religion in the
workplace. They hold the traditional belief that business is a secular—that is, nonspiritual—
institution. They believe that business is business, and spirituality is best left to churches, syn-
agogues, mosques, and meditation rooms, not corporate boardrooms or shop floors. This, of
course, reflects the separation of church and state in the United States and many other countries.

Beyond the philosophical opposition to bringing spirituality into the business environ-
ment, procedural or practical challenges arise. Whose spirituality should be promoted?
The CEO’s? With greater workplace diversity comes greater spiritual diversity, so which
organized religion’s prayers should be cited or ceremonies enacted? How should busi-
nesses handle employees who are agnostics or atheists (who do not follow any religion)?

Just as personal values and character strongly influence employee decision making and
behavior in the workplace, so does personal spirituality, from all points on the religious
spectrum, impact how businesses operate.

Managers’ Moral Development
People’s values and spirituality exert a powerful influence on the way ethical work issues
are treated. Since people have different personal histories and have developed their values
and spirituality in different ways, they are going to think differently about ethical prob-
lems. This is as true of corporate managers as it is of other people. In other words, the
managers in a company are likely to be at various stages of moral development. Some will
reason at a high level, others at a lower level.

A summary of the way people grow and develop morally is diagrammed in Figure 5.5.
From childhood to mature adulthood, most people move steadily upward in their moral
reasoning capabilities from stage 1. Over time, they become more developed and are capa-
ble of more advanced moral reasoning, although some people never use the most advanced
stages of reasoning in their decision processes.

25 For additional information, see “Faith in the Workplace: Marketplace Chaplains Finds a $13.5M Niche,” Business Journals,
September 15, 2014, For a list of companies considered “religious,” see “18 Extremely Religious Big
American Companies,” Business Insider, June 13, 2013,

Age Group
Development Stage and Major
Ethics Referent Basis of Ethics Reasoning

Mature adulthood Stage 6 Universal principles: justice,
fairness, universal human rights


Mature adulthood Stage 5 Moral beliefs above and beyond
specific social custom: human rights, social
contract, broad constitutional principles


Adulthood Stage 4 Society at large: customs,
traditions, laws

Society- and law-centered

Early adulthood,

Stage 3 Social groups: friends, school,
coworkers, family

Group-centered reasoning

Adolescence, youth Stage 2 Reward seeking: self-interest, own
needs, reciprocity

Ego-centered reasoning

Childhood Stage 1 Punishment avoidance: avoid harm,
obedience to power

Ego-centered reasoning

Stages of Moral
Development and
Ethical Reasoning

Source: Adapted from
Lawrence Kohlberg, The
Philosophy of Moral
Development (New York:
Harper & Row, 1981).

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At first, individuals are limited to an ego-centered focus (stage 1), fixed on avoiding
punishment and obediently following the directions of those in authority. (The word ego
means “self.”) Slowly and sometimes painfully, the child learns that what is considered
to be right and wrong is pretty much a matter of reciprocity: “I’ll let you play with my
toy, if I can play with yours” (stage 2). At both stages 1 and 2, however, the individual
is mainly concerned with his or her own pleasure. The self-dealings of Gary Foster and
Jeffrey Shamp, described earlier in this chapter, exemplify ego-centered reasoning. By
taking money from their companies for personal use, they benefited themselves and their
immediate families, without apparent concern for others.

In adolescence the individual enters a wider world, learning the give-and-take of group
life among small circles of friends, schoolmates, and similar close-knit groups (stage 3).
Studies have reported that interaction within groups can provide an environment that
improves the level of moral reasoning. This process continues into early adulthood. At
this point, pleasing others and being admired by them are important cues to proper behav-
ior. Most people are now capable of focusing on other-directed rather than self-directed
perspectives. When a manager “goes along” with what others are doing or what the boss
expects, this would represent stage 3 behavior. On reaching full adulthood—the late teens
to early 20s in most modern, industrialized nations—most people are able to focus their
reasoning according to society’s customs, traditions, and laws as the proper way to define
what is right and wrong (stage 4). At this stage, a manager would seek to follow the law;
for example, he or she might choose to curtail a chemical pollutant because of government
regulations mandating this.

Stages 5 and 6 lead to a special kind of moral reasoning. At stage 5, individuals apply
their moral beliefs above and beyond specific social custom and consider changing law
based on rational reflection of social utility. Stage 6 emphasizes ethical reasoning using
broad principles and relationships, such as human rights and constitutional guarantees of
human dignity, equal treatment, and freedom of expression. For example, at this stage, an
executive might decide to pay wages above the minimum required by law, because this is
the morally just thing to do.26

Researchers have consistently found that most managers typically rely on criteria asso-
ciated with reasoning at stages 3 and 4, although some scholars argue that these results
may be slightly inflated.27 Although they may be capable of more advanced moral reason-
ing that adheres to or goes beyond society’s customs or law, managers’ ethical horizons
most often are influenced by their immediate work group, family relationships, or compli-
ance with the law. Two studies found that senior leaders often demonstrate higher stages
of moral reasoning than typical managers, giving some basis for optimism regarding the
ethical leadership of businesses.28

The development of a manager’s moral character can be crucial to a company. Some
ethics issues require managers to move beyond selfish interest (stages 1 and 2), beyond
company interest (stage 3 reasoning), and even beyond sole reliance on society’s customs

26 For details and research findings, see Lawrence Kohlberg, The Philosophy of Moral Development (San Francisco: Harper
& Row, 1981); and Anne Colby and Lawrence Kohlberg, The Measurement of Moral Judgment, Volume I: Theoretical Founda-
tions and Research Validations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
27 James Weber and Janet Gillespie, “Differences in Ethical Beliefs, Intentions, and Behaviors,” Business & Society, 1998,
pp. 447–67; and James Weber and David Wasieleski, “Investigating Influences on Managers’ Moral Reasoning,” Business &
Society, 2001, pp. 79–111.
28 John J. Juzbasich and Jae Uk Chun, “Effects of Moral Reasoning and Management Level on Ratings of Charismatic
Leadership, In-Role and Extra-Role Performance of Managers,” Leadership Quarterly, 2011, pp. 434–50; and James Weber,
“Assessing the ‘Tone at the Top’: The Moral Reasoning of CEOs in the Automobile Industry,” Journal of Business Ethics, 2010,
pp. 167–82.

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and laws (stage 4 reasoning). Needed is a manager whose personal character is built on a
caring attitude toward all affected, recognizing others’ rights and their essential humanity
(a combination of stage 5 and 6 reasoning). The moral reasoning of upper-level manag-
ers, whose decisions affect companywide policies, can have a powerful and far-reaching
impact both inside and outside the company.

Analyzing Ethical Problems in Business

Underlying an ethical decision framework is a set of universal ethical values or principles,
notions that most people anywhere in the world would hold as important. While a list of
ethical principles may be exhaustive, these values seem to be generally accepted and are
present in most ethical dilemmas: do no harm; be compassionate, fair and just, and honest;
respect others’ rights; and, do your duty/act responsibly.29 Business managers and employ-
ees need a set of decision guidelines that will shape their thinking when on-the-job ethics
issues occur. The guidelines should help them (1) identify and analyze the nature of an
ethical problem and (2) decide which course of action is likely to produce an ethical result.
The following four methods of ethical reasoning can be used for these analytical purposes,
as summarized in Figure 5.6.

Virtue Ethics: Pursuing a “Good” Life
Some philosophers believe that the ancient Greeks, specifically Plato and Aristotle, devel-
oped the first ethical theory, which was based on values and personal character. Commonly
referred to as virtue ethics, it focuses on character traits that a good person should possess,
theorizing that moral values will direct the person toward good behavior. Aristotle argued,
“Moral virtue is a mean between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency, and
it aims at hitting the mean in feelings, desires, and action.”30 A variety of people have sug-
gested lists of moral values over the years as shown in Figure 5.7.

As indicated in Figure 5.7, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Franklin, and Solomon have
slightly different views of what guides a moral or virtuous person. This suggests that to

29 See Rushworth Kidder, Moral Courage (New York: HarperCollins, 2005).
30 For discussions of virtue ethics, see Laura P. Hartman, Joe DesJardins, and Chris MacDonald, Business Ethics:
Decision-Making for Personal Integrity and Social Responsibility, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014), pp. 123–27.

Critical Determining

An Action Is Ethical
When . . . Limitations

Virtues Values and character It aligns with good

Subjective or incomplete set of
good virtues

Utilitarian Comparing benefits and

Net benefits exceed net

Difficult to measure some human
and social costs; majority may
disregard rights of the minority

Rights Respecting entitlements Basic human rights are

Difficult to balance conflicting

Justice Distributing fair shares Benefits and costs are
fairly distributed

Difficult to measure benefits and
costs; lack of agreement on fair

Four Methods of
Ethical Reasoning

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some extent what counts as a moral virtue depends on one’s personal beliefs and is often
influenced by an organization or a society.

When placing virtue ethics in a business context, ethicist Robert Solomon explains,
“The bottom line of the Aristotelian approach to business ethics is that we have to
get away from ‘bottom line’ thinking and conceive of business as an essential part
of the good life, living well, getting along with others, having a sense of self-re-
spect, and being a part of something one can be proud of.”31

However, others argue that virtue ethics is not a thoroughly developed ethical system of
rules and guidelines, but rather a system of values that form good character. Virtue ethics
also suffers from this challenge: whose values? Does a set of values provide a sufficient
framework to resolve the most complex ethical dilemmas found in global business? Does a
manager sometimes have to be or seem to be “the bad person” or do or seem to do “a bad
thing” for the sake of some ultimate ethical good? Would this be virtuous or vicious?32

Utility: Comparing Benefits and Costs
Another approach to ethics emphasizes utility, or the overall amount of good that can be
produced by an action or a decision. This ethical approach is called utilitarian reasoning. It
is often referred to as cost–benefit analysis because it compares the costs and benefits of
a decision, a policy, or an action, as shown in Figure 5.6. These costs and benefits can be
economic (expressed in dollar amounts), social (the effect on society at large), or human
(usually a psychological or an emotional impact). After business managers add up all the
costs and benefits and compare them with one another, the net cost or the net benefit
should be apparent. For a utilitarian, the alternative where the benefits most outweigh the
costs is the ethically preferred action because it produces the greatest good for the greatest
number of people in society.

The main drawback to utilitarian reasoning is the difficulty of accurately measuring
both costs and benefits. Some things can be measured in monetary terms—goods pro-
duced, sales, payrolls, and profits—but others that are less tangible, such as employee

31 Robert C. Solomon, Ethics and Excellence: Cooperation and Integrity in Business (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992),
p. 104.
32 For a critique of virtue ethics, see Boatright, Ethics and the Conduct of Business, pp. 58–60.

Plato and Aristotle, 4th
century BC

St Thomas Aquinas,

Benjamin Franklin,

Robert Solomon,

• Courage
• Self-control
• Generosity
• Magnificence
• High-mindedness
• Gentleness
• Friendliness
• Truthfulness
• Wittiness
• Modesty

• Faith
• Hope
• Charity
• Prudence
• Justice
• Temperance
• Fortitude
• Humility

• Cleanliness
• Silence
• Industry
• Punctuality
• Frugality

• Honesty
• Trust
• Toughness

Lists of Moral Values
across Time

Sources: Plato and Aristotle’s values are from Steven Mintz, “Aristotelian Virtue and Business Ethics Education,” Journal of Business
Ethics, 1996; St. Thomas Aquinas’s values are from Manuel G. Velasquez, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson, 2012); Benjamin Franklin’s values, from the American Industrial Revolution era, are from Peter McMylor, Alisdair
MacIntyre: Critic of Modernity (London: Routledge, 1994); and Robert Solomon’s moral values can be found in Robert C. Solomon,
Ethics and Excellence: Cooperation and Integrity in Business (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

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Do Patients Have the “Right to Try”

The emergence of “Right to Try” laws in a handful of states—Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, and
Arizona by January 2015—catapulted this ethical question into national prominence and touches on some of
the methods for ethical reasoning discussed in this chapter.
At the core of this debate is whether or not terminally ill patients have the ethical right to try therapy or
experimental drugs that are still in the testing phase at pharmaceutical companies in the hope of stopping the
spread of their disease or possibly saving their lives. Patients’ were often naturally focused on the potential
benefits of using these drugs, even if they were still under development and might be risky or ineffective. An
executive at The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian group supporting Right to Try laws, explained, “The goal is
for terminally ill patients to have choice when it comes to end-stage disease. Right to Try is something that
will help terminally ill people all over the country.” These sentiments were echoed by Larry Kutt, a 65-year-
old man with an advanced blood cancer hoping to gain access to a therapy currently being tested by several
pharmaceutical companies, who said, “It’s my life and I want the chance to save it.”
Lawmakers in Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming planned to introduce “Right to Try” legislation in
2015 but critics called these efforts “a cruel shame,” causing more harm than good by creating false hope.
Dr. David Gorski, a Michigan surgeon, argued that releasing unapproved therapies could cause untold pain
in a person’s final days, even hastening death. Focusing on a benefits versus harms perspective, Dr. Gorski
explained, “They are far more likely to harm patients than to help them.”
The formal legal position in the United States was based on a 2007 court ruling that stated patients did
not have a constitutional right to medicines that were not federally approved. The Food and Drug Adminis-
tration had a program under which terminally ill patients, who had exhausted their treatment options, could
try to obtain therapies that had passed at least the first of three FDA investigation phases. But, the law did
not require pharmaceutical companies to provide the treatment nor did it mandate that insurance companies
cover these therapies. Also, the law did allow insurance companies to deny coverage to patients while they
use drugs under investigation. In 2015, Johnson & Johnson created a panel of bioethicists to study patients’
requests for potentially lifesaving medicines and make recommendations to the pharmaceutical firm.

Sources: “Patients Seek ‘Right to Try’ New Drugs,” The New York Times, January 10, 2015,; and, “Company
Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs,” The New York Times, May 7, 2015,

Exhibit 5.B

morale, psychological satisfaction, or the worth of a human life, are trickier. Human and
social costs are particularly difficult to measure with precision. But unless they can be
measured, the cost–benefit calculations will be incomplete, and it will be difficult to know
whether the overall result is good or bad, ethical or unethical. Another limitation of utili-
tarian reasoning is that the majority may override the rights of those in the minority. Since
utilitarian reasoning is primarily concerned with the end results of an action, managers
using this reasoning process often fail to consider the means taken to reach the end. Some
of these challenges are evident in Exhibit 5.B.

Despite these drawbacks, cost–benefit analysis is widely used in business. Because
this method works well when used to measure economic and financial outcomes, business
managers sometimes are tempted to rely on it to decide important ethical questions with-
out being fully aware of its limitations or the availability of still other methods that may
improve the ethical quality of their decisions.

Rights: Determining and Protecting Entitlements
Human rights are another basis for making ethical judgments. A right means that a person
or group is entitled to something or is entitled to be treated in a certain way, as shown in
Figure 5.6. The most basic human rights are the rights to life, safety, free speech, freedom,
being informed, due process, and property, among others. Denying those rights or failing
to protect them for other persons and groups is normally considered to be unethical and
is the core of the debate over the “Right to Try” controversy profiled in Exhibit 5.B. This

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approach to ethical reasoning holds that individuals are to be treated as valuable ends in
themselves just because they are human beings. Using others for your own purposes is
unethical if, at the same time, you deny them their goals and purposes.

The main limitation of using rights as a basis of ethical reasoning is the difficulty of
balancing conflicting rights. For example, an employee’s right to privacy may be at odds
with an employer’s right to protect the firm’s assets by testing the employee’s honesty.
Rights also clash when U.S. multinational corporations move production to a foreign
nation, causing job losses at home but creating new jobs abroad. In such cases, whose job
rights should be respected?33

Despite this kind of problem, the protection and promotion of human rights is an import-
ant ethical benchmark for judging the behavior of individuals and organizations. Surely most
people would agree that it is unethical to deny a person’s fundamental right to life, freedom,
privacy, growth, and human dignity. By defining the human condition and pointing the way
to a realization of human potentialities, such rights become a kind of common denominator
of ethical reasoning, setting forth the essential conditions for ethical actions and decisions.

Justice: Is It Fair?
A fourth method of ethical reasoning concerns justice. As shown in Figure 5.6, a common
question in human affairs is, Is it fair or just? Employees want to know if pay scales are fair.
Consumers are interested in fair prices when they shop. When new tax laws are proposed,
there is much debate about their fairness—where will the burden fall, and who will escape
paying their fair share?34 After the U.S. government bailed out several big banks and insur-
ance companies in 2008–09, many people wondered if it was fair that some of their top exec-
utives continued to receive big bonuses while their employees, shareholders, and bondholders
suffered—and taxpayers absorbed the cost. The Occupy Wall Street protests, which began in
2010, called attention to the perceived lack of fairness in the distribution of income and assets
between wealthy bankers and ordinary Americans. (This topic is also taken up in Chapter 15.)

Justice, or fairness, exists when benefits and burdens are distributed equitably and
according to some accepted rule. For society as a whole, social justice means that a society’s
income and wealth are distributed among the people in fair proportions. A fair distribution
does not necessarily mean an equal distribution. Most societies try to consider people’s
needs, abilities, efforts, and the contributions they make to society’s welfare. Since these
factors are seldom equal, fair shares will vary from person to person and group to group.

Justice reasoning is not the same as utilitarian reasoning. A person using utilitarian
reasoning adds up costs and benefits to see if one is greater than the other; if benefits
exceed costs, then the action would probably be considered ethical. A person using justice
reasoning considers who pays the costs and who gets the benefits; if the shares seem fair
(according to society’s rules), then the action is probably just.

Applying Ethical Reasoning to Business Activities
Anyone in the business world can use these four methods of ethical reasoning to gain a
better understanding of ethical issues that arise at work. Usually, all four can be applied at
the same time. Using only one of the four methods is risky and may lead to an incomplete
understanding of all the ethical complexities that may be present. It also may produce a
lopsided ethical result that will be unacceptable to others.

33 For a discussion of ethical rights, see Boatright, ibid., pp. 60–61; and Velasquez, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases,
pp. 90–98.
34 For an interesting discussion of “what is fair?” see Patrick Primeaux and Frank P. LeVeness, “What is Fair: Three Perspec-
tives,” Journal of Business Ethics 84 (2009), pp. 89–102.

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Once the ethical analysis is complete, the decision maker should ask this question: Do
all of the ethics approaches lead to the same decision? If so, then the decision, policy, or
activity is probably ethical. If the application of all ethics theories result in a “no, this is not
ethical,” then it is probably unethical. The reason you cannot be absolutely certain is that
different people and groups (1) may honestly and genuinely use different sources of infor-
mation, (2) may rely on different values or definitions of what is a virtuous character, (3)
may measure costs and benefits differently, (4) may not share the same meaning of justice,
or (5) may rank various rights in different ways. Nevertheless, any time an analyst obtains
a consistent result when using all of the approaches, it indicates that a strong case can be
made for either an ethical or an unethical conclusion.

What happens when the application of the four ethical approaches does not lead to the
same conclusion? A corporate manager or an employee then has to assign priorities to each
method of ethical reasoning. What is most important to the manager, to the employee, or
to the organization—virtue, utility, rights, or justice? What ranking should they be given?
A judgment must be made, and priorities must be determined. These judgments and prior-
ities will be strongly influenced by a company’s culture and ethical climate. Some will be
sensitive to people’s needs and rights; others will put themselves or their company ahead
of all other considerations.

The importance of being attentive to ethical issues at work and the ability to reason to
an ethical resolution of these knotty dilemmas have always been important but today are
essential given the increasing ethical scrutiny of business and the grave consequences for
unethical behavior in the workplace. Employees do not work in a vacuum. The organiza-
tion where they work and the culture that exists within any organization exert significant
influence on the individual as an ethical decision maker. Businesses are making signifi-
cant efforts to improve the ethical work climates in their organizations and are providing
safeguards to encourage ethical behavior by their employees, as the next chapter discusses.

∙ Ethics is a conception of right and wrong behavior, defining for us when our actions are
moral and when they are immoral. Business ethics is the application of general ethical
ideas to business behavior.

∙ Ethical business behavior enhances business performance, complies with legal require-
ments, prevents or minimizes harm, is demanded by business stakeholders, and pro-
motes personal morality.

∙ Ethics problems occur in business for many reasons, including the selfishness of a few,
competitive pressures on profits, the clash of personal values and business goals, and
cross-cultural contradictions in global business operations.

∙ Managers’ on-the-job values tend to be company-oriented, assigning high priority to
company goals. Managers often value being competent and place importance on having
a comfortable or exciting life, among other values.

∙ Individual spirituality can greatly influence how a manager understands ethical chal-
lenges; increasingly, it is recognized that organizations must acknowledge employees’
spirituality in the workplace.

∙ Individuals reason at various stages of moral development, with most managers focus-
ing on personal rewards, recognition from others, or compliance with company rules as
guides for their reasoning.

∙ People in business can analyze ethics dilemmas by using four major types of ethical
reasoning: virtue ethics, utilitarian reasoning, rights reasoning, and justice reasoning.


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Discussion Case: Chiquita Brands: Ethical Responsibility
or Illegal Action?

In 2014, the 11th United States Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Chiquita Brands, a Cin-
cinnati–based multinational marketer and distributor of food products—widely known for
its Chiquita banana brand—which had been accused by 4000 Colombians of supporting
paramilitary soldiers who had killed or tortured their relatives. The court ruled on techni-
cal grounds that the Colombians could not sue the company under the laws they had cited.
“The Alien Tort Statute does not apply extraterritorially,” wrote Judge David Sentelle, and
“the Torture Victim Protection Act only applies to actual people, not to corporations.”
The Colombians had sought $7.86 billion in damages, on the basis that Chiquita was
responsible for the deaths of 393 victims at the hands of a paramilitary group called the United
Self-Defense Forces of Colombia that Chiquita had funded through their payments. The law-
suits pointed specifically to a 1997 massacre in which 49 people were tortured, dismembered,
and decapitated and another incident in 2000 in which 36 more people were killed.
The lawsuit was ironic, because Chiquita had originally made the payments to the para-
military group to protect its Colombian employees from harm—not to put people at risk.
However, once the payments had been made, Chiquita had no control over what the out-
law group did with the funds—which it had apparently used to terrorize other people in
the community. “The principle upon which this lawsuit is brought,” said the Colombians’
attorney Jonathan Reiter, “is that when you put money into the hands of terrorists, when
you put guns into the hands of terrorists, then you are legally responsible for the atrocities,
the murders and the tortures that those terrorists commit.”
Chiquita’s problems began in the early 2000s, when the United Self-Defense Forces
of Colombia attempted to extort substantial payments from the company to help fund the
group’s operations. The paramilitary group made it clear that if the company did not make
the payments Chiquita’s employees would be at risk. The company’s managers took these
threats seriously, because they were aware that in 1995 the paramilitary group had been
responsible for bombing Chiquita’s operations and murdering 17 banana workers, who had
been gunned down on a muddy soccer field.

Key Terms stages of moral
development, 104
U.S. Corporate Sentencing
Guidelines, 96
utilitarian reasoning, 107
virtue ethics, 106

business ethics, 94
conflict of interest, 100
ethical egoist, 99
ethical principles, 93
ethical relativism, 94
ethics, 93

human rights, 108
justice, 109
laws, 94
Act, 97
spirituality, 103

Resources Ethics Resource Center Institute for Business Ethics International Business Ethics Institute Josephson Institute Sarbanes-Oxley Act U.S. Office of Government Ethics U.S. Sentencing Commission Center for Spirituality at Work

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Chiquita’s mission emphasized a strong sense of ethical performance and social respon-
sibility. It stated that it wanted “to help the world’s consumers broaden mindsets about nutri-
tion and bring healthy, nutritious, and convenient foods that taste great and improve people’s
lives.” Therefore, it was not surprising that Chiquita’s management also wanted to protect its
employees and ensure their safety while working for the company. In a handwritten note, a
Chiquita executive said that such payments were the “cost of doing business in Colombia.”
The company agreed to make the payments demanded by the paramilitary group, but hid
the payments through a series of questionable accounting actions. From 1997 through 2004
Chiquita paid monthly “protection payments” totaling more than $1.7 million.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the United States, the U.S. Government
declared the Colombian paramilitary group to be a terrorist organization. In February 2003,
a Chiquita employee informed a senior Chiquita officer that the company’s protection pay-
ments were illegal under the new U.S. terrorism laws. Chiquita officials met with their attor-
neys in Washington, DC, and were advised to stop the payments to the terrorist group. Yet the
company continued to make the protection payments, amounting to an additional $825,000.
In the minds of the Chiquita’s executives, stopping the payments would risk the lives of
their employees. Chiquita’s executives also considered but rejected the option of withdraw-
ing operations from Colombia. But in a surprising move in April 2003, Chiquita decided
to disclose to the Department of Justice that the company was still making payments to the
Colombian paramilitary group. The company told the government that the payments were
made under the threat of violence against them and their employees.
The Justice Department informed Chiquita that these payments were illegal, yet the
company continued to make the payments. In 2007 Chiquita Brands International pleaded
guilty to one count of the criminal charge of engaging in transactions with a designated
global terrorist group and agreed to pay a $25 million fine.
In explaining its actions, a company spokesperson stated that “Chiquita and its employ-
ees were victims and that the actions taken by the company were always motivated to
protect the lives of our employees and their families.” He added, “Our company had been
forced to make protection payments to safeguard our workforce. It is absolutely untrue for
anyone to suggest that these payments were made for any other purpose.”

Sources: “Chiquita Brands International Pleads Guilty to Making Payments to a Designated Terrorist Organization and Agrees
to Pay $25 Million Fine,” U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, March 19, 2007,
nsd_161.html; “Colombian Families’ Suit Says Chiquita Liable for Torture, Murder,”, February 14, 2007, www.cnn.
com/2007/US/law/11/14/chiquita.lawsuit; “Chiquita Sued Over Colombian Paramilitary Payments,” The Sacramento Bee, May
30, 2011,; and “US Appeals Court Says Colombians Cannot Sue Chiquita,” BBC News, July 24, 2014, www.


1. Do you agree with the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that cleared Chiquita of any
liability for the victims killed by the paramilitary group that Chiquita funded? Construct
an ethical argument that supports your view.

2. Using each of the four methods of ethical reasoning (see Figure 5.6), was it ethical or
not for Chiquita to pay the terrorist organization when payments were demanded in the
early 2000s?

3. Should the U.S. ban against supporting terrorist groups, imposed after the September
11, 2001, attacks in the United States, be applied in this situation? Why or why not?

4. Is there anything that Chiquita could have done to protect its employees adequately
without paying the terrorists?

5. Should Chiquita be assessed a penalty that puts the firm out of business for their

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Organizational Ethics
Faced with increasing pressure to create an ethical environment at work, businesses can take tangible
steps to improve their ethical performance. The organization’s culture and ethical work climate play a
central role in promoting ethics at work. Ethical situations arise in all areas and functions of business,
and often professional associations seek to guide managers in addressing these challenges. Corpo-
rations can also implement ethical safeguards to create a comprehensive ethics program. This can
become a complex challenge when facing different customs and regulations around the world.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 6-1 Classifying an organization’s culture and ethical climate.

LO 6-2 Recognizing ethics challenges across the multiple functions of business.

LO 6-3 Creating effective ethics policies, ethics reporting mechanisms, ethics training programs, and simi-
lar safeguards.

LO 6-4 Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a comprehensive ethics program.

LO 6-5 Understanding how to conduct business ethically in the global marketplace.

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In 2014 Takata Corporation, a major supplier of automobile air bags, admitted a defect
with their product and recalled more than 34 million vehicles—about one in every seven
cars on the road—making the automotive recall the largest in U.S. history. The recalls were
spawned by a series of deaths and injuries from automobile accidents in which the airbag
propellant deployed with such force that it ruptured its container, shooting metal parts at
the driver or front seat passenger. Eleven automakers—including Toyota, Mazda, Honda,
BMW, Nissan, General Motors, and Chrysler—mandated recalls. Later it was revealed that
Takata knew about the defects. The company had secretly conducted tests in 2004 after nor-
mal work hours and on weekends and holidays, and executives had ordered its engineers to
delete the test results from their computers.

On January 7, 2013, a lithium-ion battery, made by the Boeing Company, exploded on a
Japan Airlines Boeing Dreamliner 787 jet parked at Boston’s Logan Airport, setting off an
intense fire. Earlier that month, All Nippon Airlines reported unexpectedly low charges on
its main battery and the pilot smelled smoke in the cockpit, causing another Boeing plane
to make an emergency landing in Japan. These two incidents led to the global grounding
of all Boeing 787 planes until safety investigations were conducted. Boeing knew that the
batteries tended to overheat but said that this would not threaten the planes and their pas-
sengers. Nearly four months later Boeing 787s returned to the skies, only to have an internal
on-board fire ignite on an Ethiopian Airlines 787 parked at Heathrow Airport in July 2013.1

Around the world, dozens and dozens of other companies were charged with account-
ing fraud, mishandling investors’ funds, market improprieties, jeopardizing the safety of
consumers, and many other illegal activities. Why are business executives, managers, and
employees repeatedly being caught conducting illegal and unethical activities? What can
firms do to minimize or prevent the unethical activities perpetrated by their executives
and employees? Could companies set in place systems or programs to monitor workplace
activities to detect illegal or unethical behavior?

Corporate Ethical Climates

Personal values and moral character play key roles in improving a company’s ethical per-
formance, as discussed in Chapter 5. However, they do not stand alone, because personal
values and character can be affected by a company’s culture and ethical climate.

The terms culture and climate are often used interchangeably and, in fact, are highly
interrelated. Corporate culture is a blend of ideas, customs, traditional practices, company
values, and shared meanings that help define normal behavior for everyone who works in
a company. Culture is “the way we do things around here.” Anne Harris, a long-time ethics
and compliance offer, explained the impact of having a good corporate culture:

“Companies with lower rates of ethical misconduct have both strong E&C [ethics
and compliance] program elements and strong ethical cultures. In such companies,
employees also experience less pressure to compromise standards, greater willing-
ness to speak up internally, and less retaliation.”2

The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) observed that a “strong ethical culture in a company has
a profound impact on the kinds of workplace behavior that can put a business in jeopardy.”
According to an ERC study, organizations with strong ethical cultures find that fewer than 5 per-
cent of their employees feel pressure to commit misconduct, compared with 15 percent in ones

2 Anne R. Harris, “Want an Ethical Company? Keys for Fostering an Ethical Culture,” CR Magazine, May/June 2014, pp. 36–37.

1 “Takata Saw and Hid Risk in Airbags in 2004, Former Workers Say,” The New York Times, November 6, 2014, www.nytimes.
com; “Mazda Expands Recall of Takata Airbags,” The New York Times, December 12, 2014,; “Boeing 787
Battery Was a Concern before Failure,” The New York Times, January 29, 2013,; and “Boeing 787 Dream-
liner Catches Fire in London,” The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2013,

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with weak ethical cultures. Nearly twice as many employees observe misconduct by coworkers
in weak ethical cultures companies (76 percent) as in strong ethical cultures (39 percent).3

Most companies have a kind of moral atmosphere. People can feel which way the ethi-
cal winds are blowing. They pick up subtle hints and clues that tell them what behavior is
approved and what is forbidden. The ethical climate represents an unspoken understanding
among employees of what is and is not acceptable behavior based on the expected stan-
dards or norms used for ethical decision making. It is the part of broader corporate culture
that sets the ethical tone in a company. One way to view ethical climates is diagrammed in
Figure 6.1. Three distinct ethical criteria are egoism (self-centeredness), benevolence (con-
cern for others), and principle (respect for one’s own integrity, for group norms, and for
society’s laws). (These parallel the levels of moral development developed by Lawrence
Kohlberg that are discussed in Chapter 5.) These ethical criteria can be used to describe
how individuals, a company, or society at large approach various moral dilemmas.

For example, if a company approaches ethics issues with benevolence in mind, it would
emphasize friendly relations with its employees, stress the importance of team play and
cooperation for the company’s benefit, and recommend socially responsible courses of
action. However, a company using egoism would be more likely to think first of promoting
the company’s profit and striving for efficient operations at all costs, perhaps at the sake of
others or the environment, as illustrated by the following example:

Barrick, a Toronto-based gold-mining corporation, was listed as one of the least
ethical companies according to Covalence, a Swiss research firm. Allegations
against the company included charges that it participated in the burning of at least
130 homes near its Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea and that it manipulated land
titles in Australia and Chile. The company was also blamed in a toxic spill in
Tanzania that left dangerous levels of arsenic in the area around its North Mara
mine. Barrick’s attempts to mine along the Argentina-Chile border were associated
with a significant shrinking of nearby glaciers. These allegations would point to a
company placing its own interests ahead of others.4

Researchers have found that multiple ethical climates, or subclimates, may exist within
one organization. For example, one company might include managers who often interact
with the public and government regulators, using a principle-based approach, compared to
another group of managers, whose work is geared toward routine process tasks and whose
focus is mainly egotistic—higher personal pay or company profits.5

3 “A Strong Culture Is a Key to Cutting Misconduct on the Job,” Ethics Resource Center, June 23, 2010,
4 “The 12 Least Ethical Companies In the World: Covalence’s Ranking,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011,
5 James Weber, “Influences upon Organizational Ethical Subclimates: A Multi-departmental Analysis of a Single Firm,”
Organization Science 6 (1995), pp. 509–23. For a summary of ethical climate research, see Aditya Simha and John B. Cullen,
“Ethical Climates and Their Effects on Organizational Outcomes: Implications from the Past and Prophesies for the Future,”
Academy of Management Perspectives, 2012, pp. 20–34.

Ethical Criteria Focus of Individual Person Organization Society

Egoism (self-centered

Self-interest Company interest Economic efficiency

Benevolence (concern-
far-others approach)

Friendship Team interest Social responsibility

Principle (integrity

Personal morality Company rules and

Laws and professional

The Components of
Ethical Climates

Source: Adapted from Bart
Victor and John B. Cullen, “The
Organizational Bases of Ethical
Work Climates,” Administrative
Science Quarterly 33 (1988),
p. 104.

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Corporate ethical climates can also signal to employees that ethical transgressions are
acceptable. By signaling what is considered to be right and wrong, corporate cultures and
ethical climates can pressure people to channel their actions in certain directions desired
by the company. This kind of pressure can work both for and against good ethical practices.

Business Ethics across Organizational Functions

Not all ethics issues in business are the same. Because business operations are highly special-
ized, ethics issues can appear in any of the major functional areas of a business firm. Account-
ing, finance, marketing, information technology, and other areas of business all have their
own particular brands of ethical dilemmas. In many cases, professional associations in these
functional areas have attempted to define a common set of ethical standards, as discussed next.

Accounting Ethics
The accounting function is a critically important component of every business firm. By
law, the financial records of publicly held companies are required to be audited by a cer-
tified professional accounting firm. Company managers, external investors, government
regulators, tax collectors, and labor unions rely on such public audits to make key deci-
sions. Honesty, integrity, and accuracy are absolute requirements of the accounting func-
tion, and the impact can be devastating for organizations when these values are absent.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed an administrative proceed-
ing against five accounting firms, alleging they refused to hand over documents
sought in an investigation of alleged accounting fraud at nine Chinese companies.
This action, if supported by an administrative judge, could bar the four largest U.S.
accounting firm’s Chinese affiliates from auditing U.S.-traded companies. At the
core of this inquiry was the fact that dozens of Chinese companies made billions
of dollars by listing their shares of stock on U.S. stock exchanges before their share
prices plummeted, raising questions about their bookkeeping and disclosures.6

Accountants often are faced with conflicts of interest, introduced in Chapter 5, where loyalty
or obligation to the company (the client) may be divided or in conflict with self-interest (of the
accounting firm) and the interests of others (shareholders and the public). For example, while
conducting an audit of a company, should the auditor look for opportunities to recommend to
the client consulting services that the auditor’s firm can provide? Sometimes, accounting firms
may be tempted to soften their audit of a company’s financial statements if the accounting firm
wants to attract the company’s nonaudit business. For this reason, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act
severely limits the offering of nonaudit consulting services by the auditing firm.

Examples of the U.S. accounting profession’s efforts promoting ethics are shown in
Exhibit 6.A. Spurred by a threat of liability suits filed against accounting firms and a desire
to reaffirm professional integrity, these standards go far toward ensuring a high level of
honest and ethical accounting behavior.7

Financial Ethics
Within companies, the finance department and its officers are typically responsible for man-
aging the firm’s assets and raising capital—for example, by issuing stocks and bonds. Finan-
cial institutions, such as commercial banks, securities firms, and so forth, assist in raising

6 “U.S. Sues Big Firms over China Audits,” The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2012,
7 For several excellent examples of ethical dilemmas in accounting, see Leonard J. Brooks and Paul Dunn, Business & Profes-
sional Ethics for Directors, Executives and Accountants, 7th ed. (Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015); and Ronald Duska,
Brenda Duska, and Julie Ragatz, Accounting Ethics, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

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Professional Codes of Conduct in
Accounting and Finance


Code of Professional Conduct
These Principles of the Code of Professional Conduct of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
express the profession’s recognition of its responsibilities to the public, to clients, and to colleagues. They
guide members in the performance of their professional responsibilities and express the basic tenets of ethi-
cal and professional conduct. The Principles call for an unswerving commitment to honorable behavior, even
at the sacrifice of personal advantage.

• Responsibilities—In carrying out their responsibilities as professionals, members should exercise sensi-
tive professional and moral judgments in all their activities. . . .

• The Public Interest—Members should accept the obligation to act in a way that will serve the public inter-
est, honor the public trust, and demonstrate commitment to professionalism. . . .

• Integrity—To maintain and broaden public confidence, members should perform all professional respon-
sibilities with the highest sense of integrity. . . .

• Objectivity and Independence—A member should maintain objectivity and be free of conflicts of interest
in discharging professional responsibilities. A member in public practice should be independent in fact
and appearance when providing auditing and other attestation services. . . .

• Due Care—A member should observe the profession’s technical and ethical standards, strive continually
to improve competence and the quality of services, and discharge professional responsibility to the best
of the member’s ability. . . .

• Scope and Nature of Services—A member in public practice should observe the Principles of the Code of
Professional Conduct in determining the scope and nature of services to be provided.*


Summary from CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct
Members of CFA Institute (including Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charterholders) and candidates for
the CFA designation (“Members and Candidates”) must:

• Act with integrity, competence, diligence, respect, and in an ethical manner with the public, clients, pro-
spective clients, employers, employees, colleagues in the investment profession, and other participants
in the global capital markets.

• Place the integrity of the investment profession and the interests of clients above their own personal

• Use reasonable care and exercise independent professional judgment when conducting investment anal-
ysis, making investment recommendations, taking investment actions, and engaging in other professional

• Practice and encourage others to practice in a professional and ethical manner that will reflect credit on
themselves and the profession.

• Promote the integrity and viability of the global capital markets for the ultimate benefit of society.
• Maintain and improve their professional competence and strive to maintain and improve the competence

of other investment professionals.†

Exhibit 6.A

*Reprinted from the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, copyright © 2014. American Institute of CPAs. All rights reserved. Used
with permission. For a full text of the professional code, see

†Copyright 2014, CFA Institute. Reproduced with permission from CFA Institute. All Rights Reserved. For full text see www.cfapubs.

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capital and managing assets for both individuals and institutions. Whether working directly
for a business or in a firm that provides financial services, finance professionals face a par-
ticular set of ethical issues. Consider the following ethical lapses in corporate finance:

∙ More than 100 former loan officers at Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase were accused
of accepting kickbacks as part of a scheme to steer business to a now defunct title
insurance company, Genuine Title. In one instance, Genuine Title reportedly paid tens
of thousands of dollars to a former Wells Fargo employee’s wife as kickbacks for busi-
ness referrals. Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $24 million penalty and $10.8 million to
consumers harmed by the scheme in a consent decree agreement. JP Morgan was fined
$600,000 and must pay $300,000 to customers.

∙ The LIBOR financial scandal, named after the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR)
benchmark, resulted in numerous large banks agreeing to settlement payments to avoid
costly litigation. Traders from some of the world’s largest banks were accused of col-
luding to influence foreign-currency rates for their own financial benefit. London-based
ICAP, a British multinational operator and provider of posttrade risk mitigation and
information services, agreed to pay $87 million. Settlement agreements by Barclays,
Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and the Royal Bank of Scotland totaled more than $5
billion in combined penalties and executives at their banks plead guilty to criminal
charges. UBS received immunity on some charges but pled guilty to manipulating the
London interbank rate and paid $545 million in fines.8

These and other lapses in ethical conduct occurred despite efforts by the finance profes-
sions to foster an ethical environment. As shown in Exhibit 6.A, the highly regarded Char-
tered Financial Analyst Institute, which oversees financial executives performing many
different types of jobs in the financial discipline, emphasizes self-regulation as the best
path for ethical compliance.9

Marketing Ethics
Marketing refers to advertising, distributing, and selling products or services. Within
firms, the marketing department is the functional area that typically interacts most directly
with customers. Outside the firm, advertising agencies and other firms provide marketing
services to businesses. The complex set of activities involved in marketing generates its
own distinctive ethical issues.

One issue in marketing ethics emphasizes honesty and fairness in advertising, espe-
cially toward children.

In 2014, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Gerber Products Company
for claiming that its Good Start Gentle formula could prevent or reduce allergies in
children. The FTC argued that the claim was bogus and misleading, and demanded
that Gerber pull its claim from all formula labels and its advertisements. Gerber denied
the allegations, saying, “We are defending our position because we believe we have
met, and will continue to meet, all legal requirements to make these product claims.”10

8 “UBS Fined $47.5 Million in Rogue Trading Scandal,” The New York Times, November 26, 2012,;
“Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Loan Officers Accused of Taking Kickbacks,” The New York Times, January 22, 2015, dealbook.; “Libor Scandal Shows Pressures on ‘Honest Bankers,’” Reuters, September 25, 2013,;
“Banks to Pay $5.6 Billion in Probes, The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2015,; and “UBS Hit with $545 Million in
Fines,” The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2015, For a good example of other financial ethics issues, see John
B. Boatright, Ethics in Finance, 3rd ed. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).
9 For a good example of other financial ethics issues, see John B. Boatright, Ethics in Finance, 3rd ed. (Malden, MA:
Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).
10 “FTC Sues Gerber for False Advertising Claims,” Food Manufacturing, October 20, 2014,

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Professional Codes of Conduct in Marketing and
Information Technology


Statement of Ethics
The American Marketing Association commits itself to promoting the highest standard of professional ethical
norms and values for its members (practitioners, academics, and students).
As Marketers, we must:

1. Do no harm. This means consciously avoiding harmful actions or omissions by embodying high ethical
standards and adhering to all applicable laws and regulations in the choices we make.

2. Foster trust in the marketing system. This means striving for good faith and fair dealing so as to contrib-
ute toward the efficacy of the exchange process as well as avoiding deception in product design, pricing,
communication, and delivery of distribution.

3. Embrace ethical values. This means building relationships and enhancing consumer confidence in the
integrity of marketing by affirming these core values: honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, transpar-
ency, and citizenship.

We expect AMA members to be courageous and proactive in leading and/or aiding their organizations in
the fulfillment of the explicit and implicit promises made to those stakeholders.*


Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
This code begins with a commitment by each association’s member to:

• Promote the understanding of information processing methods and procedures to management using
every resource at my command,

• . . . an obligation to my fellow members . . . to uphold the ideals of AITP . . . and shall cooperate with my
fellow members and treat them with honesty and respect at all times,

• . . . an obligation to society and will participate to the best of my ability in the dissemination of knowledge
pertaining to the general development and understanding of information processing . . .

• . . . an obligation to my employer whose trust I hold . . . I shall endeavor to discharge this obligation to the
best of my ability, to guard my employer’s interests, and to advise him wisely and honestly,

• . . . an obligation to my country . . . I shall uphold my nation and shall honor the chosen way of life of my
fellow citizens,

• I accept these obligations as a personal responsibility and as a member of this Association.**

Exhibit 6.B

* Used with permission from the American Marketing Association’s Statement of Ethics, 2016, as it appears in

** Copyright 2011–14, Association of Information Technology Professionals. A full text of the AITP code of ethics can be found at

In addition to the general ethical questions that surround the marketing or advertising
of products to consumers, consumer health and safety are another key ethics issue in mar-
keting. Chapter 14 discusses several other issues in marketing ethics, including deceptive
advertising, firm liability for consumer injury, and a firm’s responsibility for the unethical
use of products by buyers.

To improve the ethics of the marketing profession, the American Marketing Association
(AMA) has adopted a code of ethics for its members, as shown in Exhibit 6.B. The AMA
code advocates professional conduct guided by ethics, adherence to applicable laws, and
honesty and fairness in all marketing activities. The code seeks to help marketing profes-
sionals translate general ethical principles into specific working rules.11

11 The AMA Code for Market Researchers and a discussion of numerous marketing ethics issues can be found in Patrick E. Murphy,
Gene R. Laczniak, and Andrea Prothero, Ethics in Marketing: International Cases and Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2012).

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Information Technology Ethics
One of the most complex and fast-changing areas of business ethics is in the field of infor-
mation technology. Ethical challenges in this field involve invasions of privacy; the collec-
tion and storage of, and access to, personal and business information, especially through
e-commerce transactions; confidentiality of electronic mail communication; copyright
protection regarding software, music, and intellectual property; and numerous others.

During one week in 2012, a Facebook scientist and two university researchers
manipulated nearly 700,000 Facebook users’ news feeds to gauge whether emotions
spread on social media. The investigation revealed that users who saw more posi-
tive posts tended to write more positive posts themselves and vice versa. This study
generated many complaints about a lack of ethical standards, since Facebook users,
many of whom were younger than 18, were not notified of being manipulated in
this way and were unwittingly used as “lab rats.” This study shined a light on how
companies and researchers can tap vast amounts of data created online.12

As discussed in later chapters of this book, the explosion of information technology has
raised serious questions of trust between individuals and businesses. In response to calls by
businesspeople and academics for an increase in ethical responsibility in the information
technology field, professional organizations have developed or revised professional codes
of ethics, as shown in Exhibit 6.B.13

Other Functional Areas
Production and operations functions, which may seem remote from ethics considerations,
have also been at the center of some ethics storms.

Mylan Inc., the world’s third largest manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals,
abruptly halted production at its Morgantown, West Virginia, plant and privately
informed workers that two employees had violated government-mandated qual-
ity control procedures. These procedures were intended to ensure the safety and
effectiveness of their manufactured prescription drugs. A confidential internal
report leaked to a local newspaper said that workers routinely overrode computer-
generated warnings about potential problems with the medications they were pro-
ducing. The report said that this practice was “pervasive,” occurring on all three
shifts at the plant for at least two years.14

Similar to the other professional associations, whose codes of ethical conduct are pre-
sented in Exhibits 6.A and 6.B, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) developed a
professional code of ethics that advocates “loyalty to your organization, justice to those
with whom you deal, and faith in your profession.” The professional code denotes 12 prin-
ciples and standards “to encourage adherence to an uncompromising level of integrity.”15

Efforts by professional associations to guide their members toward effective resolution
of ethical challenges make one point crystal clear: All areas of business, all people in busi-
ness, and all levels of authority in business encounter ethics dilemmas from time to time.

12 “Facebook Study Sparks Soul-Searching and Ethical Questions,” The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2014,
13 For further discussion of ethics in information technology see Sara Baase, A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for
Computing and the Internet, 4th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012); and Richard A. Spinello, Cyberethics: Morality
and Law in Cyberspace, 5th ed. (Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2014).
14 “Mylan Workers Overrode Drug Quality Controls,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 26, 2009,
15 All quotations are from the Institute for Supply Management’s Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management
Conduct, available to members of the association at

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Ethics issues are a common thread running through the business world. Specific steps that
businesses can take to make ethics work are discussed next.

Making Ethics Work in Corporations

Any business firm can improve the quality of its ethical performance. Doing so requires
a company to build ethical safeguards into its everyday routines. This is sometimes called
institutionalizing ethics. The proportion of the world’s largest firms (the Fortune 500 or
1000 as reported in Fortune magazine each year) that have adopted these safeguards since
the 1980s is shown in Figure 6.2.

A 2015 Ethics Research Center study found that employees in large organizations with
an effective ethics and compliance program were less likely to feel pressure to compro-
mise their ethical standards (3 percent), compared to those without effective programs
(23 percent). They were also less likely to observe misconduct (33 percent versus 62 percent)
and less likely to experience retaliation (4 percent versus 59 percent). Employees at orga-
nizations with an effective ethics program were nearly three times more likely to report
observed misconduct at work (87 percent versus 32 percent).16

Building Ethical Safeguards into the Company
Managers and employees need guidance on how to handle day-to-day ethical situations;
their own personal ethical compass may be working well, but they need to receive direc-
tional signals from the company. Several organizational steps can be taken to provide this
kind of ethical awareness and direction.

Lynn Sharp Paine, a Harvard Business School professor, has described two distinct
approaches to ethics programs: a compliance-based approach and an integrity-based
approach. A compliance-based program seeks to avoid legal sanctions. This
approach emphasizes the threat of detection and punishment in order to channel
employee behavior in a lawful direction. Paine also described an integrity-based

Percentage of Firms
Reporting They Have
the Ethical Safeguard

Sources: Center for Business
Ethics, “Are Corporations
Institutionalizing Ethics?”
Journal of Business Ethics 5
(1986), pp. 85–91; Center for
Business Ethics, “Instilling
Ethical Values in Large
Corporations,” Journal of
Business Ethics 11 (1992),
pp. 863–67; Ethics Resources
Center, Ethics in American
Business: Policies, Programs
and Perceptions (Washington,
DC, Ethics Resource Center,
1994); Ethics Resource Center,
National Business Ethics
Survey: How Employees View
Ethics in Their Organizations
1994–2005, (Washington, DC,
Ethics Resource Center, 2005);
and James Weber and David
Wasieleski, “Corporate Ethics
and Compliance Programs: A
Report, Analysis and Critique,”
Journal of Business Ethics 112
(2013), pp. 609–26.

16 “The State of Ethics in Large Companies,” Ethics Research Center, 2015,

Developed code
of ethics

O�ered ethics

Created ethics

Established ethics







Center for Business Ethics, 1986

Center for Business Ethics, 1992

Ethics Resource Center, 1994

Ethics Resource Center, 2005

Weber and Wasieleski, 2013

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approach to ethics programs. Integrity-based ethics programs combine a con-
cern for the law with an emphasis on employee responsibility for ethical conduct.
Employees are told to act with integrity and conduct their business dealings in an
environment of honesty and fairness. From these values a company will nurture and
maintain business relationships and will be profitable.17

Researchers found that both approaches lessened unethical conduct, although in some-
what different ways. Compliance-based ethics programs increased employees’ willingness
to seek ethical advice and sharpened their awareness of ethical issues at work. Integri-
ty-based programs, for their part, increased employees’ sense of integrity, commitment to
the organization, willingness to deliver bad news to supervisors, and their perception that
better decisions were made.18

Top Management Commitment and Involvement

Research has consistently shown that the “tone at the top”—the example set by top
executives—is critical to fostering ethical behavior. When senior-level managers and
directors signal employees, through their own behavior, that they believe ethics should
receive high priority in all business decisions, they have taken a giant step toward improv-
ing ethical performance throughout the company.

Whether the issue is sexual harassment, honest dealing with suppliers, or the reporting
of expenses, the commitments (or lack thereof) by senior management and the employees’
immediate supervisor and their involvement in ethics as a daily influence on employee
behavior are the most essential safeguards for creating an ethical workplace.

Ethics Policies or Codes

As shown in Figure 6.2, many U.S. businesses, especially large firms, have ethics policies
or codes. An example of one of the first corporate ethics codes is shown in Exhibit 6.C.
The purpose of such policies and codes is to provide guidance to managers and employ-
ees when they encounter an ethical dilemma. Research has shown significant differences
among countries. In the United States and Latin America, ethics policies were found to
be primarily instrumental—that is, they provided rules and procedures for employees to
follow in order to adhere to company policies or societal laws. In Japan, most policies were
a mixture of legal compliance and statements of the company’s values and mission. Values
and mission policies were also popular with European and Canadian companies.19 Despite
some differences in orientation, codes of ethics are clearly becoming more common.

Typically, ethics policies cover issues such as developing guidelines for accepting or
refusing gifts from suppliers, avoiding conflicts of interest, maintaining the security of pro-
prietary information, and avoiding discriminatory personnel practices. Yet, researchers have
found that a written ethics policy, while an important contributor, is insufficient by itself to
bring about ethical conduct. Companies must circulate ethics policies frequently and widely
among employees and external stakeholder groups (for example, customers, suppliers, or
competitors). Many companies use posters, quick reference guides, and brochures to raise
awareness and importance of their code. One study reported that 86 percent of all firms
made substantial progress toward the deployment of their codes of conduct in 2013.20

17 Lynn Sharp Paine, “Managing for Organizational Integrity,” Harvard Business Review, March–April 1994, pp. 106–17.
18 Gary R. Weaver and Linda Klebe Trevino, “Compliance and Values Oriented Ethics Programs: Influences on Employees’
Attitudes and Behavior,” Business Ethics Quarterly 9 (1999), pp. 315–35.
19 Ronald C. Berenbeim, Global Corporate Ethics Practices: A Developing Consensus (New York: Conference Board, 1999).
20 “The 2014 Ethics and Compliance Program Effectiveness Report,” LRN, 2014, pp. 30–31.

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Ethics and Compliance Officers

Ethical lapses in large corporations throughout the 1980s prompted many firms to create
a new position: the ethics and compliance officer (ECO), or sometimes called the chief
compliance officer (CCO) or the chief integrity officer (CIO). A second surge of attention
to ethics and the creation of ethics offices came in response to the 1991 U.S. Corporate
Sentencing Guidelines, discussed in Chapter 5. Finally, the recent wave of corporate ethics
scandals and the passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act have again turned businesses’ attention
toward entrusting ethical compliance and the development and implementation of ethics
programs to an ethics or compliance officer. From 2000 to 2004, the number of members
in the Ethics Officer Association doubled from 632 to more than 1200 members and con-
tinued to grow to approximately 1300 members representing over 400 organizations in over
50 countries by 2015. To reflect the growing number of compliance officers heading com-
panies’ ethics programs, this association changed its name to the Ethics and Compliance
Officer Association (ECOA). One member of the ECOA is profiled in Exhibit 6.D.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers global survey reported that 41 percent of U.S.- and U.K.-
based compliance officers still report to the legal department, but that trend is declining;
more CCOs now report formally to the firm’s CEO. Although this practice is more com-
mon in the United Kingdom, 28 percent of U.S. CCOs in 2013 reported to their CEO,
compared to 20 percent in 2012. Another study found that it was more common for the
ethics officer to report to the general counsel (chief legal officer) in less effective ethics
programs, whereas ethics officers working in more effective ethics programs were more
likely to report to the CEO or the board of directors.21

21 “More Compliance Officers Report to CEO—PwC Survey,” Ethikos, July/August 2013, pp. 9–10; and “2014 LRN Report,” Ibid., p. 9.

United States Steel Corporation’s
The Gary Principles

Drafted by Judge Elbert Gary, the first chairman of United States Steel Corporation, and distributed through-
out the company in 1909, The Gary Principles stated the following:

• I believe that when a thing is right, it will ultimately and permanently succeed.
• The highest rewards come from honest and proper practice. Bad results come in the long run from selfish,

unfair, and dishonest conduct.
• I believe in competition . . . that the race should be won by the swiftest, and that success should come to

him who is most earnest and active and persevering.
• I believe that no industry can permanently succeed that does not treat its employees equitably and

• I believe thoroughly in publicity. The surest and wisest of all regulation is public opinion.
• If we are to succeed in business, we must do it on principles that are honest, fair, lawful, and just.
• We must put and keep ourselves on a platform so fair, so high, so reasonable, that we will attract the

attention and invite and secure the approval of all who know what we are doing.
• We do not advocate combinations or agreements in restraint of trade, nor action of any kind which is

opposed to the laws or to the public welfare.
• We must never forget that our rights and interests are and should be subservient to the public welfare,

that the rights and interests of the individual must always give way to those of the public.

Exhibit 6.C

Reproduced with permission, United States Steel Corporation.

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Meet Haydee Olinger, McDonald’s Chief Global
Compliance Officer

Ms. Haydee Olinger is McDonald’s corporate vice president and chief global compliance officer. After pro-
gressing through a series of compliance positions within McDonald’s, where Olinger was instrumental in
the company’s entry into and growth throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico,
Olinger was appointed the global compliance officer overseeing the company’s global compliance and pri-
vacy efforts. She has the responsibility to ensure that McDonald’s employees’ behaviors are consistent with
McDonald’s Standards of Business Conduct and that the company meets all legal and regulatory compliance
requirements. She reports regularly to the Board of Director’s Audit Committee and provides advice and
counsel to senior management, general counsels, and presidents throughout the McDonald’s global network.
She also is entrusted with assessing current and future risks of bribery, kickbacks, fraud, and other forms
of criminal activity; developing strategies for the treatment of whistle-blower complaints; and monitors the
company’s global reporting hotline, in compliance with the U.S. Sarbanes–Oxley Act. Olinger earned a law
degree and has a master’s of science in leadership and business ethics to support her professional duties as
an ethics and compliance officer.

Sources: Information provided by Ms. Haydee Olinger, including her job description and professional biography.

Exhibit 6.D

Ethics Reporting Mechanisms

In most companies, when employees are troubled about some ethical issue they seek
out their immediate supervisor or someone else in senior management. But what if the
employee is reluctant, for whatever reason, to raise the issue with their immediate supervi-
sor? In that case, they can turn to their company’s ethics reporting mechanisms and call a
“helpline” or send an e-mail expressing their concerns, anonymously if they wish. Ethics
reporting systems typically have three uses: (1) to provide interpretations of proper ethical
behavior involving conflicts of interest and the appropriateness of gift giving, (2) to create
an avenue to make known to the proper authorities allegations of unethical conduct, and
(3) to give employees and other corporate stakeholders a way to discover general informa-
tion about a wide range of work-related topics.

A 2014 study found that 87 percent of firms made at least substantial progress on pro-
viding employees with a secure and anonymous channel for reporting concerns. Another
study found that more than one-third of the firms surveyed reported that the volume of
calls to the organization’s reporting mechanism increased somewhat or a great deal in the
last two years and only 12 percent of firms reported a decline in calls.22

While more and more employees are willing to use their companies’ ethical reporting
mechanisms, a number of challenges remain. Executives tend to use the helpline more
often than those farther down the organizational chart. The Ethics Resource Center study
found that middle managers were “an area of vulnerability within companies” since they
were less likely to use the helpline. The report also discovered that rates of helpline usage
were lower in foreign-owned companies than in their U.S. counterparts. Yet, many busi-
nesses described greater success when employees use the company’s helpline/hotline and
were better able to avoid more serious ethical violations. Technology seemed to be the key.

Medtronics’ global chief ethics and compliance officer, Tom Schumacher, received
hotline reports quicker and more frequently through his handheld device. Employ-
ees can report possible violations online. For some firms, 60 to 70 percent of all
reports arrived via the Internet. A web-based reporting system can be designed
to solicit information from the employee for a more detailed and helpful report.

22 “2014 LRN Study,” Ibid., p. 30; and “Helpline Calls and Incident Reports,” Society of Corporate Compliance, 2014.

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According to Schumacher, “I really like the [enhanced] ability to communicate with
an anonymous reporter” since the system is more secure than in the past.23

But no matter how advanced the technology used in an ethics and compliance program,
the ethics and compliance officer never really knows what to expect when monitoring calls
to the helpline, as the following example showed:

“Oh, boy, this is one of those days,” thought the ethics officer at a midsized manu-
facturing firm when she received a call on the ethics helpline that a toilet in the com-
pany’s administration building was overflowing. She called maintenance and they
found that someone had clogged up the toilet drain. When the same call was received
a week later, the ethics officer knew she had to investigate. Through interviews with
personnel who worked on that floor, she discovered that the supervisor had refused to
allow workers to take bathroom breaks when needed, and an employee had boasted
that “he was going to get even with his supervisor and plug up the toilet” to attract
attention to unsafe working conditions. The call about the overflowing toilet and sub-
sequent investigation allowed the ethics officer to address the real issue, counsel the
supervisor, and repair the deteriorating working conditions at her company.24

Ethics Training Programs

Another step companies can take to build in ethical safeguards is to offer employee ethics
training. This is generally the most expensive and time-consuming element of an ethics
program. Studies have shown that only 20 to 40 percent of small businesses formally offer
ethics training to their employees, often using less formal ways to communicate ethical
values and procedures. Larger businesses, by contrast, usually conduct regular ethics train-
ing, as shown in Figure 6.2. An increasing number of companies, nearly 90 percent accord-
ing to one 2014 study, deployed online learning modules as part or all of their employee
ethics training. Some experts argued that the explosion of web-based ethics training may
not be as effective as the more traditional but expensive face-to-face training.25

Most ethics and compliance training programs focus on making sure employees know
what the law requires and the company expects. Few firms, however, systematically mea-
sure the effectiveness of this effort or consider the impact of new training approaches. A
new approach to employee ethics training emphasizes the importance of varied yet fre-
quent efforts at ethics training, as seen at Raytheon.

At Raytheon, ethics training tried to guide employees’ ethical decision making and
communicate important ethics messages throughout the organization. In 2010, 82 per-
cent of employees favorably rated the company’s ethics training efforts. The company
attributed this high satisfaction rate due to the delivery of ethics training through numer-
ous vehicles. All employees participated in small group sessions to study ethical dilem-
mas based on real workplace situations, watched videos that presented meaningful and
relevant ethical issues in an entertaining way, and studied online learning modules on a
wide range of topics. Follow-up assessment of the ethics training program revealed that
employees were more likely to report alleged misconduct to the ethics office.26

23For a more detailed description of Medtronics’ ethics and compliance program, see Andrew Singer, “Going Beyond
Devices: Medtronics Urges Employees to ‘Speak Up,’” Ethikos, May/June 2011, pp. 1–3, 16.
24 Based on an interview with an ethics and compliance officer who requested that her firm and her identity remain anonymous.
25 See “Is Your Ethics and Compliance Training Really Preparing Your Employees?” Compliance and Ethics Professional,
March–April 2012,
26 “Ethics: Demonstrating Our Values through Our Actions,” Raytheon’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, p. 7.

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The effectiveness of the ethics and compliance program is important to executives. Com-
panies used to conduct formal ethics audits to ensure the quality of these programs, but today
most firms have turned to a company-wide risk assessment audit to determine the effective-
ness of the ethics program along with other risks. Experts believe that integrating various
ethics safeguards into a comprehensive program is critically important and minimizes the
firm’s risk. When all five components discussed in this chapter—top management commit-
ment, ethical policies or codes, compliance officers, reporting mechanisms, and training
programs—are used together, they reinforce each other and become more effective.

Corporate Ethics Awards and Certifications
Firms are recognized for their efforts to create an ethical climate and improve ethical per-
formance by various groups and associations.

Ethisphere Magazine honors ethical leadership and business practices worldwide based on
an Ethical Quotient (EQ) score. The EQ score considers corporate responsibility performance;
governance adherence; innovation that contributes to the public’s well-being; exemplary lead-
ership to the industry; executive leadership; the firm’s legal, regulatory, and reputation track
record; and the internal systems and ethics and compliance program developed at the firm.
As seen in Chapter 5, Figure 5.3, Ethisphere’s “the world’s most ethical companies” finan-
cially outperformed the S&P 500 and FTSE 1000 every year since 2005. Figure 6.3 shows the
17 companies that have made the World’s Most Ethical Companies list each year since 2007.

The Foundation for Financial Service Professionals sponsored the American Business
Ethics Awards (ABEA). Established in 1994, the ABEA “recognizes companies that
exemplify high standards of ethical behavior in their everyday business conduct and in
response to specific crises or challenges.” In the small company category (fewer than
250 employees), Skyline Exhibitor Source of LaVergne, Tennessee, a marketing and
design company that specializes in trade show exhibit solutions, received the award in
2014. The company stated on its website that Skyline believes “in taking the time to learn
about their clients’ business, industry, and audience and to become a trusted partner to
satisfy their clients’ exhibit needs on time and on budget.” The Marvin Companies of
Warroad, Minnesota, a family-owned company that provides windows, doors, and allied
products, earned the 2014 award in the large company category (more than 2500 employ-
ees). The Marvin Companies, according to its website, “was built on an old-fashioned code
of honesty, hard work, and service to their neighbors.”27

These and other award-winning firms provide the foundation for a collection of corpo-
rate ethics role models. Their commitment to ethical values and efforts to establish effective
ethics programs demonstrate that firms can be financially successful and ethically focused.

27 A full description of the ABEA program can be found at; and
the websites for the 2014 winners are and

These firms were ranked among the highest ethical firms each year from 2007 through 2014.

AFLAC (insurance) Kao Corporation (consumer products)
Deere and Company (industrial manufacturing) Milliken & Company (industrial manufacturing)
Eaton Corporation (industrial manufacturing) PepsiCo (food & beverage)
Ecolab (chemicals) (software)
Fluor Corporation (engineering) Starbucks Coffee Company (restaurants)
The Gap (apparel) Texas Instrument (computers)
General Electric (diversified) UPS (transportation)
International Paper (paper products) Xerox (computers)
Johnson Controls (automotive)

The World’s Most
Ethical Companies
and Their Industries,
According to

Source: Information
is from the Ethisphere
website at ethisphere.

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Ethics in a Global Economy

Doing business in a global context raises a host of complex ethical challenges. One exam-
ple of unethical activity is bribery, a questionable or an unjust payment often to a govern-
ment official to ensure or facilitate a business transaction. The act of bribery introduces an
economic force that is not based on the product or service’s quality or other sales charac-
teristics, therefore the element of bribery corrupts the economic exchange.

Bribery is found in nearly every sector of the global marketplace, but is more common
in some countries than others.

A Berlin-based watchdog agency, Transparency International, annually publishes a sur-
vey that ranks countries by their level of corruption, as perceived by executives and the
public. In the 2014 survey, countries where having to pay a bribe was least likely included:
Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. At the other end of
the index, North Korea and Somalia were considered the world’s most corrupt countries,
along with Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The United States
was tied for 17th on the list of 174 countries, with Canada 10th, Germany and Iceland tied
for 12th, the United Kingdom 14th, India 85th, China 100th, and Russia 136th.28

In some settings, corruption is so common as to be almost unavoidable. In a Transpar-
ency International survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries, 27 percent of respondents
admitted they had paid a bribe in 2013. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, more than 75 per-
cent of the respondents reported paying a bribe. More than half of the Russians surveyed
thought bribing officials was the best way to solve problems, according to a Reuters poll.
In Australia, 9 out of 10 people thought bribery and corruption were wrong but unavoid-
able. A German newspaper columnist said his business had paid bribes on several occa-
sions, “because there are certain countries where there is no other way to do it.”29

Bribery has significant economic, as well as ethical, consequences. Mythili Raman, a
former senior executive at the Department of Justice explained,

“Our fight against foreign corruption is critical for so many reasons. The corrosive
effects of transnational corruption are felt not just overseas, but also here in the
United States. Although we may not experience as acutely, or as personally, some
of the consequences of foreign bribery, such as hospitals or roads that go unbuilt
because infrastructure funds are siphoned off by a corrupt official, American com-
panies are harmed. They are denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent
marketplace. Instead of being rewarded for their efficiency, innovation and honest
business practices, U.S. companies suffer at the hands of corrupt governments and
lose out to corrupt competitors.”30

The following examples further demonstrate the harmful effects of bribery.

∙ Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA announced that their corrup-
tion scandal contributed to their stock shares dropping 6.2 billion reais ($2.1 billion) in
value and led to an impairment charge of 44.6 billion reais ($14.8 billion) for 2014 after
determining that assets were overvalued on its balance sheet.

28 For a complete list of all countries according to their perceived level of corruption, see
29 “Survey Finds 25% of People Paid Bribes in Last Year,” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2013,; “Half of Rus-
sians Believe Bribery Solves ‘Problems’,” Reuters, May 13, 2010,; “Bribery ‘Wrong but Unavoidable’ in Oz,
Claim Managers,” Sify, June 20, 2010,; and “Police Raid German Pipeline Contractor Over Kickback Claim,” Earth-, August 20, 2010,
30 “Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman Speaks At the Global Anti-Corruption Compliance Congress,” Ethikos,
May/June 2014, pp. 1–2.

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∙ Alstom, a French conglomerate, plead guilty and paid $772 million to the United States
for bribing Indonesian government officials with more than $4 billion to win power
contracts from 2000 to 2011. Since Alstom has U.S. affiliate companies that are head-
quartered in Connecticut it is governed by United States laws, specifically the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act (the FCPA is introduced later in the chapter).

∙ The global aluminum manufacturer Alcoa agreed to pay $384 million to resolve one
count of federal corruption for using a middleman to bribe members of Bahrain’s royal
family and other officials to guarantee lucrative contracts with the government-run Alu-
minum Behrain, one of the largest aluminum smelters in the world.31

Efforts to Curtail Unethical Practices
Despite the prevalence of bribery, both companies and countries have taken a strong stand
against it.

Huguette Labelle, the chair of Transparency International, stated, “People believe they
have the power to stop corruption, and the number of those willing to combat the abuse of
power, secret dealings, and bribery is significant.” Seventy-one percent of respondents to a
Dow Jones Anti-Corruption survey said their companies had delayed or stopped activities
with business partners over concerns about breaking anti-corruption regulations.

In 2012, Walmart was accused of bribing Mexican government officials to expedite
the processing of building permits to speed up the firm’s expansion into that coun-
try. It was alleged that these payments violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices
Act, discussed later in this section. Since these accusations were made, Walmart’s
chief executive officer, the chief administrative officer in the United States, and its
Mexican operations general counsel have all quietly left the company. Walmart
reported that it spent nearly $500 million to change its internal operations to pre-
vent any form of bribery in the future. The firm revamped its global compliance
program, increasing its staff by more than 30 percent, to 2,000 people. The firm
also requires any potential foreign corruption violation to be reported to corporate
headquarters and the board of directors—rather than only to the regional opera-
tion’s managers as in the past—to make it more difficult for senior executives to
plead ignorance if these issues arise in the future.32

In addition, some businesses and their employees are able to combat bribery through
the use of social media technology, as described in Exhibit 6.E.

Numerous efforts are under way to curb unethical business practices throughout the
world. The most common control is through government intervention and regulation.

Since 1977, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has prohibited executives
of U.S.-based companies from paying bribes to foreign government officials, political
parties, or political candidates. To achieve this goal, the FCPA requires U.S. companies
with foreign operations to adopt accounting practices that ensure full disclosure of the
company’s transactions. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and
Exchange Commission combined to collect more than $635 million in civil and crimi-
nal penalties from individuals and corporate FCPA investigations. These investigations

31 “Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges,” The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2015,; “Alstom to Pay U.S. Record $772 Million in Fine in Bribery Scheme,” The New York Times, December 22, 2014,; and, “Alcoa Agrees to Settlement in Bahrain Bribery Case,” Washington Post, January 9, 2014, www.
32 “After Bribery Scandals, a Pattern of Quiet Departures at Walmart,” The New York Times, June 4, 2014,

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covered corporate action in 19 different countries and cut across industries ranging from
oil and gas operations to technology and financial services.33

The United Kingdom’s Bribery Act was passed in 2010. Some believed it was even more
stringent than the U.S.’s FCPA. The U.K. Bribery Act differs from the FCPA in that it

∙ prohibits the bribery of another person and receiving or accepting a bribe, whereas the
FCPA only prohibits bribery of non-U.S. government officials. Bribery of a private
business executive would be illegal under British, but not U.S., anticorruption law.

∙ does not require that the improper offer, promise, or payment be made “corruptly,” as
the FCPA does require evidence of the intent to corrupt.

∙ does not provide exemptions for “facilitating payments” or the defense that there are
reasonable and bona fide contractual or promotional expenses, as the FCPA does.

∙ contains a strict liability offense for failure to prevent bribery by commercial organiza-
tions; the FCPA does not.34

Other governments have drafted and passed new legislation to combat corruption and
bribery. In 2013, Brazil, one of the world’s top 10 largest economies, approved an antibrib-
ery law that imposed civil and criminal penalties on firms for acts committed against local
and foreign government officials. Fines can be as high as 20 percent of the company’s annual
gross revenues. India joined Brazil in 2014 by passing its own anticorruption legislation.

While enforcement is often spotty, some countries have enforced their bribery laws
aggressively. China imposed a $487 million fine on British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmith-
Kline (GSK) for bribery, after Glaxo reportedly used payoffs to persuade hospitals and
doctors to administer or sell Glaxo pharmaceuticals to their patients.35

While governmental efforts continue to emerge, a business scholar argued that “a
legalistic approach, by itself, is unlikely to be effective in curbing bribery,” since culture
has such a strong influence. Most effective in combating bribery may be an integrative
approach of economic development, social investment in education, and business-friendly
policies, in addition to anticorruption laws and punishments to combat bribery.36

The “Say No Toolkit” to Combat Bribery

The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), a British nonprofit organization established to encourage high standards
of business behavior based on ethical values, created the Say No Toolkit in 2014. The Say No Toolkit seeks to
help employees figure out how to respond to a demand for a facilitation payment, or if they should offer a busi-
ness partner a gift. It also advises organizations on how to develop adequate procedures to combat bribery
and corruption. According to IBE director Philippa Foster Back, “Anyone, at any level, in any organization, can
be offered a bribe. The Say No Toolkit supports staff by giving them clear and easily accessible guidance about
what can and cannot be accepted. Not only will the App provide an adequate procedure to combat bribery, it
could help to minimize the risks of corruption taking place.” This decision-making tool can be used either as an
application on a mobile phone or via a website and the app can be downloaded free at

Exhibit 6.E

33 “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Enforcement Activity: 2013 Year in Review and 2014 Preview,” Ropes & Gray Alert, March 28,
34 “FCPA vs. the UK Bribery Act,” Ethisphere, Quarter 3, 2010, pp. 38–41. Also see “Parallels between the UK Bribery Act and
the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,”, July 9, 2010,
35 “Finally, Companies in Brazil Can Be Prosecuted for Corruption,” Transparency International, July 8, 2013, blog.transpar-; “Indian: New Anti-Corruption Law,” The Law Library of Congress, January 8, 2014,; and “China Fines
GlaxoSmithKline Nearly $500 Million in Bribery Case,” The New York Times, September 19, 2014,
36 Rajib Sanyal, “Determinants of Bribery in International Business: The Cultural and Economic Factors,” Journal of Business
Ethics 59 (2005), pp. 139–45.

For more information visit the IBE website at

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∙ A company’s culture and ethical climate tend to shape the attitudes and actions of all
who work there, sometimes resulting in high levels of ethical behavior and at other
times contributing to less desirable ethical performance.

∙ Not all ethical issues in business are the same, but ethical challenges occur in all major
functional areas of business. Professional associations for each functional area often
attempt to provide a standard of conduct to guide practice.

∙ Companies can improve their ethical performance by creating a values-based ethics
program that relies on top management leadership and organizational safeguards, such
as ethics policies or codes, ethics and compliance offices and officers, ethics reporting
mechanisms, and ethics training programs.

∙ Companies that have a comprehensive, or multifaceted, ethics program often are better
able to promote ethical behavior at work and avoid unethical action by employees.

∙ Ethical issues, such as bribery, are evident throughout the world, and many international
agencies and national governments are actively attempting to minimize such unethical
behavior through economic sanctions and international codes.


Key Terms ethics reporting
mechanisms, 123
U.S. Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act, 128

bribery, 127
corporate culture, 114
employee ethics
training, 125
ethical climate, 115

ethics and compliance
officer, 122
ethics policies or
codes, 122

Resources CR: Corporate Responsibility Magazine Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct Ethics & Compliance Officer Association Ethics and Policy Integration Centre Ethisphere Institute Ethics Resource Center Institute for Global Ethics SAI Global International Business Ethics Institute Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Transparency International

Businesses of all sizes and from many diverse industries around the world have
attempted to respond to the increasing pressure to create an ethical environment at work.
As discussed, the organization’s culture and ethical work climate play a central role in pro-
moting ethics at work and encouraging employees to act ethically. Businesses have imple-
mented many ethical safeguards to create effective ethics programs. Challenges remain
as organizations expand their operations globally and encounter a complex network of
different customs and regulations.

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Discussion Case: Alcoa’s Core Values in Practice

Alcoa began under the name of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company in 1888, changing its
name to the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in 1907. The company was origi-
nally founded on a $20,000 investment to capitalize on Charles Martin Hall’s invention
to smelt bauxite ore into the metal known as aluminum. Within a few years, Alcoa had
developed into a model of large-scale vertical integration with control over all the inputs
to aluminum production. Now, over 125 years later, Alcoa is a global leader in lightweight
metals technology, engineering, and manufacturing, with over 60,000 employees and oper-
ations in 30 countries.
Since its inception, Alcoa has had a very strong values-based culture. Employees
learn early in their career that every decision they make and everything they do must be
aligned with the company’s values: Integrity; Environment, Health and Safety; Innovation;
Respect; and Excellence.
Since the 1990s Alcoa’s leadership has communicated their commitment to the impor-
tance of health and safety—one of the company’s core values. Alcoa has a stand-alone
environmental health and safety (EHS) organization and a dedicated global ethics and
compliance (E&C) organization. The Alcoa E&C program incorporates all of the elements
specified in the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Sarbanes–Oxley Act. The chief
ethics and compliance officer makes regular reports to Alcoa’s Audit Committee and to the
company’s Compliance Advisory Council, which includes the CEO, CFO, and chief legal
officer. E&C is responsible for global training, the code of conduct, the global anticor-
ruption and trade compliance programs, internal investigations, and the company’s global
helpline reporting system. The importance of safety, integrity, and “doing the right thing”
is regularly reinforced by management and through E&C communications.
In addition to continuous safety training and education programs, the norm at Alcoa is
to start all business meetings with a safety message to identify exits, the evacuation plans
in the event of an emergency, and other safety procedures. All locations are required to
meet the same overall goal: zero work-related injuries and illnesses. Alcoa’s management
team has made the commitment that no employee should be forced to work in an envi-
ronment where their safety and the safety of other employees might be jeopardized. Sim-
ply stated, no employee should leave work in a worse condition than when they arrived.
Through persistent attention over the years, safety at work has become deeply embedded in
Alcoa’s culture and “the way we do things around here.”
In the late 1990s, activists raised allegations at an Alcoa annual shareholders meeting
claiming that health and safety conditions at one of Alcoa’s Mexican facilities had deteri-
orated. The individual who spoke at the meeting concluded by saying that the company’s
behavior in Mexico was “inconsistent with its widely publicized values.” The company
promptly launched an investigation, and Alcoa’s then CEO personally visited the plant.
Although the company learned that many of the issues raised at the annual meeting were
unfounded, it also discovered that a few injury incidents and the subsequent actions taken
by local managers were not reported to corporate headquarters, as required by company
policy. Meetings held with local government officials over safety incidents at the facility
were also not reported, even though the results of these meetings indicated Alcoa was in
compliance with all appropriate laws and regulations.
Following the review, the company concluded that although the business unit man-
agement’s response to the safety incidents uncovered in the investigation was adequate,
there was “a breach of the letter and spirit of our communication practices with respect
to major incidents” as well as “a serious lack of understanding when it came to incident

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classification, reporting, and recordkeeping of occupational illnesses.” The lack of report-
ing these safety incidents to others in the company was viewed as unacceptable—it meant
others in the company were denied the opportunity to learn and possibly prevent similar
occurrences at other Alcoa facilities.
A change is leadership was made at the facility, despite the manager’s stellar record of
increased sales and profitability and high marks for quality and customer satisfaction. In
an open letter to the entire company, Alcoa’s then CEO re-emphasized that full compliance
with both the letter—and spirit—of Alcoa’s policies was imperative, and anything less
Over time, Alcoa’s focus on safety has paid off. In 2013, Alcoa employees and con-
tractors worldwide worked an entire calendar year fatality-free for the first time in over
five decades. The 2014 year-end Alcoa lost workday (LWD) incident rate was 0.10. (This
number represents the number of injuries and illnesses resulting in one or more days away
from work per 100 full-time workers.) That same year:

∙ 42.7% of Alcoa’s locations worldwide had zero recordable injuries
∙ 80.5% of Alcoa’s locations worldwide had zero lost workdays

These numbers reflect the commitment of not only Alcoa leaders but also the employ-
ees, who are empowered to take personal responsibility for ensuring their safety and that of
their coworkers—even if that means stopping work when they feel unsafe or unsure.
In 2013, in order to further embed and enhance a values-based culture of integrity and
compliance, Alcoa formed a global “Integrity Champion Network.” This group of high-
potential employees was appointed to work within their businesses to raise awareness, pro-
mote a “Speak-Up” culture, and provide advice on various ethics and compliance matters.
In 2014, Alcoa released a new Code of Conduct, providing a road map for “Advancing
with Integrity.” Every employee worldwide received the Code, reinforcing Alcoa’s values and
the shared responsibility for conducting business in accordance with Alcoa’s highest ethical
standards and the law. At the same time, Alcoa’s 24/7 hotline was rebranded as the “Integrity
Line.” Alcoa’s ethics and compliance program continues to focus on anticorruption, trade
compliance, and adherence with all relevant U.S. and national laws and regulations.

Sources: This case was developed with the assistance of Alcoa’s Ethics and Compliance Organization.


1. How would you classify Alcoa’s ethical work climate? Which ethical criterion, as shown
in Figure 6.1, was used by the company: egoism (self-centered), benevolence (concern
for others), or principles (integrity approach)? Or, using Professor Paine’s two distinct
ethics approaches, as discussed in this chapter, was Alcoa’s approach more compliance
or integrity?

2. What role did top management commitment play in developing the ethical work cli-
mate and organizational performance seen at Alcoa? What other ethical safeguards are
mentioned in the case to support the company’s efforts at developing a strong ethical

3. Was Alcoa justified in changing management at the facility for failure to report work-
place accidents, even though no serious harm resulted from the workplace incident?

4. Can the focus on safety seen at Alcoa be duplicated into other ethics and compliance
areas and how would this be accomplished?

5. Why do you think Alcoa’s strong values-based culture failed to prevent corrupt acts by
a subsidiary, as described earlier in the chapter? Do you think Alcoa’s creation of a new
code of conduct in 2014 will help prevent incidents like this in the future?

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Business and Public Policy

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Governments seek to protect and promote the public good and in these roles establish rules under
which business operates in society. Therefore, a government’s influence on business through pub-
lic policy and regulation is a vital concern for managers. Government’s relationship with business
can be either cooperative or adversarial. Various economic or social assistance policies significantly
affect society, in which businesses must operate. Many government regulations also impact business
directly. Managers must understand the objectives and effects of government policy and regulation,
both at home and abroad, in order to conduct business in an ethical and legal manner.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 7-1 Understanding why sometimes governments and business collaborate and other times work in
opposition to each other.

LO 7-2 Defining public policy and the elements of the public policy process.

LO 7-3 Explaining the reasons for regulation.

LO 7-4 Knowing the major types of government regulation of business.

LO 7-5 Identifying the purpose of antitrust laws and the remedies that may be imposed.

LO 7-6 Comparing the costs and benefits of regulation for business and society.

LO 7-7 Examining the conditions that affect the regulation of business in a global context.

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Uber, a U.S.-based international transportation network company founded in 2009, devel-
oped a mobile app that allowed consumers to submit a trip request, which was then routed
to one of its drivers. By 2015, the service was available in 58 countries and 300 cities
worldwide. But Uber encountered serious opposition when it attempted to expand into the
European Union. Anti-Uber forces claimed that the firm engaged in unfair competition and
its drivers did not have professional licenses, required of all taxicab drivers. Under French
law, organizing a system that put paying clients in touch with drivers without professional
licenses was punishable by 2 years in prison and a Ꞓ300,000 ($373,540) fine. Uber’s gen-
eral manager for Western Europe responded, “It’s up to the courts to ban Uberpop [the
French version of Uber]. If we’re prosecuted, then we’ll respond.” The company also filed
complaints with European Union regulators against three European Union governments—
France, Germany, and Spain—claiming that these governments had blocked their services.

In 2011, Congress passed legislation to prevent the importation of contaminated food
into the United States. About 15 percent of the food that Americans ate originated abroad,
more than double the amount 10 years earlier, as did nearly two-thirds of all fresh fruits
and vegetables. Recent data reported that one in six Americans became ill annually from
eating contaminated food; about 130,000 people were hospitalized and 3000 died each
year. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration imposed even more restrictive rules and
challenged food companies to better police imported food. American food importers were
required to audit foreign facilities, test foods when arriving in the United States, and review
records on foreign suppliers. Most major food importers and consumer advocates praised
the new rules, but some worried that they might give companies too much discretion about
whether to conduct on-site inspections where the food was grown and processed.1

What prompted or compelled governments to become more involved in their citizens’
transportation options or the assurance of food safety? How do these government’s actions
affect businesses and what they are permitted to do? How did these actions affect society
and its safety? Did government’s involvement promote or harm companies or allow other
firms to maintain their competitive advantage? Were these efforts by the governments nec-
essary and effective, or can this only be answered in time?

Governments create the conditions that make it possible for businesses to compete in
the modern economy. As shown in the opening examples, governments can act in dramatic
ways to provide or limit opportunities for businesses and control business activities to
better ensure the public’s safety. In good times and bad, government’s role is to create and
enforce the laws that balance the relationship between business and society. Governments
also hold the power to grant or refuse permission for many types of business activity. Even
the largest multinational companies, which operate in dozens of countries, must obey the
laws and public policies of national governments.

This chapter considers the ways in which government actions impact business through
the powerful twin mechanisms of public policy and regulation. The next chapter addresses
the related question of actions business may take to influence the political process.

How Business and Government Relate

The relationship between business and government is dynamic and complex. Understand-
ing the government’s authority and its relationship with business is essential for managers
in developing their strategies and achieving their organization’s goals.

1 “France Blocks Uber ‘Ride-Sharing’ Service,” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2014,; “Uber Files Com-
plaints Against European Governments Over Bans,” The Wall Street Journal, April 1/, 2015,; and, “F.D.A. Says
Importers Must Audit Food Safety,” The New York Times, July 26, 2013, Files Complaints Against Euro-
pean Governments Over Bans,” The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015,; and, “F.D.A. Says Importers Must Audit
Food Safety,” The New York Times, July 26, 2013,

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Seeking a Collaborative Partnership
In some situations, government may work closely with business to build a collaborative
partnership and seek mutually beneficial goals. They see each other as key partners in the
relationship and work openly to achieve common objectives.

The basis for this cooperation may be at the core of the nation’s societal values and
customs. In some Asian countries, society is viewed as a collective family that includes
both government and business. Thus, working together as a family leads these two powers
to seek results that benefit both society and business. In Europe, the relationship between
government and business often has been collaborative. European culture includes a sense
of teamwork and mutual aid. Unions, for example, are often included on administrative
boards with managers to lead the organization toward mutual goals through interactive
strategies. One example of government–business collaboration is shown next.

The Export-Import Bank (an agency of the U.S. government that helped finance
foreign purchases of American goods) was under pressure from its critics to provide
tighter rules for aircraft sales. In response, the bank reached out to Boeing Com-
pany, the biggest beneficiary of the bank’s assistance, to help write the new rules.
What followed was an extraordinary level of cooperation between public officials
and corporate executives. The bank and company executives exchanged e-mails,
drafted new guidelines, and eventually produced a new set of rules for aircraft
financing. The cooperation was mutually beneficial. During the two years after the
new rules were developed, all Boeing sales were approved, including the sale of 62
wide-body Boeing aircraft to foreign airlines after the bank guaranteed more than
$7 billion in loans. The Export-Import Bank also benefited, as the new rules helped
it return to sound financial footing. After they went into effect, the bank was able to
provide $20.5 billion in financing for U.S. exports and made $675 million in profit.2

The collaborative relationship between the Export–Import Bank and Boeing Corporation
served both the U.S. government agency and the U.S.-based firm, but raised some question
of a competitive bias against other firms, especially non-U.S. aircraft companies like Airbus.

Working in Opposition to Government
In other situations, government’s goals and business’s objectives are at odds, and these
conflicts result in an adversarial relationship where business and government tend to work
in opposition to each other.3

A clash between the U.S. government and the coal industry came to a head in 2013.
When the government announced new rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions, coal
companies feared that a significant number of coal-burning power plants would be
forced to shut down, and they would lose customers. The coal industry teamed up
with other business groups to challenge President Obama’s climate-change agenda.
It coordinated lobbying efforts with manufacturers and other business groups to
reach out to members of Congress, especially politicians from coal-producing states
and those with coal-burning utilities. The plan was to work with sympathetic con-
gressional representatives to modify or delay White House-supported actions that
would limit the use of domestic coal and potentially drive up electricity prices.4

Why do businesses sometimes welcome government regulation and involvement in the pri-
vate sector, and other times oppose it? Companies often prefer to operate without government
2 “Boeing Helped Craft Own Loan Rules,” The Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2015,
3 The “collaborative partnership” and “in opposition” models for business–government relations is discussed in “Managing
Regulation in a New Era,” McKinsey Quarterly, December 2008,
4 “Big Coal to Fight Obama Plan,” The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2013,

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constraints, which can be costly or restrict innovation. But regulations can also help business, by
setting minimum standards that all firms must meet, building public confidence in the safety of
a product, creating a fair playing field for competition, or creating barriers to entry to maintain
a business’s competitive advantage. How a specific company reacts to a specific government
policy often depends on their assessment of whether they would be helped or hurt by that rule.

In short, the relationship between government and business can range from one of coop-
eration to one of conflict, with various stages in between. Moreover, this relationship is
constantly changing. A cooperative relationship on one issue does not guarantee coopera-
tion on another issue. The stability of a particular form of government in some countries
may be quite shaky, while in other countries the form of government is static but those in
power can change unexpectedly or government rulers can change on a regular basis. The
business–government relationship is one that requires managers to keep a careful eye
trained toward significant forces that might alter this relationship or to promote forces that
may encourage a positive business–government relationship.5

Legitimacy Issues
When dealing with a global economy, business may encounter governments whose author-
ity or right to be in power is questioned. Political leaders may illegally assume lawmaking
or legislative power, which can become economic power over business. Elections can be
rigged, or military force can be used to acquire governmental control.

Business managers may be challenged with the dilemma of doing business in such a
country where their business dealings would support this illegitimate power. Sometimes,
they may choose to become politically active, or refuse to do business in this country until
a legitimate government is installed.

Businesses can also influence the ability of a government leader or group of leaders to
maintain political power. For example, companies can decide to withdraw operations from
a country, as many U.S. firms did from South Africa in the 1970s to protest the practice
of apartheid (institutionalized racial segregation). Some believe that the economic isola-
tion of South Africa contributed to the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. Govern-
ments may also order companies not to conduct business in another country because of a
war, human rights violations, or lack of a legitimate government. These orders are called
economic sanctions. As of 2015, the United States had imposed economic sanctions on
Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and
Yemen because of political and human rights concerns.6

Government’s Public Policy Role

Government performs a vital and important role in modern society. Although vigorous
debates occur about the proper size of programs government should undertake, most peo-
ple agree that a society cannot function properly without some government activities. Cit-
izens look to government to meet important basic needs. Foremost among these are safety
and protection provided by homeland security, police, and fire departments. These are
collective or public goods, which are most efficiently provided by government for every-
one in a community. In today’s world, governments are also expected to provide economic
security and essential social services, and to deal with the most pressing social problems
that require collective action, or public policy.

Public policy is a plan of action undertaken by government officials to achieve some
broad purpose affecting a substantial segment of a nation’s citizens. Or as the late U.S.

5 See George Lodge, Comparative Business–Government Relations (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990).
6 See The Federal Registry, Department of the Treasury at

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Senator Patrick Moynihan said, “Public policy is what a government chooses to do or not
to do.” In general, these ideas are consistent. Public policy, while differing in each nation,
is the basic set of goals, plans, and actions that each national government follows in achiev-
ing its purposes. Governments generally do not choose to act unless a substantial segment
of the public is affected and some public purpose is to be achieved. This is the essence of
the concept of governments acting in the public interest.

The basic power to make public policy comes from a nation’s political system. In dem-
ocratic societies, citizens elect political leaders who can appoint others to fulfill defined
public functions ranging from municipal services (e.g., water supplies, fire protection) to
national services, such as public education or homeland security. Democratic nations typi-
cally spell out the powers of government in the country’s constitution.

Another source of authority is common law, or past decisions of the courts, the origi-
nal basis of the U.S. legal system. In nondemocratic societies, the power of government
may derive from a monarchy (e.g., Saudi Arabia), a military dictatorship (e.g., Eritrea or
Zimbabwe), or religious authority (e.g., the mullahs in Iran). These sources of power may
interact, creating a mixture of civilian and military authority. The political systems in Rus-
sia, Libya, Tunisia, and other nations have undergone profound changes in recent times.
And democratic nations can also face the pressures of regions that seek to become inde-
pendent nations exercising the powers of a sovereign state, as does Canada with Quebec.

Elements of Public Policy
The actions of government in any nation can be understood in terms of several basic ele-
ments of public policy. These are inputs, goals, tools, and effects. They will be illustrated
using the example of distracted driving.

Public policy inputs are external pressures that shape a government’s policy decisions and
strategies to address problems. Economic and foreign policy concerns, domestic political
pressure from constituents and interest groups, technical information, and media attention all
play a role in shaping national political decisions. For example, a growing recognition of the
dangers of distracted driving has pressured many state and local governments to ban or regu-
late the use of various electronic devices by drivers. Distracted driving may occur when a driv-
er’s attention is diverted by personal grooming tasks, adjusting music or navigation settings,
eating, reading, and assorted other activities. It has become an even greater threat to driver and
passenger safety as technological advances occur at a rapid pace. More and more drivers are
now able to make or receive calls, send text messages, and even browse the Internet—all while
driving a car at high speeds, in heavy traffic, or during bad weather conditions.7

According to an annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, more
than 3,000 people are killed and nearly a half million injured in distraction-related
crashes. A 2014 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that the risk of
a crash was 17 percent higher when the driver was distracted by using a cell phone.
Teens were particularly vulnerable. Nearly six out of 10 crashes involved teen drivers
who were distracted immediately before the accident. In a survey sponsored by Erie
Insurance, 30 percent all of drivers admitted to texting while driving and 75 percent
reported that they had seen someone else do it—causing researchers to believe that
the percentage of texting while driving was much higher than 30 percent. Fifteen per-
cent of drivers admitted they had engaged in “romantic encounters” while behind the
wheel and 9 percent said they had changed clothes while driving.8

7 “Windshield Devices Bring Distracted Driving Debate to Eye Level,” The New York Times, May 29, 2015,
8 “Study Asks Just How Distracted Are Motorists?” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 30, 2015, For
updated information on distracted driving, see and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website

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The harms associated with distracted driving are alarming. A spokesperson for a major
auto insurance company explained, “Distracted driving is becoming a national epidemic
and it has to be controlled.”9

Government bodies—legislatures, town councils, regulatory agencies—need to con-
sider all relevant inputs in deciding whether or not to take action, and if so, what kind of

Public policy goals can be broad (e.g., full employment) and high-minded (equal oppor-
tunity for all) or narrow and self-serving. National values, such as freedom, democracy,
and a fair chance for all citizens to share in economic prosperity, have led to the adoption
of civil rights laws and economic assistance programs for those in need. Narrow goals
that serve special interests are more apparent when nations decide how tax legislation will
allocate the burden of taxes among various interests and income groups, or when public
resources, such as oil exploration rights or timber cutting privileges, are given to one group
or another. Whether the goals are broad or narrow, for the benefit of some or the benefit
of all, most governments should ask, “What public goals are being served by this action?”
For example, the rationale for a government policy to regulate distracted driving has to be
based on some definition of public interest, such as preventing harm to others, including
innocent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The goal of distracted driving regulation is to prevent deaths and serious injuries
resulting from drivers being distracted while driving. However, some members of
the public have insisted on their right to use their phones for texting and other activ-
ities in their vehicles. Traveling salespersons, for example, depend on their phones
as an important tool of the job. Some regulations have addressed this by permitting
drivers to use hands-free devices that permit them to keep their hands on the wheel.
But some government safety experts have disagreed, saying, “When you are on
a call, even if both hands are on the wheel, your head is in the call, and not your

The issue of banning the use of cell phones, hand-held or hands-free, for the sake of
making our roads a little safer for all, remains at the forefront, but new technology has
created even greater distractions. Devices can project information and data streamed from
a smartphone onto the car’s windshield. Maps, speed, incoming texts, caller identifica-
tion, and even social media notifications can be projected just above the dashboard of a
car for the driver to read. So, the goals of saving lives, reducing injuries, and eliminating
health care costs are increasingly more urgent and the demand for regulation even more

Governments use different public policy tools to achieve policy goals. The tools of pub-
lic policy involve combinations of incentives and penalties that government uses to prompt
citizens, including businesses, to act in ways that achieve policy goals. Governmental reg-
ulatory powers are broad and constitute one of the most formidable instruments for accom-
plishing public purposes.

Federal action limiting cell phone use in the United States stalled, so state and
local governments stepped in to ban the use of cell phones by drivers while oper-
ating their vehicles. By 2015 14 states had completely banned the use of cell
phones while driving without a hands-free device, 37 had banned cell phone use
by novice drivers, and 20 had banned school bus drivers from using their cell
phones. Forty-six states banned text messaging for all drivers. And this is not just

9 “Texting While Driving Dangerous, Study Confirms: How Dangerous?” CBS News – Health Pop, October 6, 2011, www

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a public policy issue for Americans. More than 45 nations, including Australia,
China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, and the United
Kingdom, ban calling while driving.10

Public policy effects are the outcomes arising from government regulation. Some
are intended; others are unintended. Because public policies affect many people, orga-
nizations, and other interests, it is almost inevitable that such actions will please some
and displease others. Regulations may cause businesses to improve the way toxic sub-
stances are used in the workplace, thus reducing health risks to employees. Yet other
goals may be obstructed as an unintended effect of compliance with such regulations.
For example, when health risks to pregnant women were associated with exposure to
lead in the workplace, some companies removed women from those jobs. This action
was seen as a form of discrimination against women that conflicted with the goal of
equal employment opportunity. The unintended effect (discrimination) of one policy
action (protecting employees) conflicted head-on with the public policy goal of equal

Different groups disagreed over the possible effects of distracted driving laws.
Proponents obviously argued that the ban on cell phone use reduced accidents and
saved lives. In fact, from 2012 to 2013, the number of deaths attributed to distracted
driving nationwide declined nearly 7 percent, possibly due to the bans enacted
by many states. Opponents pointed to numerous other distractions that were not
banned, such as drivers reading the newspaper, eating, putting on makeup, or shav-
ing. “People have been driving distracted since cars were invented. Focusing on
mobile phones isn’t the same as focusing on distracted driving. Distraction is what
has always caused car crashes and mobile phones don’t appear to be adding to that,”
said a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.11

As the distracted driving examples illustrate, managers must try to be aware of the
public policy inputs, goals, tools, and effects relevant to regulation affecting their business.

Types of Public Policy
Public policies created by governments are of two major types: economic and social.
Sometimes these types of regulation are distinct from each another and at other times they
are intertwined.

Economic Policies

One important kind of public policy directly concerns the economy. The term fiscal policy
refers to patterns of government collecting and spending funds that are intended to stimu-
late or support the economy. Governments spend money on many different activities. Local
governments employ teachers, trash collectors, police, and firefighters. State governments
typically spend large amounts of money on roads, social services, and parkland. National
governments spend large sums on military defense, international relationships, and hun-
dreds of public works projects such as road building. During the Great Depression of the
1930s, public works projects employed large numbers of people, put money in their hands,

10 For a complete listing of states that have regulated cell phone use while driving see the Governor’s Highway Safety Asso-
ciation at
11 Statistical information from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association website at; and “Study: No Evidence
Cell Phone Bans Reduce Crashes,” Fox News, July 7, 2011,

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and stimulated consumption of goods and services. Today, fiscal policy remains a basic
tool to achieve prosperity, as the following example illustrates.

In 2015, Chinese government leaders and economists were surprised by the coun-
try’s sharp economic decline and were increasingly worried about the potential risk
of job losses throughout the country. The world’s second largest economy grew at
7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, the lowest rate since the global financial crisis
in 2008–9. The leaders turned to fiscal stimulus to revive the growth of the country.
The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top planning agency,
infused large amounts of funding in an attempt to speed up investment projects in
several key sectors, including water conservation, environmental protection, power
grids, and health care. A chief economist explained, “It’s hard to boost consumption
while external demand is weak, so the only thing they can do is boost

By contrast, the term monetary policy refers to policies that affect the supply, demand,
and value of a nation’s currency. The worth, or worthlessness, of a nation’s currency has
serious effects on business and society. It affects the buying power of money, the stabil-
ity and value of savings, and the confidence of citizens and investors about the nation’s
future. This, in turn, affects the country’s ability to borrow money from other nations and
to attract private capital. In the United States, the Federal Reserve Bank—known as the
Fed—plays the role of other nations’ central banks. By raising and lowering the interest
rates at which private banks borrow money from the government, the Fed influences the
size of the nation’s money supply and the value of the dollar. During the Great Recession,
the Fed’s action to lower interest rates nearly to zero—an example of a monetary policy—
was intended to stimulate borrowing and help the economy get moving again.

Other forms of economic policy include taxation policy (raising or lowering taxes on
business or individuals), industrial policy (directing economic resources toward the devel-
opment of specific industries), and trade policy (encouraging or discouraging trade with
other countries).

Social Assistance Policies

The last century produced many advances in the well-being of people across the globe.
The advanced industrial nations have developed elaborate systems of social services for
their citizens. Developing economies have improved key areas of social assistance (such as
health care and education) and will continue to do so as their economies grow. International
standards and best practices have supported these trends. Many of the social assistance
policies that affect particular stakeholders are discussed in subsequent chapters of this book.

One area often addressed by social assistance policies is housing. Many govern-
ments have programs that subsidize rent payments, guarantee home loans, or pro-
vide housing directly for low-income citizens or military veterans. For example,
Brazil’s Minha Casa, Minha Vida (“My House, My Life”) program has built one
million homes since 2009 for low-income families. Mortgages are provided by a
government-affiliated bank and more than $1 trillion in investments had been chan-
neled into this program by 2014. Many of the first units built by the program were
intended to house families displaced by development for the World Cup and Olym-
pic Games in Rio de Janeiro.13

12 “China Looks to Fiscal Stimulus to Fight Slowdown,” Business Times, May 7, 2015,
13 For more information on this program see

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One particularly important social assistance policy—health care—has been the focus
for concern on the international front and for national and state lawmakers. As discussed
later in this chapter, the United States government has wrestled with the need for better
health care for its citizens and the challenge of how to pay for this care.

Government Regulation of Business

Societies rely on government to establish rules of conduct for citizens and organiza-
tions called regulations. Regulation is a primary way of accomplishing public policy,
as described in the previous section. Because government operates at so many levels
(federal, state, local), modern businesses face complex webs of regulations. Companies
often require lawyers, public affairs specialists, and experts to monitor and manage the
interaction with government. Why do societies turn to more regulation as a way to solve
problems? Why not just let the free market allocate resources, set prices, and constrain
socially irresponsible behavior by companies? There are a variety of reasons.

Market Failure
One reason is what economists call market failure, that is, the marketplace fails to adjust
prices for the true costs of a firm’s behavior. For example, a company normally has no
incentive to spend money on pollution control equipment if customers do not demand it.
The market fails to incorporate the cost of environmental harm into the business’s eco-
nomic equation, because the costs are borne by someone else. In this situation, government
can use regulation to force all competitors in the industry to adopt a minimum antipollution
standard. The companies will then incorporate the extra cost of compliance into the prod-
uct price. Companies that want to act responsibly often welcome carefully crafted regula-
tions, because they force competitors to bear the same costs.

The issue of global warming, caused in part by greenhouse gas emissions, is such
a big issue that no single firm or industry can afford to take the first step and try
to control it in order to minimize the harm to our planet and environment. World
leaders have met periodically since 1995—most recently in 2015—under the aus-
pices of the United Nations to negotiate and update a convention (treaty) to limit
countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. Many hope that this international agreement
will create a path for businesses to follow to improve the health of our planet.
While people may disagree on how to accomplish this important goal (as the earlier
example of the coal industry’s opposition to regulation illustrates), the challenge is
beyond what the marketplace can tackle and it requires some form of government
intervention by many countries.

Negative Externalities
Governments also may act to regulate business to prevent unintended adverse effects on
others. Negative externalities, or spillover effects, result when the manufacture or distri-
bution of a product gives rise to unplanned or unintended costs (economic, physical, or
psychological) borne by workers, consumers, competitors, neighboring communities, or
other business stakeholders. To control or reverse these costs, government may step in to
regulate business action.

In 2014 U.S. government regulators announced new rules to fight an increase in
black lung disease, caused by breathing coal dust. These new regulations were the
first major efforts since the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, which

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established modern health and safety requirements in mines nationwide. Govern-
ment health officials attributed increasing rates of the disease to new machinery
that generated more dust, longer shifts for younger workers, and an increase in sil-
ica dust churned up when thinner coal seams were tapped after many years of min-
ing at the same location.14

Natural Monopolies
In some industries, natural monopolies occur. The electric utility industry provides an
example. Once one company has built a system of poles and wires or laid miles of under-
ground cable to supply local customers with electricity, it would be inefficient for a sec-
ond company to build another system alongside the first. But once the first company has
established its natural monopoly, it can then raise prices as much as it wishes because there
is no competition. In such a situation, government often comes in and regulates prices
and access. Other industries that sometimes develop natural monopolies include cable TV,
broadband Internet service, software, and railroads.

Ethical Arguments
There is often an ethical rationale for regulation as well. As discussed in Chapter 5, for
example, there is a utilitarian ethical argument in support of safe working conditions: It
is costly to train and educate employees only to lose their services because of prevent-
able accidents. There are also fairness and justice arguments for government to set stan-
dards and develop regulations to protect employees, consumers, and other stakeholders.
In debates about regulation, advocates for and against regulatory proposals often use both
economic and ethical arguments to support their views. Sometimes firms will agree to
self-regulate their actions to head off more costly government-imposed regulatory reform,
as shown in the following example.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided to launch
an investigation after two Tesla Motors cars hit debris on the road, leading to a
battery fire in 2013. The first incident occurred when the car struck a metal object
on the highway; the second one, when the car hit a tow hitch lying on the road.
Immediately after the NHTSA’s announcement, Tesla Motors announced that it
was conducting its own investigation and would implement certain safety measures
aimed at creating more ground clearance in their cars and would extend its warranty
policy to cover vehicles damaged by fire.15

Whether the actions are self-imposed by a company or forced on businesses by the gov-
ernment, the protection of the public is often the motivation for regulatory action.

Types of Regulation
Government regulations come in different forms. Some are directly imposed; others are
more indirect. Some are aimed at a specific industry (e.g., banking); others, such as those
dealing with job discrimination or pollution, apply to all industries. Some have been in
existence for a long time—for example, the Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906—
whereas others, such as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection (or Dodd-Frank)
Act of 2010, are of much more recent vintage. Just as public policy can be classified as
either economic or social, so regulations can be classified in the same fashion.

14 “Black Lung Disease Spurs New Coal-Mine Rules,” The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014,
15 “U.S. Safety Agency Opens Inquiry into Tesla Fires,” The New York Times, November 19, 2013,

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Economic Regulations

The oldest form of regulation is primarily economic in nature. Economic regulations aim to
modify the normal operation of the free market and the forces of supply and demand. Such
modification may come about because the free market is distorted by the size or monopoly
power of companies, or because the consequences of actions in the marketplace are thought
to be undesirable. Economic regulations include those that control prices or wages, allocate
public resources, establish service territories, set the number of participants, and ration
resources. The decisions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent anticom-
petitive business practices illustrate one kind of economic regulation. The U.S. Congress
responded to the global recession, in part, by passing the Dodd-Frank Act, as discussed next.

The passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011, heralded as the most comprehensive
financial regulatory reform measure since the Great Depression, revolutionized
many business activities. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act affected the
oversight and supervision of financial institutions, provided for a new resolution
procedure for large financial companies, created a new agency responsible for
implementing and enforcing compliance with consumer financial laws, introduced
more stringent regulatory capital requirements, effected significant changes in the
regulation of over-the-counter derivatives, reformed the regulation of credit rating
agencies, implemented changes to corporate governance and executive compensa-
tion practices, required registration of advisers to certain private funds, and effected
significant changes in the securities markets.16

Yet, some businesses generally resisted many of the changes intended by the Dodd-
Frank Act and fought back, as discussed in Exhibit 7.A. These efforts caused many to won-
der if the Dodd-Frank Act had failed or was much weaker than lawmakers had intended.

Antitrust: A Special Kind of Economic Regulation

One important kind of economic regulation occurs when government acts to preserve com-
petition in the marketplace, thereby protecting consumers. Antitrust laws prohibit unfair, anti-
competitive practices by business. (The term antitrust law is used in the United States; most
other countries use the term competition law.) For example, if a group of companies agreed
among themselves to set prices at a particular level, this would generally be an antitrust viola-
tion. In addition, a firm may not engage in predatory pricing, the practice of selling below cost
to drive rivals out of business. If a company uses its market dominance to restrain commerce,
compete unfairly, or hurt consumers, then it may be found guilty of violating antitrust laws.

For example, in 2015 a federal appeals court upheld a decision that found Apple lia-
ble for conspiring with book publishers to raise the price of e-books. The conspir-
acy, concluded the judge, had unreasonably restrained trade in violation of federal
antitrust law. Apple’s actions were in response to Amazon’s aggressive discounts
for e-books and its growing command of the e-book market. Apple entered into an
industrywide agreement with five major book publishers to switch to a different
pricing model that allowed the publishers rather than retailers to set e-book prices
and e-book price began to rise. After the court decision, Apple was expected to
have to pay $450 million, mostly to e-book consumers.17

16 “The Dodd-Frank Act: A Cheat Sheet,” Morrison & Foerster, n.d., Also see Kelly Richmond Pope and Chin-
Chen Lee, “Could the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 be Helpful in Reforming Corpo-
rate America? Journal of Business Ethics, February 2014, pp. 597–607.
17 “Apple Loses Federal Appeal in E-Books Case,” The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2015,

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The two main antitrust enforcement agencies are the Antitrust Division of the U.S.
Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Both agencies may bring suits
against companies they believe to be guilty of violating antitrust laws. They also may
investigate possible violations, issue guidelines and advisory opinions for firms planning
mergers or acquisitions, identify specific practices considered to be illegal, and negoti-
ate informal settlements out of court. Antitrust regulators have been active in prosecuting
price fixing, blocking anticompetitive mergers, and dealing with foreign companies that
have violated U.S. laws on fair competition. In Europe, the European Commission enforces
antitrust regulation, as seen in the Microsoft example that follows.

In 2013 Microsoft was fined Ꞓ561 million ($732.2 million) by the European Com-
mission (EC) after it broke its voluntary promise to offer more than 15 million
Windows users a choice of rival web browsers. The fine was the latest altercation
between the EC and Microsoft. A decade earlier, the EC fined Microsoft Ꞓ1.6 billion
($2.08 billion) for failing to provide rivals with information at fair prices and for tying
its media player to its operating system. According to EC’s competition chief, “such a
breach is of course very serious, irrespective of whether it was intentional or not and
it calls for sanctions. I hope this decision makes companies think twice before they
ever think of internationally breaching their obligations or even neglecting their duty
to ensure strict compliance.”18

If a company is found guilty of antitrust violations, what are the penalties? The govern-
ment may levy a fine—sometimes a large one, as the EC did against Microsoft. In another
example, Berkshire Hathaway agreed to pay $896,000 to settle U.S. allegations that the

18 “EU Fines Microsoft $732 Million,” The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2013,

Business Pushes Back on the Dodd-Frank Act

Three years after the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, only 40 percent of the regulations had been written.
President Obama, an advocate of the act, wanted to know why, so he called in those responsible for writing
the act’s regulations. Nine different agencies were summoned, reflecting one of the major problems with the
act—too many agencies were involved. The U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comp-
troller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit
Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission all had oversight of parts of the law.
In addition, businesses launched a political attack targeting these agencies and Congress. By 2012, more
than 3000 lobbyists swarmed Capitol Hill, nearly six for every member of Congress, to influence or delay
the full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act. The financial services industry spent more than $1 billion targeting the
weakening of the Dodd-Frank Act. As one consumer advocate pointed out, “The lobbyists are just the point of
the spear. There are also the regulatory lawyers, the research staffs, the public relations people and all those
loyal think tank supporters shilling for the banks.”
From 2013 to 2015, Congress voted to roll back major elements of the Dodd-Frank Act, such as repealing
the requirement that big banks “push out” some derivatives trading into separate units that are not backed
by the government’s insurance funds, delaying by two years the mandate that financial firms sell off bundled
debt, exempting some private equity firms from registering with the SEC, and allowing some small, publicly
traded companies to omit historical financial data from their financial filings.

Sources: “The Red Tape That’s Choking Financial Reform,” Bloomberg Businessweek, August 26–September 1, 2013, p. 14;
“How Wall Street Defanged Dodd-Frank,” The Nation, April 30, 2013,; “House Votes to Repeal Dodd-Frank
Provision,” The New York Times, October 30, 2013,; and, “House Passes Measure to Ease Some Dodd-
Frank Rules,” The New York Times, January 14, 2015,

Exhibit 7.A

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firm violated antitrust laws by failing to report the acquisition of an equity stake in USG
Corporation, a gypsum wallboard-maker based in Chicago. “We made a mistake when we
overlooked the filing requirement,” explained Berkshire’s chief executive, Warren
Buffet.19 In the case of private lawsuits, companies may also be required to pay damages to
firms or individuals they have harmed. In addition, regulators may impose other, nonmon-
etary remedies. A structural remedy may require the breakup of a monopolistic firm; this
occurred when AT&T was broken up by government order in 1984. A conduct remedy,
more commonly used, involves an agreement that the offending firm will change its con-
duct, often under government supervision. For example, a company might agree to stop
certain anticompetitive practices. Finally, an intellectual property remedy is used in some
kinds of high-technology businesses; it involves disclosure of information to competitors.
All these are part of the regulator’s arsenal.

Antitrust regulations cut across industry lines and apply generally to all enterprises.
Other economic regulations, such as those governing stock exchanges, may be confined to
specific industries and companies.

Social Regulations

Social regulations are aimed at such important social goals as protecting consumers and
the environment and providing workers with safe and healthy working conditions. Equal
employment opportunity, protection of pension benefits, and health care for citizens are other
important areas of social regulation. Unlike the economic regulations mentioned above,
social regulations are not limited to one type of business or industry. Laws concerning pollu-
tion, safety and health, health care, and job discrimination apply to all businesses; consumer
protection laws apply to all relevant businesses producing and selling consumer goods.

An example of a social regulation is federal rules for automobile and truck emis-
sions and mileage standards. Beginning in 2011, the federal government rolled out
new standards to be applied to automobiles made between 2011 and 2025. By 2025,
all new cars and trucks sold in the United States must have a performance equiv-
alency of 54.5 miles per gallon while reducing greenhouse emission gases to 163
grams per mile. These new requirements could save families an estimated $8,200
in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicle, relative to a 2010 standard. In 2015,
new standards were proposed to improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution
for trucks. The new standards were expected to lower CO2 emissions by approx-
imately 1 billion metric tons, cut fuel costs by about $170 billion, and reduce oil
consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicle. In addition
to cost-savings and environmental benefits, this social regulation also would help
the country achieve its goal of less dependence on foreign oil.20

The most significant social regulation in the United States since the 1960s was the
comprehensive reform of health care coverage passed by Congress in 2009. It is described
in Exhibit 7.B.

Who regulates? Normally, for both economic and social regulation, specific rules are
set by agencies of government and by the executive branch, and may be further inter-
preted by the courts. Many kinds of business behavior are also regulated at the state level.

19 “Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway to Pay $896,000 Civil Penalty on Antitrust Issue,” The Wall Street Journal, August 20,
20 “President Obama Announced New Fuel Economy Standards,” The White House Blog, July 29, 2011,
blog; and, “EPA and DOT Propose Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-duty Trucks,” National Highway
and Traffic Safety Administration, June 19, 2015,

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The Affordable Care Act: Health Care Coverage
Mandated for Americans

In 2010, led by President Obama, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare.”
The basic purpose of the law was to hold insurance companies accountable for their costs and services to
their customers, lower the rising health care costs, provide Americans with greater freedom and control over
their health care choices, and ultimately improve the quality of health care in America. Its provisions would
be rolled out over 10 years. In 2010, the government began giving subsidies to small businesses that offered
health coverage to employees, insurance companies were barred from denying coverage to children with
preexisting illnesses, and children were permitted to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
The health care reform law aroused strong passions on both sides. Proponents of the law argued that the
more than 5.1 million people on Medicare would save over $3 billion in prescription drugs costs, 105  million
Americans would no longer have lifetime dollar limits on their health care coverage, and approximately
54 million Americans would receive greater preventative medical coverage. Health care fraud would decline
by $4.1 billion annually due to new fraud detection measures, and 2.5 million young adults would retain
health care coverage under their parents’ plan. Most importantly, most Americans would now have health
insurance coverage.
But, opponents challenged the new law as filled with myths, untruths, and harmful consequences. Some
believed that the act would do nothing to bring down the cost of health care. Business leaders worried that
the burden of providing their employees with health care insurance would result in bankruptcy or cause
employers to reduce the level of health care coverage for their employees. Many worried that the mandate
infringed on individual rights—including the right to go without health insurance if they chose. Several states
sued, saying the law violated the constitution.
By 2015, nearly 11.7 million Americans had selected marketplace plans or been automatically enrolled under
the act. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia had expanded their Medicaid coverage, with more than
10 million more Americans enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Under the act, mil-
lions more Americans received preventive services, such as vaccines, cancer screenings, and annual wellness
visits at no out-of-pocket cost, than ever before. In addition, Americans could no longer be denied or dropped
from coverage because of pre-existing conditions or because they hit an annual or lifetime cap in benefits.

Sources: “What’s in the Bill,” The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2010,; “Get the Facts Straight on Health
Reform—A More Secure Future,” The White House, n.d.,; and “The Affordable Care Act Is Working,”
Department of Health and Human Services,

Exhibit 7.B

Government regulators and the courts have the challenging job of applying the broad man-
dates of public policy.

Figure  7.1 depicts these two types of regulation—economic and social—along with
the major regulatory agencies responsible for enforcing the rules at the federal level in the
United States. Only the most prominent federal agencies are included in the chart. Individ-
ual states, some cities, and other national governments have their own array of agencies
to implement regulatory policy. There is a legitimate need for government regulation in
modern economies, but regulation also has problems. Businesses feel these problems first-
hand, often because the regulations directly affect the cost of products and the freedom
of managers to design their business operations. In the modern economy, the costs and
effectiveness of regulation, as well as its unintended consequences, are serious issues that
cannot be overlooked. Each is discussed below.

The Effects of Regulation
Regulation affects many societal stakeholders, including business. Sometimes the conse-
quences are known and intended, but at other times unintended or accidental consequences
emerge from regulatory actions. In general, government hopes that the benefits arising
from regulation outweigh the costs.

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FIGURE 7.1 Types of Regulation and Regulatory Agencies

Economic regulatory agencies

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Federal Reserve Board
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
Department of Transportation

Social regulatory agencies

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Federal Trade Commission
Department of Health and Human Services


Consumer Product Safety Commission
Food and Drug Administration
Environmental Protection Agency
National Highway Tra�c Safety Administration
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Radio, TV,




























and health








safety and
















s SE

, C





















Economic regulation



Federal Trade Commission
Securities and Exchange Commission
National Labor Relations Board
Internal Revenue Service
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Department of Energy
National Transportation Safety Board

Social regulation

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The Costs and Benefits of Regulation

The call for regulation may seem irresistible to government leaders and officials given the
benefits they seek, but there are always costs to regulation. An old economic adage says,
“There is no free lunch.” Eventually, someone has to pay for the benefits created.

An industrial society such as the United States can afford almost anything, including
social regulations, if it is willing to pay the price. Sometimes the benefits are worth the
costs; sometimes the costs exceed the benefits. The test of cost–benefit analysis helps the
public understand what is at stake when new regulation is sought.

Figure  7.2 illustrates the increase in costs of federal regulation in the United States
since 1960. Economic regulation has existed for many decades, and its cost has grown
more slowly than that of social regulation. Social regulation spending reflects growth in
such areas as environmental health, occupational safety, and consumer protection. A rapid
growth of social regulation spending occurred in the 1960s and again in the 2000s, but has
slowed somewhat recently. The cost of regulation has its critics, especially when the costs
to small businesses or manufacturing firms are considered.

Economists Nicole Crain and Mark Crain reported that complying with federal reg-
ulations cost U.S. businesses more than $2 trillion each year. Compliance costs
were highest for regulations focusing on the environment and worker safety and fell
disproportionately on manufacturers and small businesses. The average manufactur-
ing company paid compliance costs of nearly $20,000 per employee annually,
nearly double the average cost paid by all U.S. businesses. “There’s no question it’s
harming our country’s economic growth,” said the National Association for Manu-
facturers’ president. “This is hidden tax. It’s a cost to the economy.”21

But other economists pointed out that the Crain study, commissioned by the National
Association of Manufactures, was flawed since it relied on the opinions of business execu-
tives who had a vested interest in overestimating regulatory costs. They also argued that
the researchers failed to measure the benefits that regulations provided the country. Some

21 “New Study Places $2T Yearly Price Tag on Federal Regulation,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 11, 2014,

Spending on U.S.
Regulatory Activities

Source: Susan Dudley and Melinda
Warren, “Regulators’ Budget
Increases Consistent with Growth in
Fiscal Budget,” Regulatory Studies
Center, The George Washington
University and Weidenbaum Center,
Washington University in Saint
Louis, May 2015, regulatorystudies.







1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015



t (

) 2







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felt that the high cost of regulation on business was worth it since the stakes were so high.
Controlling environmental pollution and protecting worker and consumer safety, for exam-
ple, benefits many citizens. How do the costs and benefits of regulation compare? The
federal government’s Office of Budget and Management reported that the annual benefits
of major federal regulations from 2003 to 2013 ranged somewhere from $217 billion to
$863 billion, while the estimated annual costs ranged from $57 billion to $84 billion.
Although different methodologies produced different estimates, in all scenarios the bene-
fits exceeded the costs.22

In addition to paying for regulatory programs, it takes people to administer, monitor, and
enforce these regulations. Researchers at two academic research centers have documented
staffing regulatory activities in the United States since 1960, as shown in Figure 7.3. In
1960, fewer than 60,000 federal employees monitored and enforced government regu-
lations. Two decades later, in 1980, staffing at federal regulatory agencies had risen to
more than 146,000 employees. In the early 1980s, President Reagan led a campaign to cut
government regulation. This campaign continued during both of the Bush presidencies
and the number of full-time federal employees dedicated to regulatory activities modestly
increased through 2000. As noted earlier, with the return to regulatory control and the
addition of new funding and new agencies, the number of government employees at regu-
latory agencies increased to more than 277,000 employees by 2015.

The United States has experimented with different forms of government regulation
for more than 200 years, and experts have learned that not all government programs are
effective in meeting their intended goals. With new regulations being added each year,
redundancy is likely to occur. In 2011, President Obama ordered a massive investigation
of overlapping and duplicative regulatory programs. He noted that there were 15 different
agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to help the home-
less, and 80 programs for economic development. Senator Tom Coburn, who strongly
supported this investigation, estimated that between $100 and $200 billion in duplicative

22 “2014 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations,” OIRA Report to Congress, Office of Bud-
get and Management, 2014,

Staffing of U.S.
Regulatory Activities

Source: Dudley and Warren,












1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015



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spending would be uncovered. In only 2 years, regulatory agencies proposed the following
cost-savings changes:

∙ The Department of Health and Human Services finalized new rules to promote tele-
medicine to help hospitals and patients in rural areas, saving around $65 million over
the next 5 years.

∙ The Department of Labor coordinated its hazards warning requirements with those of
other nations, increasing safety and saving employers over $1.5 billion over the next
5 years.

∙ The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new rule that removed
over 1.9 million annual hours of redundant reporting burdens on employers, saving
more than $40 million in annual costs.

∙ The Department of Agriculture modernized and streamlined poultry inspections rules,
saving the private sector over $1 billion over the next 5 years while increasing safety in
the process.

∙ The Federal Communications Commission eliminated over 190 redundant regulations.23

Continuous Regulatory Reform

The amount of regulatory activity often is cyclical—historically rising during some peri-
ods and declining during others. Businesses in the United States experienced a lessening
of regulation in the early 2000s—deregulation—only to observe the return of regulatory
activity in the late 2000s and early 2010s reregulation.

Deregulation is the removal or scaling down of regulatory authority and regulatory
activities of government. Deregulation is often a politically popular idea. President Ronald
Reagan strongly advocated deregulation in the early 1980s, when he campaigned on the
promise to “get government off the back of the people.” Major deregulatory laws were
enacted beginning in 1975 when Gerald Ford was president and continued through the
administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, and returned
during George W. Bush’s administration. During these presidential administrations dereg-
ulation occurred in the commercial airlines, interstate trucking, railroads, and financial
institutions industries. Some argued that when the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act was repealed
in 1999 by the passage of the Financial Modernization Act, the lack of regulatory controls
over the banking and securities industries led to the serious financial problems causing the
economic recession in the late 2000s.

Deregulation has also occurred in Europe, especially in the arena of social regulation.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) governing
various employee safety and health issues was downgraded to a “Guidance,” a weaker
form of regulatory control. In 2015, the U.K. passed the Deregulation Act that relaxed
decades of increased regulatory control governing housing accommodations, motor vehi-
cle insurance coverage, energy efficiency, and urban development, with the intention of
less governmental influence in the lives of citizens.24

Proponents of deregulation often challenge the public’s desire to see government solve
problems. This generates situations in which government is trying to deregulate in some
areas while at the same time creating new regulation in others. Reregulation is the increase
or expansion of government regulation, especially in areas where the regulatory activities

23 “Regulatory Reform Progress,” January 30, 2012, For an interesting ethical analysis of this regula-
tory investigation, see “The Obama Administration’s Regulatory Review Initiative: A 21st Century Federal Regulatory Initia-
tive?” Thomas Hemphill, Business and Society Review, Summer 2012, pp. 185–95.
24 “Deregulation Act 2015,” Planning Resource, April 13, 2015,

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had previously been reduced. The scandals that rocked corporate America in the 2000s—
and the failure or near-failure of a number of big commercial and investment banks in the
late 2000s—brought cries from many stakeholder groups for reregulation of the securities
and financial services industries. As a result, the United States has seen much reregulation
in the 2010s with the passage of laws and rules governing the financial services and health
care industries, as discussed earlier. As in the United States, many governments around the
world reasserted their regulatory authority over the banking industry in the aftermath of
the global recession. The economic think tank McKinsey & Company described the world-
wide return to regulation, or reregulation, in these words:

Since the financial crisis of 2008, governments have assumed a dramatically
expanded role in financial markets. Policy makers have gone to great lengths to sta-
bilize them, to support individual companies whose failure might pose systemic
risks, and to prevent a deep economic downturn. . . . In short, governments will
have their hand in industry to an extent few imagined possible only recently.25

Regulation in a Global Context

International commerce unites people and businesses in new and complicated ways, as
described in Chapter 4. U.S. consumers routinely buy food, automobiles, and clothing
from companies located in Europe, Canada, Latin America, Australia, Africa, and Asia.
Citizens of other nations do the same. As these patterns of international commerce grow
more complicated, governments recognize the need to establish rules that protect the inter-
ests of their own citizens. No nation wants to accept dangerous products manufactured
elsewhere that will injure its citizens, and no government wants to see its economy dam-
aged by unfair competition from foreign competitors. These concerns provide the rationale
for international regulatory agreements and cooperation.

In cases where businesses operate in multiple countries, regulations imposed in one
jurisdiction can affect companies operating out of others. But imposing regulatory controls
on businesses from other countries can be difficult.

For example, in 2012, the European Union imposed a carbon emissions fee on all
airlines flying in and out of EU airspace in an effort to limit greenhouse gas emis-
sions, a serious environmental problem discussed in Chapter 9. Within one month
after the new rule went into effect, more than two dozen countries expressed their
opposition to the EU’s carbon emissions fee. The Chinese Air Transport Association,
which includes China’s four largest airlines, issued a prohibition on its airline mem-
bers from paying the EU emissions fee. A few months later, India joined the group of
nations protesting the fee, which had grown to 26 nation members, including airlines
from the United States, Russia, and Japan. Despite these objections, the EU reported
that “more than 99 percent of all major global airlines have complied with the first
step” of Europe’s carbon emission fee. But, six months later, the EU announced it
was putting the fee “on hold” to allow the United Nations’ International Civil
Aviation Organization time to reach a global agreement on aviation emissions.26

25 “Leading through Uncertainty,” McKinsey Quarterly, December 2008,
26 “China Bans Its Airlines from Paying EU Emissions Fee,” The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2012,; “EU
Hails Airline Emission Tax Success,” The Guardian, May 15, 2012,; and “EU Halts Carbon Emission
Fees for Airlines,” The Hill, November 12, 2012,

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At other times, the issues themselves cut across national borders, so international regu-
lation is needed. Sometimes, nations negotiate agreements directly with one another, and
at other times they do so under the auspices of the United Nations or regional alliances.
For example, the United Nations monitors international uses of nuclear power due to the
great potential for harm to those living near nuclear power plants and based on the threat of
converting this technology into nuclear weapons.

In 2012, the United Nations was called to Iran to investigate and determine if this
country was developing enriched uranium that could be used for nuclear weaponry.
Some enriched uranium was discovered, but it was unclear if Iran was developing
nuclear weapons. Three years later, the world’s major economic powers—the
United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China—reached
an accord with Iran that would require Iran to dismantle its nuclear program in
exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions by the United Nations and the
major economic powers.27

Whether at the local, state, federal or international levels, governments exert their con-
trol seeking to protect society through regulation. The significant challenge involves bal-
ancing the costs of this form of governance against the benefits received or the prevention
of the harms that might occur if the regulation is not in place and enforced. Businesses
have long understood that managing and, if possible, cooperating with the government
regarding regulation generally leads to a more productive economic environment and
financial health of the firm.

27“Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal,” The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015,

∙ Government’s relationship with business ranges from collaborative to working at arm’s
length. This relationship often is tenuous, and managers must be vigilant to anticipate
any change that may affect business and its operations.

∙ A public policy is an action undertaken by government to achieve a broad public
purpose. The public policy process involves inputs, goals, tools or instruments, and

∙ Regulation is needed to correct for market failure, overcome natural monopoly, and
protect stakeholders who might otherwise be hurt by the unrestricted actions of

∙ Regulation can take the form of laws affecting an organization’s economic operations
(e.g., trade and labor practices, allocation of scarce resources, price controls) or focus
on social good (e.g., consumer protection, employee health and safety, environmental

∙ Antitrust laws seek to preserve competition in the marketplace, thereby protecting con-
sumers. Remedies may involve imposing a fine, breaking up a firm, changing the firm’s
conduct, or requiring the disclosure of information to competitors.

∙ Although regulations are often very costly, many believe that these costs are worth the
benefits they bring. The ongoing debate over the need for and effectiveness of regula-
tion leads to alternating periods of deregulation and reregulation.

∙ The global regulation of business often occurs when commerce crosses national borders
or the consequences of unregulated business activity by a national government are so
large that global regulation is necessary.


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Key Terms regulation, 142
reregulation, 151
social assistance policies,
social regulation, 146

antitrust laws, 144
cost–benefit analysis, 149
deregulation, 151
Dodd-Frank Act, 144
economic regulation, 144
fiscal policy, 140

market failure, 142
monetary policy, 141
natural monopoly, 143
negative externalities, 142
predatory pricing, 144
public policy, 137

Resources Cato Institute U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Economy Watch Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System U.S. Federal Trade Commission Mercatus Center, George Mason University National Center for Policy Analysis U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs International Law, United Nations Government Made Easy

Discussion Case: Should E-Cigarettes Be Regulated?

The tobacco industry and government regulators worldwide spent decades battling over
whether tobacco cigarettes should be regulated. By the mid-2010s, almost all governments
had passed legislation to control the ingredients in cigarettes, how this product could be
advertised, and limited their sale to individuals of a certain age, typically 18 years and
older. But a new, related issue was just emerging: whether or not governments should reg-
ulate e-cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are products designed to deliver nicotine or other
substances to a user in the form of a vapor. Typically, they are composed of a recharge-
able, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge that may contain nicotine or
other chemicals, and an atomizer that, when heated, converts the contents of the cartridge
into a vapor. This vapor can then be inhaled by the user. These products are often made to
look like cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. They are also sometimes made to look like everyday
items such as pens and USB memory sticks, for people who wish to use the product with-
out others noticing.
Introduced to the global marketplace in 2004, e-cigarettes have become increasingly
popular around the world. By 2015, 466 brands of e-cigarettes were available globally,
generating $3 billion in sales. Most e-cigarette sales initially occurred on the Internet,
making the product easily accessible to both adults and teens, and at specialty vape shops.
More recently, e-cigarette manufacturers have packaged their products and sold them at
higher prices in convenience and grocery stores.
Advocates of e-cigarettes argued that they did not have the same harmful effects as
tobacco cigarettes, claiming that they did not produce harmful secondhand smoke affect-
ing nonsmokers. They also touted the product as a possible smoking cessation aid. Early

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research on the effects of e-cigarettes showed that the nicotine in e-cigarettes was addic-
tive, just as it was in tobacco cigarettes, but because e-cigarettes did not produce smoke
they were less harmful to a user’s lungs than tobacco. However, much remained unknown.
As one medical school professor explained, “E-cigarettes may be less harmful than ciga-
rettes, but we still don’t know enough about their long-term risks or the effects of second-
hand exposure.”
A few countries took up the issue of e-cigarette regulation. In 2013, Singapore banned
importing and selling e-cigarettes. This move surprised many, as most Asian countries have
a high tolerance for smoking and Singapore did not restrict the importation or sale of tobacco
cigarettes. In 2014, the European Parliament approved rules governing e- cigarettes. Begin-
ning in mid-2016, e-cigarette advertising was banned in the 28 nations of the European
Union, as it already was for ordinary tobacco products. E-cigarette packages were required
to carry a graphic health warning and be childproof. The amount of nicotine was limited to
20 milligrams per milliliter, similar to ordinary cigarettes. But the issue of regulating e-ciga-
rettes soon moved to the global stage.
Despite the inconclusive evidence of harms caused by e-cigarette smoking, the World
Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to restrict its use. The WHO report rec-
ommended that governments “ban the use of electronic cigarettes indoors and in public
places and outlaw tactics to lure young users.” It argued that the ban on indoor use was
necessary “until exhaled vapor is proven to be not harmful to bystanders.” It also called
for regulation to ensure the products contained a standard dose of nicotine (since the dose
varied widely among manufacturers), ban sales to minors, and prohibit the manufacture of
fruity, candy–type e-cigarette flavorings.
Initially, most of the e-cigarette regulatory activity in the United States occurred at
the state and local levels. By 2015, three states—North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah—
had banned e-cigarettes in public places such as restaurants and bars, and 18 states had
passed some limitations on the use or sale of e-cigarettes. Nearly 400 cities or countries
had restrictions on e-cigarettes. Yet, actions taken by the U. S. Food and Drug Adminis-
tration in 2009, when it aggressively attacked the manufacturing, sale, and use of tobacco
cigarettes by enforcing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, set the
stage of more regulation targeting e-cigarettes.
In 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a limited regulatory approach
when it announced new rules that prohibited sales of battery-powered nicotine deliv-
ery devices to anyone under 18 years of age and required manufacturers to submit their
products for FDA approval, in addition to disclosing ingredients and warning consumers
that nicotine was addictive. But, the new FDA rules stopped short of attempting to ban
advertising of e-cigarettes, Internet sales, or candy or fruit flavors, as recommended by the
WHO. Makers of e-cigarettes breathed a big sigh of relief when they heard these limited
restrictions. “I’m pleased the FDA has created a structure to treat these products differently
than traditional combustible cigarettes,” said Miguel Martin, president of Logic Technol-
ogy Development, a leading e-cigarette maker.
Perhaps U.S. tobacco manufacturers had learned an important lesson from the severe
regulatory controls imposed on the marketing of cigarettes, because they took initiative in
effect to regulate themselves. Many placed the strongest health warnings ever on e-cigarettes,
going even further than the warnings mandated on tobacco cigarette packages. Altria, the
maker of Marlboro cigarettes, stated on its packages of MarkTen, its e-cigarette line, “People
with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes should not use this product. Neither
should children. Nicotine can cause dizziness, nausea and stomach pains, and may worsen
asthma. Nicotine is addictive and habit forming, and is very toxic by inhalation, in contact
with the skin, or if swallowed.” Similarly, Reynolds American, makers of Camel cigarettes

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and Vuse, an e-cigarette product, printed on their e-cigarette packages the following warning,
“This product is not intended for persons who have an unstable heart condition, high blood
pressure, or diabetes; or persons who are at risk for heart disease or are taking medicine for
depression or asthma.” These warnings were entirely voluntary. Yet, some critics saw them
as ploys to reduce potential legal liability or the threat that governments would ban this prod-
uct altogether. A professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine said, “When I saw [the warning
labels on e-cigarettes], I nearly fell off my chair. Is this part of a noble effort for the better-
ment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter.”
The battle over the regulatory control on e-cigarettes will likely continue. After the
FDA announced its rules in 2014, Senator Durbin of Illinois said, “Shame on the FDA.
Parents across America lost their best ally in protecting their kids from this insidious prod-
uct.” The director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products told reporters it was continu-
ing its investigation into the effects of e-smoking. “It’s sort of like, walk before you run,”
indicating that more severe regulations could be forthcoming. Whether controls will come
from Congress or the FDA, the issue of regulating e-cigarettes appears to be far from over.

Sources: “E-Cigarettes: Questions and Answers,” Food and Drug Administration website, January 21, 2015,; “E-Cigarettes: Health and Safety Issues,” WebMD, accessed June 2015,; “States and
Municipalities with Laws Regulating Use of Electronic Cigarettes” American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, June 2015,; “European Parliament Approves Tough Rules on Electronic Cigarettes,” The New York Times, February 26,
2014,; “World Health Organization Urges Stronger Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes,” The New York
Times, August 26, 2014,; “E-Cig Makers Breathe Easier after FDA Proposes Rules,” The Wall Street Journal,
April 24, 2014,; and “Dire Warnings by Big Tobacco on E-Smoking,” The New York Times, September 28, 2014,


1. Should the U.S. and other national governments ban or more severely regulate the man-
ufacture, sale, and use of e-cigarettes? Why or why not?

2. Which stakeholders are most affected by the sale and regulation of e-cigarettes?
3. Is the tobacco industry demonstrating a strategy of working in a collaborative partner-

ship with the FDA by its voluntary warning labels on e-cigarettes?
4. Using the elements of public policy presented earlier in this chapter, identify the inputs,

goals, tools, and effects of the FDA’s effort to regulate e-cigarettes.
5. What reasons, discussed earlier in this chapter, could the FDA or other national regula-

tory agencies use to justify greater regulatory control of e-cigarettes?

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Influencing the Political
Businesses face complicated issues in managing their relationships with politicians and government
regulators. Managers must understand the political environment and be active and effective par-
ticipants in the public policy process. They need to ensure that their company is seen as a rele-
vant stakeholder when government officials make public policy decisions and must be familiar with
the many ways that business can influence these decisions. The opportunities afforded businesses
to participate in the public policy process differ from nation to nation. Sound business strategies
depend on an understanding of these differences, enabling businesses to manage worldwide
business– government relations effectively.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 8-1 Understanding the arguments for and against business participation in the political process.

LO 8-2 Knowing the types of corporate political strategies and the influences on an organization’s devel-
opment of a particular strategy.

LO 8-3 Assessing the tactics businesses can use to be involved in the political process.

LO 8-4 Examining the role of the public affairs department and its staff.

LO 8-5 Recognizing the challenges business faces in managing business–government relations in different

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In 2015, Arkansas state legislators voted in favor of a controversial “religious freedom” law
to allow people to freely exercise their religious beliefs without intervention or limitation
by government. (The Indiana legislature passed a similar bill at the same time.) Although
the new bill did not explicitly mention discrimination against homosexuals, many believed
that this effort would protect conservative Christian individuals and businesses if they
withheld services to anyone, such as same-sex couples, based on their beliefs. Not surpris-
ingly, organizations representing gays and lesbians were outraged and publicly protested
the new bill before it was signed by the governor and became law.

What surprised some people was the opposition from businesses, including Walmart, Gen-
eral Electric, Gap, Levi Strauss, Nike, and Apple. These companies made public announce-
ments, as well as orchestrated private lobbying efforts, against the new bill. Walmart’s chief
executive, Doug McMillon, speaking from the company’s headquarters in Bentonville,
Arkansas, said on Twitter, “The bill threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present
through the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold.” McMillon
called on the Arkansas governor to veto that state’s bill. Other companies aligned with com-
munity groups opposed to this law, citing the growing acceptance of gay marriages in many
states and understanding how this law could impact the firms’ employees and customers.

Arkansas Governor Hutchinson did sign the bill into law, but only after demanding that
the state’s legislators amend it to mirror current federal legislation that prohibited denying
services to anyone, including gay men and lesbians.”1

As the example above demonstrates, many businesses are active participants in the
political process to promote organizational goals, such as some did in this instance when
they confronted the state legislature and governor. While not always successful, corporate
political actions can alter legislation and protect stakeholders, as seen in Arkansas. In
general, business recognizes the necessity of understanding the political environment and
of addressing political issues as they arise. This is a constant challenge for business and
managers entrusted with managing the political environment, because what issues warrant
intervention is often controversial.

This chapter focuses on managing business–government relations and political issues.
Businesses do not have an absolute right to exist and pursue profits. The right to conduct
commerce depends on compliance with appropriate laws and public policy. As discussed in
Chapter 7, public policies and government regulations are shaped by many actors, including
business, special interest groups, and government officials. The emergence of public issues
often encourages companies to monitor public concerns, respond to government proposals,
and participate in the political process. This chapter discusses how managers can ethically
and practically meet the challenge of managing the business–government relationship.

Participants in the Political Environment

In many countries the political environment features numerous participants. These partici-
pants may have differing objectives and goals, varying access to political tools, and dispa-
rate levels of power or influence. The outcomes sought by businesses may be consistent, or
at odds, with the results desired by interest groups. Participants may argue that their needs
are greater than the needs of other political actors, or that one group or another group does
not have the right to be involved in the public policy process. To better understand the
dynamic nature of the political environment, it is important to explore who participates in
the political process and their claims of legitimacy.
1 “US Corporate Backlash Hits Religious Freedom Bills,” Financial Times, April 1, 2015,; “Arkansas Moves to
Revise Legislation as Concerns of Religion and Gay Rights Intensify,” The New York Times, April 1, 2015,;
“In Va. Politics, Renewable Energy Dwarfed by Big Utility,” The Virginian Pilot, March 1, 2014,

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Business as a Political Participant
There is a serious debate between those who favor and those who oppose business involve-
ment in governmental affairs. This debate involves the question of whether, and to what
extent, business should legitimately participate in the political process. As shown in
Figure 8.1, some people believe business should stay out of politics, while others argue
that business has a right to be involved.

Proponents of business involvement in the political process often argue that since other
affected groups (such as special interest groups) are permitted to be involved, it is only fair that
business should be, too. This justice and fairness argument becomes even stronger when one
considers the significant financial consequences that government actions may have on business.

An Irishman walks into a bar. This may sound like the opening line of a joke but it
actually is the beginning of a television advertisement about responsible drinking,
developed by British beverage maker Diageo. The company-sponsored ads promot-
ing moderation in drinking, the first of their kind in the United Kingdom, were
aired during prime time to maximize their impact. A Diageo spokesperson admitted
that while the company wanted to discourage binge drinking by young people, a
growing concern, it also hoped its campaign would help Diageo avoid possible gov-
ernmental regulation of their product and its advertisements.2

Businesses see themselves as countervailing forces in the political arena and believe
that their progress, and possibly survival, depends on influencing government policy and
regulations. But others are not as confident that the presence of business enhances the
political process. In this view, business has disproportionate influence, based on its great
power and financial resources.

Recent annual Harris polls consistently show that a large majority of Americans
believed that big companies had too much political power (88 percent). Political
action committees, a favorite political instrument for businesses, were seen as too
powerful by 87 percent of the public, as were political lobbyists (by 84 percent).
What is the group perceived as having the least amount of power in politics? The
answer is small businesses; only 5 percent of those surveyed felt that they had too
much political power. In the nearly two decades that the Harris Poll has been asking
these questions, people have become increasingly concerned about big companies,
lobbyists, and labor unions having too much political power.3

Although the debate over whether businesses should be involved in the political environ-
ment rages on, the facts are that in many countries businesses are permitted to engage in politi-
cal discussions, influence political races, and introduce or contribute to the drafting of laws and
regulations, as discussed later in this chapter. But businesses do not act alone in these activities.
One significant opposition to businesses in the political arena comes from labor unions.

2 “Promoting Moderation,” Ethical Performance Best Practices, Winter 2007/2008, p. 8.
3 “Big Companies, PACs, Banks, Financial Institutions and Lobbyists Seen by Strong Majorities as Having Too Much Power and
Influence in DC,” June 1, 2011,

The Arguments for
and against Political
Involvement by

Why Business Should Be Involved Why Business Should Not Be Involved

A pluralistic system invites many participants. Managers are not qualified to engage in political debate.

Economic stakes are high for firms. Business is too big, too powerful—an elephant dancing
among chickens.

Business counterbalances other social interests. Business is too selfish to care about the common good.

Business is a vital stakeholder of government. Business risks its credibility by engaging in partisan politics.

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Labor unions have been involved in U.S. politics for decades. Labor union federal politi-
cal action committees distributed nearly $13 million to candidates in 2013, with 87 percent
going to Democrats. Some of the top labor union PAC donors included the Engineers Political
Education Committee, the AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education, the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC, the Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee,
and the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees. The top unions donat-
ing to Super PACs, a source for campaign funds explained later in chapter, was the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, which gave nearly $2 million in 2013, the AFL-CIO,
and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, who each contributed
$1.5 million in 2013. (Some of these organizations are mentioned later in Figure 8.4.)4

Influencing the Business–Government Relationship

Most scholars and businesspeople agree: Business must participate in politics. Why? Quite
simply, the stakes are too high for business not to be involved. Government must and will act
upon many issues, and these issues affect the basic operations of business and its pursuit of eco-
nomic stability and growth. Therefore, businesses must develop a corporate political strategy.5

Corporate Political Strategy
A corporate political strategy involves the “activities taken by organizations to acquire, develop,
and use power to obtain an advantage.”6 These strategies might be used to further a firm’s eco-
nomic survival or growth. Alternatively, a corporate political strategy might target limiting a
competitor’s progress or ability to compete. Strategies also may be developed to simply exercise
the business’s right to a voice in government affairs, such as some companies’ protest against
the Arkansas “religious freedom” bill discussed at the beginning of this chapter. Organizations
differ in how actively they are involved in politics on an ongoing basis. Some companies essen-
tially wait for a public policy issue to emerge before building a strategy to address that issue.
This is likely when they believe the threat posed by unexpected public issues is relatively small.

On the other hand, other companies develop an ongoing political strategy, so that they are
ready when various public issues arise. Firms are most likely to have a long-term political
strategy if they believe the risks of harm from unexpected public issues are great, or when
the firm is a frequent target of public attention. For example, firms in the chemical industry,
which must contend with frequently changing environmental regulations and the risk of dan-
gerous accidents, usually have a sophisticated political strategy. The same may be true for
firms in the entertainment industry, which must often contend with policy issues such as intel-
lectual property rights, public standards of decency, and licensing rights to new technologies.

Political actions by businesses often take the form of one of the following three strategic
types, also shown in Figure 8.2:

∙ Information strategy (where businesses seek to provide government policymakers with
information to influence their actions, such as lobbying).

∙ Financial-incentives strategy (where businesses provide incentives to influence govern-
ment policymakers to act in a certain way, such as making a contribution to a political
action committee that supports the policymaker).

4 “Labor Union PACs Give $12.6 Million in Political Contributions in 2013,”, September 2, 2013,
5 For a contrarian view, see Miguel Alzola, “Corporate Dystopia: The Ethics of Corporate Political Spending,” Business &
Society, 52 (2013), pp. 388–426.
6 The quotation is from John F. Mahon and Richard McGowan, Industry as a Player in the Political and Social Arena (Westport,
CT: Quorum Press, 1996), p. 29. Also see Jean-Philippe Bonardi, Amy J. Hillman, and Gerald D. Keim, “The Attractiveness of
Political Markets: Implications for Firm Strategy” Academy of Management Review 30 (2005), pp. 397–413, for a thorough
discussion of this concept.

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∙ Constituency-building strategy (where businesses seek to gain support from other affected
organizations to better influence government policymakers to act in a way that helps them).

The various tactics used by businesses when adopting each of these political strategies
are discussed next in this chapter.

Political Action Tactics

The tactics or tools used by business to influence the public policy process are often sim-
ilar to those available to other political participants. Sometimes business may have an
advantage since it might have greater financial resources, but often it is how tactics are
used—not the amount of money spent—that determines their effectiveness. This section
will discuss tactics used by business in the three strategic areas of information, financial
incentives, and constituency building.

Promoting an Information Strategy
As shown in Figure 8.2, some firms pursue a political strategy that tries to provide govern-
ment policymakers with information to influence their actions. Lobbying is the political
action tool most often used by businesses when pursuing this type of political strategy,
but some firms also use various forms of direct communication with policymakers. These
various information-strategy approaches are discussed next.


An important tool of business involvement in politics is lobbying. Many companies hire full-
time representatives in Washington, DC, state capitals, or local cities (or the national capital
in other countries where they operate) to keep abreast of developments that may affect the
company and, when necessary, to communicate with government officials. These individu-
als are called lobbyists. Their job is to represent the business before the people and agencies

Business Strategies
for Influencing

Source: Adapted from Amy J.
Hillman and Michael A. Hitt,
“Corporate Political Strategy
Formulation: A Model of
Approach, Participation, and
Strategy Decisions” Academy
of Management Review 24
(1999), Table 1, p. 835. Used
by permission.






Constituency-building Strategy

• Stakeholder coalitions
• Advocacy advertising
• Public relations
• Legal challenges

Information Strategy

• Lobbying
• Direct communication
• Expert witness testimony

Financial-incentives Strategy

• Political contributions
• Economic leverage
• Political consulting aid
• Office personnel

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involved in determining legislative and regulatory outcomes. Lobbying involves direct con-
tact with a government official to influence the thinking or actions of that person on an issue
or a public policy. Lobbyists communicate with and try to persuade others to support an
organization’s interest or stake as they consider a particular law, policy, or regulation.

Businesses, trade associations, and other groups spend a great deal on lobbying. Figure 8.3
shows the total number of lobbyists and the amount spent on lobbying activity from 1998 to
2014. As illustrated, the number of lobbyists peaked in 2008 and 2009 but declined recently.
The amount spent on lobbying rose to $3 billion each year by 2008 and has shown little
decline since that time. The organizations spending the most on lobbying since 2000 were
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Medical Association, General Electric, the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Hospital Associa-
tion, and the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired People).7

Under U.S. law and EU directive (and in other nations as well), lobbying activities
are severely limited and must be disclosed publicly.8 Lobbying firms and organizations
employing in-house lobbyists must register with the government. They must also file regu-
lar reports on their earnings (lobbyists) or expenses (organizations), and indicate the issues
and legislation that were the focus of their efforts. These rules are supposed to guarantee
that politicians are free from undue influence and represent the public interest. However,
they are not always effective, as the following examples show.

A senior politician in the British House of Lords was accused in 2013 of arranging
to pay undercover reporters to pose as lobbyists and bribe other Lords to ask ques-
tions and influence debates during Parliamentary sessions. For a fee of £2,000

7 For a complete listing of lobbyists and their expenses by organization and by industry, see
8 For a detailed account of lobbying regulations in the United States, see Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance at lobbyingdis-, and for a description of the EU directive, see “New EU Lobbying Rules to Cover National Embassies,”
EurActiv, October 29, 2009,

Total Federal
Lobbying Spending
and Number of
Lobbyists, 1998–2014,
by U.S. Business

Source: Center for Responsive
Politics at www.opensecrets
.org. Used by permission.

Total Lobbying Spending ($ in billions) Number of Lobbyists


































2009$3.50 13,672

2010$3.54 12,931

2011$3.32 12,655

2012$3.31 12,185

2013$3.24 12,109

2014$3.24 11,800

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(nearly $3,000) a month, these “lobbyists” would intervene for the senior politician
and offer other politicians cash or trips to Fiji. The intention was to show wide-
spread support for the senior politician’s views in the House. The House of Lords
rules state that Lords are not allowed to “accept any financial inducements as an
incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence” and should act in the
public interest at all times. The British lobbying scandal escalated two years later
when two former British foreign secretaries were exposed for using their govern-
mental positions to favor foreign investors. One of the accused boasted that he oper-
ated under the radar to use his influence to change European Union rules on behalf
of a foreign commodity firm, paying him £60,000 (nearly $100,000) a year.9

Businesses sometimes hire former government officials as lobbyists and political advi-
sors. These individuals bring with them their personal connections and detailed knowledge
of the public policy process. This circulation of individuals between business and gov-
ernment is often referred to as the revolving door. Some examples of this revolving door
phenomena are shown in Exhibit 8.A.

While it is perfectly legal for government officials to seek employment in industry,
and vice versa, the revolving door carries potential for abuse. Although it may be praised
as an act of public service when a business executive leaves a corporate position to work
for a regulatory agency, that executive may be inclined to act favorably toward his or her
former employer. Such favoritism would not be fair to other firms also regulated by the
agency. Businesses can also seek to influence public policy by offering jobs to regulators
in exchange for favors, a practice that is considered highly unethical. “Is it any wonder
that the public holds such a low esteem for Congress?” said Joel Hefley, who served as
chairman of the House ethics committee before he retired from Congress. “You can dance
around these rules in so many ways it really does not accomplish much of anything.”10

Despite the public’s strong concerns, lobbying—as well as hiring former government
officials for positions in the corporate world—is normally legal, but great care must be
exercised to act ethically.

Direct Communications

Businesses can also promote an information strategy through direct communication with
policymakers, another kind of information strategy.

Democracy requires citizen access and communication with political leaders. Businesses
often invite government officials to visit local plant facilities, give speeches to employees,
attend awards ceremonies, and participate in activities that will improve the officials’ under-
standing of management and employee concerns. These activities help to humanize the dis-
tant relationship that can otherwise develop between government officials and the public.

One of the most effective organizations promoting direct communications between
business and policymakers is The Business Roundtable. Founded in 1972, the Roundtable
is an organization of chief executive officers (CEOs) of leading corporations representing
$7.2 trillion in annual revenues and more than 16 million employees. The organization
studies various public policy issues and advocates for laws that it believes “foster vigorous
economic growth and a dynamic global economy.” Some issues the Roundtable has taken
a position on in recent years include corporate governance, job creation and training, sus-
tainability, health care, international trade, immigration, and cybersecurity.11

9 “Peer Drawn into Lobbying Sandal Resigns from Party,” The Telegraph, June 2, 2013,; and “A UK Lob-
bying Scandal,” Kiwiblog, February 24, 2015,
10 “Law Doesn’t End Revolving Door on Capitol Hill,” The New York Times, February 1, 2014,
11 More information about the Business Roundtable is available at

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The Revolving Door of Political Influence

What job opportunities are available for politicians after they decide to retire from Congress or lose a recent
reelection campaign? Lucrative positions await many of them just months after leaving Congress.

• Rep. Howard Berman, the former chairman of the foreign affairs committee and after 20 years of service
in the House, was employed by Covington & Burling, a Washington law firm, as its lobbyist on foreign

• Rep. Norm Dicks, the former chair of the House subcommittee that oversaw the Environmental Protection
Agency’s budget and served as a Congressman for 36 years, was employed by Van Ness Feldman, an
environmental law firm.

• Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, 14-year Congressman, was hired by Via Metropolitan Transit, a public transit com-
pany that received $35 million in federal funds with Gonzalez’s help when he was in Congress.

• Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, joined the law
and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro six months after leaving Congress in 2007. Over the next few years,
he earned millions of dollars lobbying his former colleagues on behalf of foreign governments and various
businesses, including tobacco and coal companies

• Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, after 10 years in the Senate and serving as the top Republican on the Com-
merce Committee, became a lobbyist for Yamaha Motors on consumer product safety issues.

Federal ethics rules, revised in 2007 after a lobbying scandal, were supposed to prohibit former senior offi-
cials from lobbying for at least one year after they left their government positions. Yet, more than 1,650 con-
gressional aides registered as lobbyists within one year after leaving Capitol Hill, accounting for 44 percent
of all registered lobbyists. They had apparently taken advantage of loopholes in the ethics rules, such as
agreeing to a salary just below the cutoff point established in the lobbying restrictions or were previously
paid by an individual lawmaker or leadership office, so they were allowed to lobby other House committee
members they had worked closely with as a House aide.

Sources: “Lobbying From Capitol to K Street in a Hot Second,” Bloomberg Businessweek, May 27–June 2, 2013, p. 37; and “Law
Doesn’t End Revolving Door on Capitol Hill,” The New York Times, February 1, 2014, See also “Glenn
R. Parker, Suzanne L. Parker, and Matthew S. Dabros, “The Labor Market for Politicians: Why Ex-Legislators Gravitate to Lobbying,”
Business & Society 52 (2013), pp. 427–50.

Exhibit 8.A

Expert Witness Testimony

A common method of providing information to legislators is for CEOs and other execu-
tives to give testimony in various public forums. Businesses may want to provide facts,
anecdotes, or data to educate and influence government leaders. One way that government
officials collect information in the United States is through public congressional hearings,
where business leaders may be invited to speak. These hearings may influence whether
legislation is introduced in Congress, or change the language or funding of a proposed
piece of legislation, or shape how regulation is implemented. In some cases, the very
future of the firm or industry may be at stake.

General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress multiple times in 2014
to address policymakers’ concerns about faulty ignition switches in GM automo-
biles, which had resulted in as many as 100 deaths and leading to nearly 2.6 million
recalled automobiles. (This story is detailed in the case, “General Motors and the
Ignition Switch Recalls,” at the end of the book.) In one appearance, Barra com-
mented on the recently published report by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas,
which was critical of GM’s culture. Barra called the report “brutally tough and
deeply troubling,” but also highlighted the personnel changes made by the auto-
maker, including firing 15 employees and adding 35 safety investigators. She also

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reiterated the point she made in her town hall address to employees two weeks ear-
lier: “I also told them that while I want to solve the problems as quickly as possible,
I never want anyone associated with GM to forget what happened. I want this terri-
ble experience permanently etched in our collective memories,” Barra said. “This
isn’t just another business challenge. This is a tragic problem that never should have
happened. And it must never happen again.”12

Promoting a Financial-Incentive Strategy
A major method businesses use to influence government policymakers is to provide finan-
cial incentives. They can do this by contributing to a politician’s election campaign, in
order to persuade him or her—once in office—to support certain policies or to vote in a
manner favorable to the firms’ interests. In recent years, a series of Supreme Court and
lower court decisions have dramatically expanded the ability of corporations to make
campaign contributions. This section will describe the various mechanisms businesses
can now use to influence the outcome of elections, including political action committees,
Super PACs, tax-exempt organizations, and direct contributions by both corporations and
their executives and employees.

Political Action Committees

One of the oldest political action tools used by business is to form and support political
action committees (PACs), independently incorporated organizations that can solicit contri-
butions and then channel those funds to candidates seeking public office. Since the mid-
1970s, companies have been permitted to spend company funds to organize and administer
political action committees. (They cannot give directly to PACs, however.) PAC contribu-
tions to political campaigns are limited to certain amounts per candidate and per election.
In 2014, large PACs (with 50 contributors or more) could give up to $5000 per candidate
per election and $15,000 per national party per calendar year; for small PACs, these limits
were $2600 and $32,400, respectively. The amounts that could be donated to a PAC were
also limited.

PACs are particularly active in industries that are highly regulated or are the target of
proposed regulations, such as the financial services and health care industries. Figure 8.4
lists the top political action committees by contribution, comparing data from two periods.
It shows that the labor unions and trade associations that dominated the top 10 PAC list
in 2001–02 (with 7 of the top 10 spots) have been replaced by a growing number of busi-
ness organizations (Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, and AT&T) and business
trade groups (National Association of Realtors, National Beer Wholesalers Association,
National Auto Dealers Association, and American Bankers Association).

Business PACs have been somewhat balanced in their support of Democrat and Repub-
lican candidates. For example, the following companies, through political action commit-
tee contributions, have generally supported both Democrat and Republican candidates:
Honeywell International (43%–57%), Comcast (53%–47%), Goldman Sachs (46%–54%),
Blue Cross/Blue Shield (39%–61%), AT&T (35%–65%), Lockheed Martin, (40%–60%),
General Electric (40%–60%), and Google (71%–29%).13

Although companies have continued to operate PACs, this mechanism has some disad-
vantages, from a business perspective. Contributions are capped at fairly low levels, and

12 “GM’s CEO Tells Congress: ‘I Will Not Rest Until These Problems Are Resolved’,” Fortune, June 18, 2014,
13 For a more comprehensive listing of business contributions by political party, see

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PAC Name 2001–02 PAC Name 2007–2008 PAC Name 2013–14

1. National Association of

$3,648,526 National
Association of

$4,020,900 National Association
of Realtors


2. Laborers Union $2,814,200 International
Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers

$3,344,650 National Beer


3. Association of Trial
Lawyers of America

$2,813,753 AT&T, Inc. $3,108,200 Honeywell


4. National Auto Dealers

$2,578,750 American Bankers

$2,918,143 National Auto Dealers


5. American Medical

$2,480,972 National Beer

$2,869,000 Lockheed Martin $2,629,750

6. American Federation of

$2,423,500 National
Auto Dealers

$2,864,000 American Bankers


7. Teamsters Union $2,390,003 International
Association of
Fire Fighters

$2,734,900 AT&T Inc. $2,507,250

8. United Auto Workers $2,339,000 Operating
Engineers Union

$2,704,067 Operating Engineers


9. International
Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers

$2,249,300 American
Association for

$2,700,500 Credit Union National


10. Carpenters & Joiners

$2,243,000 Laborers Union $2,555,850 International
Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers


FIGURE 8.4 Political Action Committee Activity

Sources: “Top PACs” for 2001–02, 2007–08, and 2013–14, Center for Responsive Politics,

companies cannot give money directly to their affiliated PACs. For these reasons, compa-
nies have turned increasingly to other mechanisms of political influence that have recently
become available, as described next.

Super PACs

In 2010, a federal district court ruling in a lawsuit filed by opened the
door for the creation of another mechanism of political influence. The court ruled that as
long as PACs did not contribute directly to candidates, parties, or other PACs, they could
accept unlimited contributions from individuals, unions, or corporations. This decision led
the rise of super PACs, technically known as independent expenditure-only committees.
Because contribution limits had been removed by the court, these organizations were able
to raise and spend vast amounts of money, so long as they were not actually affiliated with
any campaigns.

By 2015, 1360 groups had organized as Super PACs. They reported total contribu-
tions of nearly $700 million and spent more than $345 million in the 2014 election cycle.
Although super PACs were technically independent, they often worked to support particular

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candidates or parties, such as the two largest super PACs, the Senate Majority PAC and the
House Majority PAC (both allied with the Democrat Party). But many super PACs repre-
sented a group of potential voters or a political stance, such as the Women Speak Out PAC,
the Southern Conservatives Fund, or the Montanans for Limited Government.

While some companies were eager to take advantage of the new opportunity to support
Super PACs, others found that doing so could be risky.

As campaign financing laws began to change, Target welcomed the opportunity to
get more involved in politics. The Minnesota retailer donated $150,000 to a super
PAC called Minnesota Forward, which supported pro-business candidates through-
out the state. Minnesota Forward backed a conservative candidate running for
governor who, in addition to being pro-business, was against same-sex marriage.
Hundreds of gay rights supporters demonstrated outside Target stores across the
nation, and more than 240,000 people signed a petition promising a boycott. A note
was placed on the retailer’s Facebook page that read, “Boycott Target until they
cease funding anti-gay politics.”

Target chief executive Gregg Steinhafel later apologized in a letter to his
employees, saying, “The intent of our political contribution to [Minnesota] Forward
was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a
business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision
affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely
sorry.” Target declined to comment on the suggestion that the firm withdraw its

Tax-Exempt Organizations

A third mechanism businesses can use to direct money to election campaigns is tax-exempt
organizations, such as 527, 501(c)4, or 501(c)6 organizations, each named after the rele-
vant section of the tax code. These organizations are political campaign groups officially
unaffiliated with individual parties or candidates, and therefore not liable for campaign
spending restrictions. They gained prominence after the passage of the Bipartisan Cam-
paign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, which prohibited soft money—unlimited contribu-
tions to the national political parties by individuals or organizations for party-building
activities. As a way to get around these restrictions, some companies turned to tax-exempt
organizations as vehicles for their political contributions. In the 2014 election cycle, 527
organizations raised more than $715 million.

One of the most active 527 organizations leading up to the 2016 elections was Next-
Gen Climate Action. This political fund was founded in 2013 by Tom Steyer, an
investor and philanthropist. Steyer explained, “We act politically to prevent climate
disaster and preserve American prosperity. Working at every level, we are commit-
ted to supporting candidates, elected officials and policymakers across the country
that will take bold action on climate change—and to exposing those who deny real-
ity and cater to special interests.” In 2014, NextGen Climate Action had collected
nearly $24 million in contributions and allocated more than $22 million. Other
examples of large 527 organizations are ActBlue, a fund that enabled individuals to
raise money for the Democratic candidates of their choosing using the Internet, and
EMILY’s List, a fund that supported pro-choice, Democrat female candidates.15

14 “Target Discovers Downside to Political Contributions,” The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2010,
15 See,, and

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The term dark money was used to describe contributions made to these tax-exempt
organizations since the donors’ names and amount of their contributions were not reported
to the Federal Election Commission. Contributions to these organizations are often used
for various advocacy tactics, such as telephone calls, television or radio announcements,
and social media messages to bring attention to a political issue. These types of organiza-
tions have no contribution or spending limits.

The Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization formed by
allies of Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Congressman, announced that it was pre-
paring to spend more than $20 million on issue advertising (a political tactic dis-
cussed later in this chapter) during the 2016 presidential campaign. The
organization said it had already raised $15.8 million from donors, whose names
were not required to be disclosed. By July 2015, the organization had spent
$3.3 million on television and radio advertising primarily focusing on Rubio’s
attacks on the Obama administration’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran. The
Conservative Solutions Project represented a new form of political support, assum-
ing activities normally carried out by a candidate’s campaign but operating under
greater anonymity.16

These tax-exempt organizations were intended to promote what the Internal Revenue
Service called “social welfare,” rather than be used as a political tactic to support politi-
cians running for office. The IRS reportedly is preparing rules to define more clearly what
social welfare groups can spend on politics but these rules were not expected until after the
2016 elections.

Direct Contributions by Corporations

Until 2010 corporations were not permitted by law to make direct contributions to political
candidates for national and most state offices. As noted above, companies could organize
PACs and contribute to super PACs or tax-exempt organizations, but they could not simply
write a check from their own corporate treasuries to support a candidate, say, for president.
But that all changed with the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal
Election Commission. As further explained in Exhibit 8.B, this decision allowed compa-
nies for the first time to contribute directly to political campaigns.

In 2012, the first full election cycle after the Citizen United decision, outside spend-
ing for all political campaigns tripled from the previous four-year cycle to more than
$1 billion. Super PACs accounted for more than $600 million of that spending. The Bren-
nan Center for Justice reported that nearly 60 percent of all super PAC money came from
195 individuals and their spouses. In 2014, the Supreme Court, in a separate case called
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, abolished all limits on election spending by
corporations, as well as other organizations such as unions. Combined with the Citizens
United decision, this opened the floodgates to corporate political spending. In an analy-
sis of the 2014 Senate races, outside spending more than doubled since 2010 to nearly
$500 million, accounting for 47 percent of all campaign funds.

Executive and Employee Personal Contributions

A final way that companies can influence elections is by encouraging their executives or
employees to make personal contributions to the campaigns of candidates whose views
they feel are aligned with their interests. The McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

16 “Nonprofit Group Tied to Marco Rubio Raises Millions While Shielding Donors,” The New York Times, July 6, 2015,

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decision, mentioned earlier, also struck down the cap on the total amount any individ-
ual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle. In 2014, just 31,976
donors—about 1 percent of 1 percent of the U.S. population—provided $1.18 billion in
federal political contributions.

Given the multiple mechanisms for campaign financing and the lack of caps on the
amount contributed, individuals are able to significantly influence the political process if
they have enough money. One example of the potential for political power through contri-
butions is described next.

In 2015, a political network overseen by conservative billionaires Charles G. and
David H. Koch was ready to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign. This
represented an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to influence the
U.S. presidential election that already was to be the most expensive in history. The
political network coordinated contributions from the Koch brothers, as well as 300
other donors recruited over the years. This amount of political campaign financing
was on the same scale as what was predicted to be spent by either of the Democrat or
Republican parties’ presidential candidates. Since most of the Koch brothers’ causes
and ideology were conservative, experts argued that nearly all of their political influ-
ence would support the Republican Party and its candidates and aim to unseat Dem-
ocratic members of Congress, governors, and members of state legislatures.17

Generally, any contribution by an individual of more than $200 needs to be reported
to the FEC by the candidate or administrators of the political action fund to the Federal

17 “Koch Brothers’ Budget of $889 Million for 2016 Is on Par with Both Parties’ Spending,” The New York Times, January 26,

The Citizens United Case

In a 5-to-4 decision in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the argument made by Citizens United, a conser-
vative nonprofit political organization, that its First Amendment right to free speech was violated by the Fed-
eral Election Commission’s restrictions on campaign contributions. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the
majority opinion, “if the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or
associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” Republican campaign consultant Ed Rollins
stated that the decision added transparency to the election process and would make it more competitive.
The Citizens United decision sent shock waves through the world of campaign financing since it allowed
corporations, and also labor unions, for the first time in the history of the United States to directly contribute
to candidates for public office. Critics said it would “corrupt democracy” by allowing corporate funds to flow
directly into campaigns. At the time of the decision, 80 percent of Americans surveyed opposed the Citizens
United ruling, and 65 percent strongly opposed it. Nearly three out of four Americans supported an effort by
Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns.
On the five-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision President Barack Obama spoke out on the
Supreme Court ruling. “Our democracy works best when everyone’s voice is heard, and no one’s voice is
drowned out. But five years ago, a Supreme Court ruling allowed big companies—including foreign corpo-
rations—to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections,” Mr. Obama said. “The Citizens
United decision was wrong, and it has caused real harm to our democracy.”

Sources: “Summary Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (Docket No. 08-205),” Cornell University School of Law, n.d.,; “Money Grubbers: The Supreme Court Kills Campaign Finance Reform,” Slate, January 21,
2010,; “Justices, 5–4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit,” The New York Times, January 21, 2010,;
“Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” IIT Chicago—Kent College of Law, June 1, 2012,; “Supreme Court
Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap,” The New York Times, April 2, 2014,; and, “Obama: Citizens United
Caused ‘Real Harm’ to U.S. Democracy,” The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2015, Also see David Silver, “Business
Ethics after Citizens United: A Contractualist Analysis,” Journal of Business Ethics 127 (2015), pp. 385–97.

Exhibit 8.B

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Election Commission. These data are periodically published by the Federal Election Com-
mission. Individuals can also make such contributions electronically.

In 2012 the Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled that individuals could make
modest contributions to the politician of their choice via mobile messaging. By
acquiring the correct six-digit “short code,” unique to each political candidate run-
ning for an office, individuals could text that number with the amount of their
donation and the contribution would appear on their cell phone bill. Those running
the political campaign did not see the name of the contributor, only the telephone
number, so contributions were limited to $50 a month per cell phone number since
any larger amount would have to be filed with the FEC and a donor’s name would
be required. Donors had to attest that they were U.S. citizens, at least 18-years-old,
and were using their own funds (not those of a relative or employer).18

In short, recent court decisions have expanded the mechanisms available to corpora-
tions (as well as unions and other organizations) to use their resources to influence politics.
To some, these developments represent a confirmation of business free speech rights. To
others, they represent a distortion of the political process in favor of organizations and
individuals with money to spend.

Economic Leverage

Another political action tool often used by businesses when pursuing a financial incen-
tive strategy is to use their economic leverage to influence public policymakers. Economic
leverage occurs when a business uses its economic power to threaten to leave a city, state,
or country unless a desired political action is taken. Economic leverage also can be used to
persuade a government body to act in a certain way that would favor the business, as seen
in the following story.

When the state of Pennsylvania was considering legalizing slot machines at race-
tracks, the owners of a National Hockey League team located in the state, the Pitts-
burgh Penguins, were lobbying for a new ice hockey arena to be built with public
funds. Government leaders were hesitant to use public funds for a new arena unless
substantial private funds were also available. Ted Arneault, owner of the Mountaineer
Racetrack and Gaming Resort and part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, offered a
deal. He said his company would contribute $60 million to build the new ice hockey
arena if the state would approve the use of slot machines at Pennsylvania racetracks,
including his proposed racetrack facility near Pittsburgh. Legislators agreed.19

In this example, the business owner successfully used economic leverage. By commit-
ting his own private money to help support the construction of a new ice hockey arena, he
was able to persuade politicians to vote in favor of legislation to approve the use of slot
machines at racetracks in the state.

Promoting a Constituency-Building Strategy
The final strategy used by business to influence the political environment is to seek sup-
port from organizations or people who are also affected by the public policy or who are
sympathetic to business’s political position. This approach is sometimes called a grass-
roots strategy, because its objective is to shape policy by mobilizing the broad public in

18 “Please Text $$$ To My Campaign ,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, June 18–24, 2012, p. 28.
19 “Penguins, Arneault Make $107 Million Private Funding Proposal for New Arena Project,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 24,
2003, p. A1.

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support of a business organization’s position, or a grasstops strategy, because its objective
is to influence local opinion leaders. Firms use several methods to build support among
constituents. These include advocacy advertising, public relations, and building coalitions
with other affected stakeholders. With the increase in the availability of technology, firms
have turned to social media as a grassroots tool as the following example shows.

Social media has dramatically changed how the public connects to the political envi-
ronment. The day before the Iowa caucuses formally began the U.S. 2012 presiden-
tial campaign, Google launched a new election website, called Google Politics and
Elections. The site allowed users to compare candidates’ rankings in searches, news
stories, blogs, and YouTube videos and provided a “politics and election toolkit” and
a 2012 political calendar to track the whereabouts of the candidates. Google
expanded this website by providing information on political candidates, emerging
political issues, and elections results from around the world, as well as state and
local elections in the United States. “Our goal is to bring people closer to politics by
making relevant information and resources easier to find and interact with. This page
will focus on impartial data and digital trends surrounding the political process. We
are non-partisan and don’t support or endorse any political candidates.”20

Stakeholder Coalitions

Businesses may try to influence politics by mobilizing various organizational stakeholders—
employees, stockholders, customers, and the local community—to support their political
agenda. If a political issue can negatively affect a business, it is likely that it also will neg-
atively affect that business’s stakeholders. If pending regulation will impose substantial
costs on the business, these costs may result in employee layoffs, or a drop in the firm’s
stock value, or higher prices for the firm’s customers. Often, businesses organize programs
to get organizational stakeholders, acting as lobbyists or voters, to influence government
officials to vote or act in a favorable way.

In 2012, politicians and businesspeople from the region wanted to convince Shell
Oil Company to build its new petrochemical plant in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Shell was looking for a convenient location for a plant to process the growing sup-
ply of natural gas extracted from the region by hydraulic fracturing (also called
fracking and further discussed in Chapter 10). The southwestern Pennsylvania area
had many attractive elements—access to railroad and water transportation systems,
business-friendly politicians, a trained and available workforce, and plenty of natural
gas. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett spent months hosting meetings where Shell’s
executives could meet with various political and business leaders. Then he learned
that many of the Shell Oil executives were big Pittsburgh Steeler fans, the local pro-
fessional football team. Corbett arranged for the Shell executives to tour Heinz Field,
home of the Steelers, including a glimpse into the team’s locker room, and to meet
with Steelers executives. Soon after, Shell announced that it would build its new plant
in Monaca, just 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Shell Oil’s spokesperson declined to
confirm that the Heinz Field outing and meeting with Steeler officials had “clinched
the deal,” but he did say that “the governor is an excellent ambassador and salesman
for his state and hometown of Pittsburgh, and he is a huge Steelers fan.”21

20 “Google Launches New Election Site,” Pittsburgh Business Times, January 3, 2012, Also see
21 “Corbett Made Pass to Oil Execs with Steelers,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 16, 2012,

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Advocacy Advertising and Public Relations

A common method of influencing constituents is advocacy advertising. Advocacy ads
focus not on a particular product or service, like most ads, but rather on an organization’s
or a company’s views on controversial political issues. Advocacy ads, also called issue
advertisements, can appear in newspapers, on television, or in other media outlets. They
have been legal in the United States since 1978, but greater involvement by businesses
and other nonprofit (advocacy) organizations in the political process resulted in their use
to dramatically increase after the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision,
discussed earlier. A media expert reported that since the Citizens United decision, televi-
sion and radio stations received more than $2.5 million in revenue each year from issue
advertisements, compared with less than $1 million each year previously. (Examples of
advocacy advertisements are provided in Chapter 19.)

Another constituency-building tactic is the use of public relations firms to promote the
company’s message to various stakeholders. The American Petroleum Institute, which
represents numerous oil and gas companies, spent more than $7 million lobbying federal
officials in 2012, but $85.5 million to four public relations and advertising firms to educate
the American public. From 2008 through 2012, the American Petroleum Institute paid one
global public relations firm $327.4 million for advertising and public relations services.
Another example of political activity through public relations is described next.

Locust Street Group, one of the top 10 public relations and advertising firms, was paid
$23.6 million from 2008 through 2012, almost all of which came from America’s
Health Insurance Plans. As stated on the Locust Street Group website, “DC may have
K Street with tons of lobbyists, but small towns all over America have a Locust Street.”
Businesses have turned to firms like the Locust Street Group to take their message to
the American public, in addition to lobbying directly on Capitol Hill and politicians.22

Trade Associations

Many businesses work through trade associations—coalitions of companies in the same
or related industries—to coordinate their grassroots mobilization campaigns, such as the
National Realtors Association (real estate brokers), National Federation of Independent
Businesses (small businesses), the National Association of Manufacturers (manufacturers
only), or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (broad, diverse membership).23

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents more than 3 million businesses of all
sizes, sectors, and regions. The chamber has a multimillion-dollar budget, publishes
a widely circulated magazine, and operates a satellite television network to broad-
cast its political messages. Its agenda includes expanding trade, producing more
domestic energy, improving infrastructure, modernizing the regulatory process,
making essential changes to entitlements, fixing the flaws in Obamacare, curbing
lawsuit abuse, and advancing American innovation by protecting intellectual prop-
erty. The agenda also focuses on revitalizing capital markets, passing immigration
reform, and improving education and training, which will expand opportunity,
address inequality, and create jobs.24

22 “Who Needs Lobbyists? See What Big Business Spends to Win American Minds,” Moyers & Company, January 28, 2015,
23 The classic discussion of corporate political action can be found in Edwin Epstein, The Corporation in American Politics
(Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1969). A more recent handbook of current strategies in American political activity is in
Kenneth A. Gross, Lawrence M. Noble, Ki P. Hong, and Patricia M. Zweibel, Corporate Political Activities Deskbook (New York:
Practicing Law Institute, 2014).
24 See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website,

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Businesses focus on various trade associations for promoting their political activities.
The Center for Public Integrity reported that trade associations spent more than $1 million
on lobbying in 2012. According to an IRS report, of the $3.4 billion in contracts reported
by the 144 trade groups from 2008 through 2012, more than $1.2 billion, or 37 percent,
went toward advertising, public relations, and marketing services; more than any other
category. The second-highest total, $682.2 million, or 20 percent of the total, was directed
toward legal, lobbying, and government affairs.25

Activities of trade associations may include letters, telephone calls, tweets, blogs,
e-mails, and other Internet communications to register approval or disapproval of a gov-
ernment official’s position on an important issue.

Legal Challenges

A political tactic available to businesses (and other political participants) is the use of legal
challenges. In this approach, business seeks to overturn a law or portions of a law after it
has been passed or threatens to challenge the legal legitimacy of the new regulation in the
courts. Such an approach is shown in the following example:

A few years after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, many organizations
began to legally challenge the provision that required employers to provide employ-
ees with contraceptive coverage in their health plans. Many of those filing lawsuits
were churches and religious-affiliated businesses, like Hobby Lobby and its owners
David and Barbara Green. The Greens argued that the contraceptive requirement
directly challenged their faith, which was the foundation of their business. Based on
strong, traditional Christian values, Hobby Lobby stores were not open on Sunday,
and the owners and employees supported various Christian charities with their time
and financial contributions. Hobby Lobby’s owners also were strongly opposed to
any form of birth control based on their religious convictions. According to CEO
David Green, “Our family is now being forced to choose between following the
laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our
business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees
and their families.” In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5 to 4 decision,
in favor of Hobby Lobby, exempting the company from the Affordable Care Act
requirements and citing the legal principle that one can maintain their religious
beliefs even when acting as a business owner.26

Levels of Political Involvement

Business executives must decide on the appropriate level of political involvement for their
company. As shown in Figure 8.5, there are multiple levels of involvement and many ways
to participate. To be successful, a business must think strategically about objectives and
how specific political issues and opportunities relate to those objectives.

Organizations often begin at the lowest level of political participation, limited organiza-
tional involvement. Here managers of the organization are not ready or willing to become
politically involved by giving their own time or getting their stakeholders involved, but they
want to do something to influence the political environment. Organizations at this level
may show their political interest, for example, by writing out a check to a trade association
to support an industry-backed political action, such as hiring a lobbyist on a specific issue.

25 For more information, see Center for Public Integrity,
26 “Businesses Sue Government over Birth Control Mandate,” National Public Radio, January 11, 2013,; and for a
detailed timeline and analysis of the lawsuit see

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When the organization is ready for moderate political involvement, managers might
directly employ a lobbyist to represent the company’s political strategy in Washington or
the state capital to push the firm’s political agenda. This is a more active form of political
involvement since the lobbyist is an employee of the organization. Getting the organiza-
tion’s stakeholders involved is another way a firm can increase its political involvement.
Employees can write letters or send e-mails or tweets to their congressperson or become
involved in a political campaign. Senior executives might communicate with stockholders
or customers on particular issues that might affect the firm and its stakeholders and encour-
age them to write letters, blog, or otherwise voice their concerns. Some firms have sent
letters to their stockholders soliciting their political contributions for a particular candidate
or group of candidates but have asked that the contributions be sent to the company. Then
the company takes all of the contributions to the candidate or candidates, clearly indicating
that the contributions are from the firm’s stockholders. This technique is called bundling.

The most direct and personal involvement in the political environment is achieved at the
third level—aggressive organizational involvement—where managers become personally
involved in developing public policy. Some executives are asked to sit on important task
forces charged with writing legislation that will affect the firm or the firm’s industry. When
state legislatures were writing laws limiting the opportunities for corporate raiders to acquire
unwilling companies in their states, the legislators turned to corporate general counsels, the
company attorneys, to help draft the laws. Another example of aggressive organizational
involvement is provided by The Business Roundtable, described earlier in this chapter.

Managing the Political Environment

In many organizations, the task of managing political activity falls to the department of
public affairs or government relations. The role of the public affairs department is to man-
age the firm’s interactions with governments at all levels and to promote the firm’s inter-
ests in the political process. (Public relations, discussed in Chapter 19, is a different
business function.) The creation of public affairs units is a global trend, with many compa-
nies in Canada, Australia, and Europe developing sophisticated public affairs operations.27

27 The global patterns of public affairs practice are documented in Journal of Public Affairs, published by Henry Stewart Pub-
lishing beginning in 2001. For an excellent review of public affairs development around the world, see Craig S. Fleisher and
Natasha Blair, “Surveying the Field: Status and Trends Affecting Public Affairs across Australia, Canada, the EU, and the U.S.,”
in Assessing, Managing and Maximizing Public Affairs Performance, Management Handbook series, ed. Craig S. Fleisher
(Washington, DC: Public Affairs Council, 1997).

Level 3 Aggressive Organizational Involvement—direct and personal

• Executive participation
• Involvement with industry working groups and task forces
• Public policy development

Level 2 Moderate Organizational Involvement—indirect yet personal

• Organizational lobbyist
• Employee grassroots involvement
• Stockholders and customers encouraged to become involved

Level 1 Limited Organizational Involvement—indirect and impersonal

• Contribution to political action committee
• Support of a trade association or industry activities

Levels of Business
Political Involvement

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As shown in Exhibit 8.C, nearly all of the most frequently performed activities by public
affairs officers or departments involve a political action tactic and attention has remained
relatively stable for most of these political activities since 2005.

Most companies have a senior manager or executive to lead the public affairs depart-
ment. This manager is often a member of the company’s senior management committee,
providing expertise about the company’s major strategy and policy decisions. The size of
the department and the support staff varies widely among companies, but more than half
reported an increase in budget and staffing since 2011. Many companies assign employees
from other parts of the business to work on public affairs issues and to help plan, coordi-
nate, and execute public affairs activities. In this way, the formulation and implementation
of the policies and programs developed by a company’s public affairs unit are closely
linked to the primary business activities of the firm.

Over one-third of the heads of public affairs departments report directly to the CEO,
while others report to the firm’s general counsel. Most work out of company headquarters;
most of the rest—particularly those whose work focuses on government relations—work
in Washington, DC. The typical public affairs executive spends most of the day direct
lobbying with federal or state politicians, hosting visits by politicians to the company’s
locations, attending funding raising activities, or participating in coalition building. Over
70 percent of the public affairs officers reported that funding for international public affairs
activities increased over the past 3 years.28

Business Political Action: A Global Challenge

Most of the discussion so far in the chapter has focused on business political activity in
the United States. As more companies conduct business abroad, it is critical that managers
be aware of the opportunities for and restrictions on business involvement in the political
processes in other countries. Other societies and governments also struggle with issues

Corporate Public Affairs Activities

Source: Foundation for Public Affairs, The State of Corporate Public Affairs, 2014–15 (2014), based on a survey of 110 companies.
Used by permission.

Exhibit 8.C

Activities Conducted within the
Public Affairs Department

Percent of
Companies, 2005

Percent of
Companies, 2014

Federal government relations 95% 96

State government relations 85 92

Issues management 82 85

Local government relations 79 81

Business/trade association oversight 75 92

Political action committee 83 80

Coalitions 71 90

Grassroots/grasstops 75 79

28 Foundation for Public Affairs, The State of Corporate Public Affairs, 2014–2015 (Washington, DC: Foundation for Public
Affairs, 2014).

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of participation in the political environment, campaign financing, and maintaining a fair
ethical climate throughout the public policy process. The following example focuses on
lobbying and constituency-building tactics:

In 2015, Google was embroiled in an escalating EU antitrust case and the Right To
Be Forgotten controversy (the subject of a case study at the end of this book and
also discussed in Chapter 12). The firm doubled its direct lobbying expenditures in
Europe in 2013 to nearly Ꞓ4 million (about $4.3 million). By comparison, Google
spent $16.8 million lobbying in the United States. Other U.S. technology firms
increased their political activities in Europe. Microsoft belonged to 33 European
trade associations. By comparison, Deutsche Telekom, a German telecommunica-
tions company, maintained 13 trade association memberships, while Axel Springer,
the leading digital publisher in Europe, belonged to only four.

StandWithUs, a pro-Israeli American advocacy group closely tied to the Israeli
government, opened up an office in China in 2015. Announcing that China was “a
country in which we can make a difference,” StandWithUs set about correcting
what it characterized as “misinformation in the Chinese media about Israel.” Their
approach was focused on “utilizing social media, university programs, and network-
ing events” to better connect with the next generation of Chinese political leader-
ship and the Chinese media.29

In Japan, a more pluralistic political environment than China’s characterizes the pub-
lic policy process. The major actors are members of big business, agriculture, and labor.
These special interest groups are quite powerful and influential. Some of the largest inter-
est groups support more than a few hundred candidates in each important election and
provide them with large financial contributions. The Kiedanren, or federation of economic
organizations, is mostly concerned with Japanese big business, but other interest groups
promote the concerns of small and medium-sized businesses, such as barbers, cosme-
ticians, dry cleaners, innkeepers, and theater owners. Some political influence is in the
hands of smaller groups such as the teachers union (Nikkyoso), Japan Medical Association,
employers association (Nikkeiren), and a labor union (Rengo).30

Although political alliances and favoritism appears around the world, in varying
degrees, there have been efforts to promote fairness in the electoral process, control the
rapid rise in the costs of campaigning, enhance the role of political parties in elections, and
encourage grassroots participation by various societal groups.

Since 1999, the Global Electoral Organization (GEO) has brought together more
than 300 of the world’s top election officials and democracy advocates to celebrate
“transparency in the election process.” In 2011, the GEO met in Botswana, Africa,
where delegates from western and eastern Europe, central Asia, the Middle East,
North America, and Africa discussed the most critical issues in election administra-
tion, including how to resolve election disputes, the role of the media in elections,
electoral reform, engaging electoral stakeholders, and tracking money in political
campaigns. One conference delegate explained, “I think standards are changing and
politicians will have to recognize this—that as we are now in the 21st century, pub-
lic opinion is applying different standards to politics, to politicians, to political

29 “U.S. Tech Firms Increase EU Lobbying Efforts,” The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2015,; and “An Israeli
Lobby in China?” The Diplomat, April 30, 2015,
30 Ryan Beaupre and Patricia Malone, “Interest Groups and Politics in Japan,” woolley/JAPANpolitics/

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parties. They’re not allowed to do things they were doing in the 19th and 20th cen-
turies. People have high expectations, high demands, and they will keep politicians

Political action by business—whether to influence government policy or the outcome
of an election—is natural in a democratic, pluralistic society. In the United States, business
has a legitimate right to participate in the political process, just as consumers, labor unions,
environmentalists, and others do. One danger arising from corporate political activity is
that corporations may wield too much power. As businesses operate in different commu-
nities and countries, it is important that ethical norms and standards guide managers as
they deal with political issues. If corporate power tips the scales against other interests in
society, both business and society may lose. Whether it is in the media-rich arena of elec-
toral politics or the corridors of Congress where more traditional lobbying prevails, busi-
ness leaders must address the issues of how to manage relationships with government and
special interests in society in ethically sound ways. Ultimately, business has an important
long-term stake in a healthy, honest political system.

31 “Credible Elections for Democracy,” Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance,

∙ Some believe that businesses should be involved in politics because their economic stake
in government decisions is great and they have a right to participate, just as do other
stakeholders in a pluralistic political system. But others believe that businesses are too
big, powerful, and selfish, and that they wield too much influence in the political arena.

∙ There are three political strategies: information, financial incentives, and constituen-
cy-building. Some firms implement strategies as needed, on an issue-by-issue basis,
while other firms have a long-term, ongoing political strategy approach.

∙ Some of the political action tactics available for business include lobbying, direct
communications, expert witness testimony, political action committee contributions,
economic leverage, advocacy advertising and public relations, trade association
involvement, legal challenges, and encouraging the involvement of other stakeholders.

∙ Businesses manage their government interactions through a public affairs department.
Most public affairs officers report to the CEO or some high-level official, although how
these departments are structured is widely varied.

∙ The differing national rules and practices governing political activity make business’s
political involvement complex in the global environment. Many governments, like the
United States, are trying to restrict lobbying or political contributions or are trying to
make the political process more transparent.


Key Terms soft money, 167
super PACs, 166
The Business Roundtable,
trade associations, 172

advocacy advertising, 172
bundling, 174
Citizens United decision,
corporate political
strategy, 160
dark money, 168

economic leverage, 170
lobbying, 161
political action committees
(PACs), 165
public affairs departments,
revolving door, 163

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Resources The Business Roundtable Common Cause—government data center Lobbying Disclosure, U.S. House of Representatives National Center for Policy Analysis National Federation of Independent Businesses PoliticsOnline: News, Tools & Strategies Public Affairs Council Public Disclosure Commission U.S. Federal Election Commission

Discussion Case: Stop Online Piracy Act—A Political Battle
between Old and New Media

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives
in 2011, along with a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property
Act (PIPA). If passed, SOPA would give the owners of film, music, or other intellectual
property new tools to protect themselves from online piracy or theft. They could sue to
force Internet service providers, search engines, payment processors, and advertisement
networks to block or stop doing business with websites linked to online piracy. Business
was split on the proposed law. The Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording
Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—considered “old
media”—supported SOPA. But online companies, such as AOL, Twitter, Google, Face-
book, Yahoo!, eBay, and others—the “new media”—opposed it. As one blogger remarked,
this could become “the biggest controversy in 2012.”
Old media proponents argued that the SOPA legislation was needed since rogue web-
sites steal America’s innovative and creative products by attracting more than 53 million
visits per year, leading to unauthorized downloads of music, films, and books and threat-
ening more than 19 million American jobs in creative industries. More than 400 businesses
and organizations, many from the entertainment or publishing industries, collectively
contributed $91 million to congressional lobbying efforts in support of SOPA. This was
the most the entertainment industry had ever spent on a lobbying effort. Other supporters
turned to social media and sent out tweets advocating the necessity of SOPA.
Opponents of SOPA, by contrast, argued that “the bill, as drafted, would expose law-
abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights
of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of Web sites,” accord-
ing to a letter sent to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees by Goggle,
Facebook, Yahoo!, and eBay. Several Internet companies proposed an alternative bill that
would punish foreign websites that engaged in copyright infringement through international
trade law. “We have a chance to reset the legislative table to find out what kind of legislation
is needed,” said Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a trade group com-
prised mostly of Internet companies. “We have an opportunity to step back, recalibrate and
understand what the problem is.” Google’s director of public policy added, “Like others, we

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believe Congress wants to get this right, and we know there are targeted and smart ways to
shut down foreign rogue Web sites without asking U.S. companies to censor the Internet.”
The new media organizations introduced novel political strategies to combat the act.
Critics created a “Censorship US” day and its website encouraged political protest using
social media tactics. In January 2012,, a social news site, was joined by other
Internet sites, including the politically oriented, the popular technology and
culture blog BoingBoing, and the Internet humor site Cheezburger Network, for a day-long,
sitewide blackout to protest SOPA. Wikipedia, the world’s free online encyclopedia, was
dark for a day except for a short paragraph urging users to protest SOPA on the ground it
could “fatally damage the free and open Internet.” (Google, Facebook, and Twitter declined
to participate in the blackout, despite their public opposition to SOPA. Some criticized the
companies, accusing them of being unwilling to sacrifice a day’s worth of revenue.)
The critics of SOPA also undertook more traditional political efforts, such as a letter
writing campaign, sending of e-mails, and making telephone calls to various influential
members of Congress. Facebook hired former a White House press secretary, Joe Lock-
hart, to push the company’s opposition in Congress. Goggle reportedly spent $5 million in
the first quarter of 2012 to combat SOPA (a 240 percent increase from Google’s lobbying
spending in the first quarter of 2011), with Microsoft spending $1.8 million, and Amazon
and Apple $500,000 each during the same period.
The Stop Online Piracy Act “awakened the entire world,” said a Harvard law professor.
“They are realizing just how big this fight was becoming.” In response, many in Congress
reversed their initial position in support of SOPA. “Thanks for all the calls, e-mails and
tweets. I will be opposing #SOPA and #PIPA,” tweeted Senator Jeff Merkley. Later, Sena-
tor Grassley, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, withdrew his support
for a bill he helped write.
Political analysts commented that the new media’s protests seemed to have worked.
Initially 81 members of Congress supported the bill, compared with only 25 legislators
opposed (the rest were undecided), but crumbling support may have contributed to Sen-
ator Harry Reid’s announcement in January 2012 that the Senate’s vote on the SOPA
counterpart, PIPA, would be delayed. The House quickly followed, announcing that the
House Judiciary Committee would postpone consideration of the legislation “until there is
wider agreement on a solution.” The committee’s chair, Lamar Smith, commented, “I have
heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation
to address the problem on online piracy.” Three years later, no new legislation had been
introduced in either the House or Senate.

Sources: “Google, Facebook Warn against New US Piracy Legislation,” BBC News: Technology, November 16, 2011,; “Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle,” The New York Times, January 15, 2012,; “Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): 2012’s Biggest Controversy-to-be?” Toonari Post, January 16, 2012,; “In Fight over Piracy Bills, New Economy Rises against Old,” The New York Times, January 18, 2012,; “Wikipedia Dark, Google Lobbies in Protest of Anti-piracy Bill,”, January 18, 2012,; “PIPA Vote and SOPA Hearing Pushed Off as Copyright Bills’ Congressional Support Collapses,” Forbes,
January 20, 2012,; and “Under Scrutiny, Google Spends Record Amount on Lobbying,” The New York
Times—Bits, April 23, 2102,


1. Which of the political tactics discussed in this chapter are evident in this case?
2. Why were the political tactics used by the “new media” so effective in this case?
3. Would the effectiveness of these tactics vary, depending on the political issue at stake?
4. What can traditional companies learn from the new forms of political activity described

in this case?

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Business and the Natural

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Sustainable Development
and Global Business
The world community faces unprecedented ecological challenges in the 21st century, including cli-
mate change, resource scarcity, and threats to biodiversity. Many political and business leaders have
embraced the idea of sustainable development, calling for economic development without depleting
the natural capital on which future generations depend. A critical task in coming decades for govern-
ment policymakers, civil society organizations, corporate leaders, and entrepreneurial innovators will
be to find ways to meet simultaneously both economic and environmental goals.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 9-1 Understanding how business and society interact within the natural environment.

LO 9-2 Defining sustainable development.

LO 9-3 Recognizing the ways in which population growth, inequality, and economic development interact
with the world’s ecological crisis.

LO 9-4 Examining common environmental issues that are shared by all nations and businesses.

LO 9-5 Analyzing the steps both large and small businesses can take globally to reduce ecological dam-
age and promote sustainable development.

LO 9-6 Describing the leading global codes of environmental conduct.

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On the 20th anniversary of the first World Summit on Sustainable Development, represen-
tatives of the world’s nations gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their goal was to take a
hard look at how far the world had come in the previous two decades and what needed to
be done, moving forward, to address the urgent need for sustainable development. Their
2012 report, The Future We Want, affirmed a commitment to lifting the world’s people out
of poverty without hurting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To do
so, the report reasoned, would require progress on many fronts, including promoting sus-
tainable patterns of production and consumption and tackling the daunting challenges of
accelerating climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and water scarcity.1

Of the many changes that have occurred since the first Earth Summit, one of the most
striking has been the involvement of businesses, both large and small, from all over the globe,
in the pursuit of sustainability. In 1992, a few visionary business organizations had met
alongside world leaders to consider the implications, for them, of the conference proceedings.
Now, nearly a quarter century later, companies of all types have embraced the challenges of
operating within the limits of the Earth’s natural systems. Many have recognized the cost sav-
ings associated with operating more efficiently, the opportunities to serve consumer markets
in emerging economies, the benefits of reducing regulatory risk, and the competitive advan-
tages of innovation in sustainable technology. Consider the following examples:

∙ In 2015, Nike reported on its website that its remarkable new athletic shoe, the Flyknit,
was made with 80 percent less waste than conventional designs. Constructed from syn-
thetic yarn and fashioned by a high-tech knitting machine, the Flyknit’s upper was made
in a single continuous piece, rather than by stitching together dozens of odd-shaped cloth
and leather pieces as in a typical shoe. The shoe offered many advantages to athletes,
including its light weight and superior comfort. But an important added benefit was that
the product was much more sustainable. Nike’s vice president of footwear innovation
called the Flyknit a “trifecta of performance and style and sustainability benefits.”2

∙ Taylor Guitars makes high-end acoustic and electric guitars, played by such well-
known musicians as Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz, and Dave Matthews. To assure its sup-
ply of ebony, a hardwood that grows in tropical rain forests and is used to make fret
boards, the company bought a saw mill in Cameroon, West Africa. Taylor Guitars
quickly ended the wasteful practice of cutting down 10 ebony trees to find one with
solid black wood, which had stressed the forest and endangered remaining supplies.
“Our vision was to transform the way that ebony is harvested, processed, and sold,”
said Bob Taylor, the president of the company, in 2014. “To accomplish this, we
assumed the role of guardian of the forest, and we operate with the philosophy to use
what the forest gives us.”3

∙ In 2014, Hertz, the rental car company, introduced an innovative method of car washing
at 3,700 locations in Europe and the United States that used no water at all. Instead of
hosing down each vehicle, employees sprayed it with eight ounces of a concentrated,
biodegradable cleaning solution and wiped it down with a microfiber towel. The pro-
cess saved 130 million gallons of water a year, as well as the energy needed to heat it.
“Managing one of the largest car rental fleets in the world requires a significant amount

1 “Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development,” Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20–22, 2012, at
2 “The Extraordinary Future of Shoes,” July 22, 2014,; and “Flyknit: More Haste, Less Waste,”
3 “The Crelicam Mill in Cameroon,”; and Bob Taylor, “Remarks at the
Remarks at the 15th Annual Awards for Corporate Excellence,”

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of car washing,” said Hertz’s CEO. “Moving to a waterless car wash system is [an]
innovative way Hertz is addressing both its sustainability and business needs.”4

These examples suggest some of the tremendous creativity that businesses were bring-
ing to the ecological challenges of the 21st century. Could businesses, governments, and
society, working together, put the global economy on a more sustainable course? This
chapter will describe the major sustainability challenges facing society and both the risks
and opportunities these challenges present to businesses globally. The following chapter
will focus on specific areas of government regulation and the ways in which businesses, in
the United States and other countries, have sought to manage for sustainability.

Business and Society in the Natural Environment

Business, society, and the environment are deeply interrelated. Business and society operate
within, and depend on, the natural environment. The extraordinary planet on which we live
provides the abundant resources humans use to thrive, but it also imposes constraints. We
have only one Earth, and its resources are finite. Natural capital refers to the world’s stocks of
natural assets, including its geology, soil, air, water, and all living things.5 These assets make
human life possible. For human society to survive over time it must operate sustainably, in a
way that does not destroy or deplete these natural resources for future generations. This fun-
damental truth confers on business leaders both great challenges and great opportunities.

Chapter 1 introduced the idea of systems theory and explained how businesses cannot
be understood in isolation, but only in relationship to the broader society in which they
operate. This idea can be extended to the relationship between business and society, on
one hand, and the natural environment, on the other. In this view, business and society can
be most fully understood in relationship to the broader natural environment in which they
are embedded and with which they interact. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 9.1.
The well-known image of the Earth as seen from space—a blue-and-green globe, girdled

4 “Hertz Goes Green with Waterless Car Washing,” January 20, 2014,
5 “What is Natural Capital,” See also Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins,
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999).

Business, Society,
and the Natural
Environment: An
Interactive System

Society Business

Natural Environment

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by white clouds, floating in blackness—dramatically shows us that we share a single, uni-
fied natural system, or ecosystem. Preserving our common ecosystem and assuring its
continued use is an urgent imperative for governments, business, and society. As KPMG
International stated in its report, Expect the Unexpected, “The central challenge of our age
must be to decouple human progress from resource use and environmental deterioration.”6

Sustainable Development
The need for balance between economic progress and environmental protection is captured
in the concept of sustainable development. This term refers to development that “meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
own needs” or, more simply, “ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for
generations to come.”7 The concept includes two core ideas:

∙ Protecting the environment will require economic development. Poverty is an underly-
ing cause of environmental degradation. People who lack food, shelter, and basic ame-
nities misuse resources just to survive. For this reason, environmental protection will
require providing a decent standard of living for all the world’s citizens.

∙ But economic development must be accomplished sustainably, that is, in a way that con-
serves and regenerates the Earth’s resources for future generations. It cannot occur at the
expense of degrading the forests, farmland, water, and air that must continue to support life
on this planet. We must leave the Earth in as good shape—or better shape—than we found it.

Meeting the goal of sustainability is like trying to solve an extraordinarily complex
puzzle, in which businesses, governments, civil society, and individuals must work together
to achieve common goals.

At its core, sustainable development is about fairness—a central tenet of ethics, as
explained in Chapter 5. Fairness requires that the benefits and burdens of an action be distrib-
uted equitably, according to an accepted rule. Sustainable development requires an equitable
distribution of the benefits gained from the use of natural resources for both current gener-
ations (the developing world countries should receive its fair share along with the countries
in the developed world) and across generations (the present generation should not gain at the
expense of future generations). This can only occur if governments and business leaders work
to promote economic development that does not further degrade the environment. The very
nature of consumption itself will need to change as people come to emphasize the quality of
their lives over the quantity of goods they own, and innovation in a dynamic market economy
will need to find new ways to meet human aspirations in a more resource-efficient manner.

What would a sustainable society look like? Of course, there are many paths to sustainabil-
ity, and there is no way to know for sure what the future will hold. But, one vision of what might
be possible is provided by Masdar, a new city in the Persian Gulf that is being designed from
the ground up as a completely sustainable community. Masdar is described in Exhibit 9.A.

Threats to the Earth’s Ecosystem
Humanity has entered a new geological era, called the Anthropocene (the period in which
human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment). Since
the Industrial Revolution, humans have become a powerful force, altering the face of
the planet and rivaling the forces of nature herself—glaciers, volcanoes, asteroids, and

6 “Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World,” KPMG International, 2012.
7 World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 8;
“Sustainable Development: The UK Government’s Approach,”

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earthquakes—in impact. Human beings have literally rerouted rivers, moved mountains,
and burned vast forests. By the early part of the 21st century, human society had trans-
formed about half of the Earth’s ice-free surface and made a major impact on most of
the rest. In many areas, as much land was used by transportation systems as by agricul-
ture. The climate itself had been profoundly altered by emissions of global warming gases.
Although significant natural resources—fresh water, fertile land, and forest—remained,
exploding populations and rapid economic development had reached the point where, by
most measures, the demands of human society had already exceeded the carrying capacity
of the Earth’s ecosystem.

These rapid changes pose severe threats to many businesses. They face limited supplies
of critical resources, unpredictable weather changes, and increased political risk, among
many other challenges. Yet the environmental problems faced by society also present busi-
ness with great opportunities. Established firms and innovative entrepreneurs who can
figure out, for example, how to build offices and houses that are more energy-efficient,
produce energy without irreversibly altering the climate, or devise systems to recycle and
reuse obsolete electronics, can both help society and enjoy great commercial success.

Forces of Change
Pressure on the Earth’s resource base is becoming increasingly severe. Three critical fac-
tors have combined to accelerate the ecological crisis facing the world community and to
make sustainable development more difficult: population growth, world income inequality,
and the rapid industrialization of many developing nations.

The Population Explosion

A major driver of environmental degradation is the exponential growth of the world’s
population. A population that doubled every 50 years, for example, would be said to be
growing exponentially. Many more people would be added during the second 50 years
than during the first, even though the rate of growth would stay the same. Just 10,000
years ago, the Earth was home to no more than 10 million humans, scattered in small set-
tlements. For many thousands of years, population growth was gradual. Around 1950, the

Masdar: A Completely Sustainable Community

Masdar City is a planned development within the boundaries of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Persian Gulf
nation United Arab Emirates (UAE) and, by Fortune Magazine’s estimate, the wealthiest city in the world.
Separated from the rest of Abu Dhabi by a perimeter wall, Masdar has been conceived as the world’s first
completely sustainable community—and a preview of what a “greener” society might look like. In this futur-
istic city, no regular cars will be allowed. Rather, people will travel from place to place in a state-of-the-art
light rail transit system or in personal rapid transit pods that will zip through underground tunnels. Buildings
will be constructed of sustainably harvested wood and other environmentally friendly materials. The city’s
all-renewable energy will come from a solar power plant and a wind farm outside the perimeter walls. Eighty
percent of the city’s water, which will come from a desalinization plant, will be recycled; and waste will be
incinerated or turned into fertilizer. The city will house both people and clean-tech enterprises, along with the
postgradute Masdar Institute for Science and Technology. The entire project, which will cost the government
and other investors around $20 billion, is slated for completion by 2025.
Why would a nation that is home to one of the largest oil companies in the world want to develop an
urban model of clean technology and innovation? Recognizing that its oil reserves will eventually run out, the
UAE has decided to position itself as a global leader in the transition to a non–carbon-based economy.


Exhibit 9.A

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world population reached 2.5 billion. World population crossed the 6 billion mark in 1999
and the 7 billion mark in late 2011. The United Nations estimates that the population will
reach almost 11 billion by 2100. To gain some perspective on these figures, consider that
a person born in 1950 who lives to be 75 years old will have seen the world’s population
increase by more than 5 billion people.

Population growth in the coming decades will not be distributed equally. In the indus-
trialized countries, especially in Europe, population growth has already slowed. Almost all
of the world’s population growth over the next century is predicted to be in less developed
countries, especially in Africa, as shown in Figure 9.2.

The world’s burgeoning population will put increasing strain on the Earth’s resources.
Each additional person uses raw materials and adds pollutants to the land, air, and water. The
world’s total industrial production would have to quintuple over the next 40 years just to main-
tain the same standard of living that people have now, if technology remains unchanged. Pro-
tecting the environment in the face of rapid population growth is very difficult. For example,
in some parts of western Africa, population growth has put great pressure on available farm-
land, which is not allowed to lie fallow. Because much of the available firewood has already
been cut, people use livestock dung for fuel instead of fertilizer. The result has been a deep-
ening cycle of poverty, as more and more people try to live off less and less productive land.

World Income Inequality and Economic Development

A second important cause of environmental degradation is the inequality between rich and
poor. Although economic development has raised living standards for many, large numbers
of the world’s people continue to live in severe poverty. As explained in Chapter 4, inequal-
ity can be measured in two ways, by wealth and income. According to the most recent
estimates, around 2.2 billion people (slightly under a third of the world’s population) had
incomes below the international “moderate” poverty line of $2 a day. These people, most
of them in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, lived very near the
margin of subsistence. They had only a tiny fraction of the goods and services enjoyed by
those in the industrialized nations.8

8 Current data may be found at

Population of the
World and Major
Areas, 1950–2100

Source: United Nations
Population Division, “World
Population Prospects: The
2012 Revision: Key Findings
and Advance Tables,” 2013.
The projections represent the
medium-range scenario. Other
estimates are higher and lower.
All estimates are available at 








1950 1980 2013 2050 2100








) Oceania



North America



Latin America

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Share of the World’s
Private Consumption
by Income Fifths

Source: “Consumption
and Consumerism,” www., based on data
from World Bank Development
Indicators 2008.



Middle 60%


Richest 20%


Some of the most extreme poverty is found on the outskirts of rapidly growing
cities in developing countries. In many parts of the world, people have moved to
urban areas in search of work. Often, they must live in slums, in makeshift dwell-
ings without sanitation or running water. In Manila in the Philippines, a sprawling
metropolitan area of 12 million people, more than a third of the inhabitants live in
such shantytowns. Hundreds died when a garbage dump nearby shifted, burying
scores of people. Today, more than half of all humans live in cities—many recent
migrants to so-called megacities of 10 million or more, such as Lagos, Jakarta, and
Mumbai—that lack adequate housing or infrastructure to support them.9

The world’s income is not distributed equally. The gap between people in the richest and
poorest countries is large and getting larger. In 2015, the income of the average American,
for example, was 31 times the income of the average Vietnamese and 85 times that of the
average Tanzanian. Figure 9.3 illustrates the distribution of private consumption among
the world’s people, one measure of inequality. The 20 percent of people in the highest-in-
come countries consumed 77 percent of world’s good and services, while the 20 percent
in the poorest countries consumed just 1.5 percent. The 60 percent in the middle-income
countries consumed 22 percent.

Inequality is an environmental problem because countries (and people) at either extreme
of income tend to behave in more environmentally destructive ways than those in the mid-
dle. People in the richest countries consume far more fossil fuels, wood, and meat, for
example. People in the poorest countries, for their part, often misuse natural resources just
to survive; for example, cutting down trees for fuel to cook food and keep warm.

A final source of pressure on the Earth’s resource base is the rapid industrialization
of many countries. Many parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America are developing at a

9 Data on urban population trends are available at

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rapid pace. This is positive because it is reducing poverty and slowing population growth.
But economic development has also contributed to the growing ecological crisis. Industry
requires energy, much of which comes from burning fossil fuels, releasing pollutants, and
disrupting the climate. The agricultural “green” revolution, although greatly increasing
crop yields in many parts of the world, has caused contamination by pesticides, herbicides,
and chemical fertilizers. Development is often accompanied by rising incomes, bringing
higher rates of both consumption and waste. In many instances, environmental regulations
have lagged the pace of development.

China dramatically illustrates the tight connection between rapid economic devel-
opment and environmental risk. China is one of the fastest-growing economies in
the world, expanding at a rate approaching 10 percent annually on average over the
past 30 years (although its economy has recently slowed somewhat). The evidence
of industrialization is everywhere, from skyscrapers under construction, to cars
crowding the streets, to factories operating 24/7 to produce goods for export. Yet a
major consequence has been increased pollution. Ninety percent of China’s cities
fail to meet national air quality standards, according to a recent report; in Beijing,
residents can rarely see nearby mountains because of bad air. In 2015, a documen-
tary film decrying the problem, called “Under the Dome,” drew more than 150
million online viewers before the Chinese authorities abruptly censored it. None-
theless, government leaders said they were “determined to tackle environmental
pollution” and moved forward on efforts to strengthen regulations and promote
wind and solar power. China and other fast-growing developing nations challenge
business and society to “leapfrog” stages and move directly to cleaner technologies
and methods of production.10

The Earth’s Carrying Capacity
The Earth’s rapid population growth, people’s rising expectations, and the industrialization
of developing countries are on a collision course with a fixed barrier: the limited carrying
capacity of the Earth’s ecosystem. The world’s resource base, the air, water, soil, minerals,
and so forth, is essentially finite, or bounded. We have only one Earth; the ecosystem itself
is not growing. If human societies use up resources faster than they can be replenished, and
create waste faster than it can be dispersed, environmental devastation will be the inevita-
ble result.11 Human society is already overshooting the carrying capacity of the Earth’s
ecosystem. Just as it is possible to eat or drink too much before your body sends you a
signal to stop, so too are people and businesses using up resources and emitting pollution
at an unsustainable rate. But because of delays in feedback, society may not understand the
consequences of its actions until the damage has been done.

One method of measuring the Earth’s carrying capacity, and how far human society has
overshot it, is called the ecological footprint. This term refers to the amount of land and
water a human population needs to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its
wastes, given prevailing technology. According to the Global Footprint Network, which
maintains a public data set that is updated as new information becomes available, for each
living human being, the Earth contains 4.5 acres of biologically productive area—farmland,

10 “Hundreds of Chinese Cities Not Meeting Air Quality Standards,” The New York Times, April 21, 2015; and “This Documen-
tary Went Viral in China. Then It Was Censored. It Won’t Be Forgotten,” The Washington Post, March 16, 2015.
11 James Gustave Speth, The Bridge at the Edge of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008); and Herman E. Daly,
Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).

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forest, fresh water, and so forth. At the same time, each person has, on average, an ecolog-
ical footprint of 6.7 acres. What that means is that human society is using resources and
producing waste at a rate about one-and-a-half times above what the Earth’s ecosystem
can sustainably support. (Overshooting the Earth’s carrying capacity is possible in the
short run because people can consume resources without allowing them to regenerate, and
generate waste at a rate higher than can be absorbed or recycled.) Historical data show that
human society first exceeded world ecological capacity in the 1970s, and the gap between
the two has been widening steadily since then.

Not surprisingly, some nations and individuals have bigger ecological footprints than
others. For example, in the United States the average citizen has an ecological footprint
of 17 acres, about four times his or her share of the world’s resources. By comparison, in
Panama the average citizen’s ecological footprint is 6 acres, and in Bangladesh it is less
than 2 acres.12 These differences reflect the higher levels of consumption and less efficient
use of resources in some countries, relative to others.

Acting together, how can human society bring the Earth’s carrying capacity—and the
demands placed on it—back into balance? This is without a doubt one of the great chal-
lenges now facing the world’s people. Any solution will require change on many fronts.

∙ Technological innovation. One approach is to develop new technologies to produce
energy, food, and other necessities of human life more efficiently and with less waste.
Vast solar arrays in the desert, offshore wind turbines, or state-of-the-art utility plants
that pump carbon dioxide deep under the ground could power homes and businesses.
Genetic engineering could create more nutritious and productive crops. (Some con-
cerns about genetic engineering are explored in Chapter 11.) Energy-efficient homes
and commercial buildings could allow people to go about their lives while using fewer
of the Earth’s resources.

∙ Changing patterns of consumption. Individuals and organizations concerned about
environmental impact could decide to consume less or choose less harmful products
and services, or to buy from companies committed to sustainability in their own opera-
tions. Mobile applications, such as those developed by, now allow indi-
viduals to scan a product’s barcode in a store with their smartphones and receive instant
information on its environmental impact. They can modify their purchasing decisions,
based on this knowledge. In a consumer society, when many people decide to reduce
their personal footprints, society’s overall footprint becomes smaller. For example,
homes, workplaces, and places of entertainment could be built closer to each other and
to public transit, so people could get where they needed to go with less wasted energy.13

∙ “Getting the prices right.” Some economists have called for public policies that impose
taxes on environmentally harmful products or activities. For example, when an indi-
vidual bought gasoline—or a utility burned coal to make electricity—they would be
charged an added carbon tax. Because prices would reflect true environmental costs,
individuals and firms would have an incentive to make less harmful choices. Along
these lines, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has argued for “a fixed, dura-
ble, long-term price signal that raises the price of dirty fuels and thereby creates sus-
tained consumer demand for, and sustained private sector investment in, renewables.”14

12 The most recent data are available from the Global Footprint Network, Individuals can estimate
their own ecological footprint by taking a quiz available at the “personal footprint” link at this website.
13 A discussion of sustainable urban planning and design may be found in Jonathan Barnett et al., Smart Growth in a Chang-
ing World (Washington DC: American Planning Association, 2007).
14 “Is It Weird Enough Yet?” The New York Times, September 13, 2011.

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Some contemporary thinkers have gone even further and suggested that what is needed
is nothing less than a completely new set of values about what is truly important. In this
view, society needs a new “sustainability consciousness” that views the quality of life—not
the quantity of things—as the most worthy goal of human aspiration. David Korten has
stated this view eloquently in his book, The Great Turning:

The Great Turning begins with a cultural and spiritual awakening—a turning in cul-
tural values from money and material excess to life and spiritual fulfillment, from a
belief in our limitations to a belief in our possibilities, and from fearing our differ-
ences to rejoicing in our diversity. . . . The values shift of the cultural turning leads
us to redefine wealth—to measure it by the health of our families, communities,
and natural environment.15

Technological innovation, smart consumption, and accurate accounting all hold the
promise of helping human society realize this vision of the future.

Global Environmental Issues

A commons is a shared resource, such as land, air, or water that a group of people use col-
lectively. The paradox of the commons is that if all individuals attempt to maximize their
own private advantage in the short term, the commons may be destroyed, and all users,
present and future, lose. The only solution is restraint, either voluntary or through mutual
agreement.16 The tragedy of the commons—that freedom in a commons brings ruin to
all—is illustrated by the following parable.

There was once a village on the shore of a great ocean. Its people made a good living
from the rich fishing grounds that lay offshore, the bounty of which seemed inex-
haustible. Some of the cleverest fishermen began to experiment with new ways to
catch more fish, borrowing money to buy bigger and better equipped boats. Since it
was hard to argue with success, others copied their new techniques. Soon fish began
to be harder to find, and their average size began to decline. Eventually, the fishery
collapsed, bringing economic calamity to the village. A wise elder commented, “You
see, the fish were not free after all. It was our folly to act as if they were.”17

In a sense, we live today in a global commons, in which many natural resources, like the
fishing grounds in this parable, are used collectively. Some environmental problems are
inherently global in scope and require international cooperation. Typically these are issues
pertaining to the global commons, that is, resources shared by all nations. Five global prob-
lems that will have major consequences for business and society are climate change, ozone
depletion, resource scarcity, decline of biodiversity, and threats to the world’s oceans.

Climate Change
A critically important challenge facing the world community is climate change. This term
refers to changes in the Earth’s climate caused by increasing concentrations of carbon diox-
ide and other pollutants produced by human activity. These have caused the average sur-
face temperature of the Earth to rise over time, a phenomenon known as global warming.

15 David Korten, The Great Turning (San Francisco: Berrett Kohler, 2006).
16 Garrett Hardin, “Tragedy of the Commons,” Science 162 (December 1968), pp. 1243–48.
17 Abridgment of “The Story of a Fishing Village,” from 1994 Information Please Environmental Almanac. Copyright © 1993 by
World Resources Institute. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Co. All rights reserved.

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But because these gases also have a variety of other complex effects on the climate, scien-
tists often prefer the more general term climate change.

The Earth’s atmosphere contains carbon dioxide and other trace gases that, like the
glass panels in a greenhouse, prevent some of the heat reflected from the Earth’s surface
from escaping into space, as illustrated in Figure 9.4. Without this so-called greenhouse
effect, the Earth would be too cold to support life. Since the Industrial Revolution, the
concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by more than 40 percent,
largely due to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal. According to
the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the
world’s leading atmospheric scientists, since 1880 the Earth has warmed by between 0.7
and 1.1 degrees Celsius. (One degree Celsius equals 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit com-
monly used in the United States.) Each of the past three decades has been the warmest of
any in the last century and a half. The IPCC found that climatic warming was “unequivo-
cal” and “extremely likely” due to human-generated greenhouse gases, which were at their
highest atmospheric levels in at least 800,000 years.18

The possible causes of global warming are numerous. The burning of fossil fuels, which
releases carbon dioxide, is the leading contributor. Increased emissions of nitrous oxides,
resulting in part from the manufacture and use of synthetic fertilizers, also contributes. But
consider the following additional causes.

∙ Black carbon. Recent scientific research has shown that black carbon—the sooty smoke
that is created by the incomplete combustion of diesel engines, wildfires, and cookstoves
fueled by dung, wood, and charcoal—is the second largest contributor to climate change,

18 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report—Summary for Policymakers,” 2014.
A complete set of materials may be found at IPCC’s website,

Global Warming


Infrared energy from the
sun reflects o� the
Earth’s surface and is
trapped in the atmosphere
by greenhouse gases,
warming the surface.



Greenhouse gases include
carbon dioxide, methane,
nitrous oxides, and
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).


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responsible for as much as 18 percent of global warming. Black carbon, which can travel
thousands of miles in the atmosphere, absorbs heat and settles on glaciers, speeding
up melting. A global alliance to reduce black carbon and simultaneously reduce global
warming and advance economic development by promoting the use of clean cookstoves
in developing nations is described in the discussion case at the end of this chapter.

∙ Deforestation. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the
atmosphere. Deforestation—cutting down and not replacing trees—thus contributes to
higher levels of carbon dioxide. Scientists have estimated that about half of all original
forests have already been cut. Burning forests to clear land for grazing or agriculture
also releases carbon directly into the atmosphere as a component of smoke. And when
trees are removed, their leaves do not shade the ground, leading to still more warming.
Large-scale deforestation thus contributes in several ways to climate change.

∙ Beef production. Cattle ranching contributes to global warming in several ways. Meth-
ane, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced as a by-product of the digestion of ruminants,
and feed production and manure processing have additional climate impacts. According
to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock are responsi-
ble for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, measured in carbon equivalents; beef
and dairy production account for three-fifths of this amount. As the world’s economies
develop, people tend to eat more meat; the world’s beef consumption is projected to
nearly double by 2050.19

If global warming continues, the world may experience extreme heat waves, air pollution
crises, violent storms, and damaging wildfires in the 21st century. The polar ice caps may
partially melt, raising sea levels and causing flooding in low-lying coastal areas such as
Florida, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands. It may become as difficult to grow wheat in Iowa
as it is now in arid Utah. Such climate change could harm peoples’ health, leading to breath-
ing problems, epidemics of tropical diseases, and injuries from extreme weather events. It
could devastate many of the world’s economies and destroy the habitats of many species.20

The most important international treaty on global warming is the Convention on Climate
Change, first negotiated in 1992. The United Nations hosts an annual Conference of the
Parties, where representatives of virtually all the world’s nations meet to hammer out
agreements to cut the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming. The first major
breakthrough occurred in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol (named after the city in Japan
where representatives met) set limits aimed at stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the cli-
mate system. At the 2014 conference, for the first time, all participating nations agreed to
enact domestic laws to reduce carbon emissions.21 The next annual conference was sched-
uled for late 2015 in Paris, France.

Many companies—whether or not required by treaty to do so—have taken action to
reduce their impact on climate change.

CSX, a railroad, has worked aggressively to reduce its carbon emissions, invest-
ing more than $1.5 billion to lower its use of fuel. The company has adopted new
technology to provide auxiliary power to its locomotives, allowing their diesel
engines to shut down while idling. It has also trained its engineers to use the most

19 Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock: A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities (Rome: United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2013); and Creating a Sustainable Food Future (World Resources Institute, 2013).
20 Photographs of observable evidence of global warming may be found on the website of National Geographic, http://
21 “A Climate Accord Based on Global Peer Pressure,” The New York Times, December 14, 2014.

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fuel-efficient throttle settings and lubricated its rails to reduce friction. These steps,
among others, now allow CSX to move a ton of freight 500 miles on just one gallon
of diesel fuel. Commented the Carbon Disclosure Project’s CEO, “Business must
continue to forge ahead, innovate and seek out opportunities by doing more with
less. The decisions that perpetuate a legitimate, low carbon and high growth econ-
omy will bring considerable value to those that have the foresight to make them.”22

Ozone Depletion
Another global environmental challenge is ozone depletion. Ozone is a bluish gas, com-
posed of three bonded oxygen atoms, that floats in a thin layer in the stratosphere between
9 and 28 miles above the planet. Although poisonous to humans in the lower atmosphere,
ozone in the stratosphere is critical to life on Earth by absorbing dangerous ultraviolet light
from the sun. Too much ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer and damage the eyes and
immune systems of humans and other species.

Since the mid-1970s, scientists have understood that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), man-
ufactured chemicals formerly widely used as refrigerants, insulation, solvents, and propel-
lants in spray cans, could react with and destroy ozone in the upper atmosphere. This has
caused a thin spot, or hole, in the Earth’s ozone layer, particularly over Antarctica and in
the northern latitudes over Europe and North America during the summer, when the sun’s
ultraviolet rays are the strongest and pose the greatest danger. In addition to destroying the
ozone, CFCs are also greenhouse gases.

In 1987, world leaders negotiated the Montreal Protocol, agreeing to cut CFC produc-
tion; the agreement was later amended to ban CFCs, along with several other ozone- depleting
chemicals. Participating countries will have until 2030 to phase out chlorofluorohydrocar-
bons (HCFCs), related chemicals also damaging to the ozone layer. As of 2015, 197 coun-
tries, all but a tiny handful, had signed the protocol. Scientists believe that if the agreement
is honored, the ozone layer will recover by 2050.23

An ongoing problem is that HCFCs, often used as substitutes for CFCs, are them-
selves powerful greenhouse gases. (In fact, one pound of some HCFCs released into the
atmosphere has more than 2,000 times the warming impact as the same amount of carbon

The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Red Bull, normally fierce competitors,
have collaborated to find a substitute for fluorinated gases, including HCFCs,
in refrigeration units such as vending machines and convenience-store coolers.
Working in a partnership called Refrigerants Naturally!, the beverage firms have
experimented with a variety of natural refrigerants, energy-efficient fans, intelligent
controllers, and insulated glass. “Competitors working together to help address
environmental issues is definitely a strong message to the industry,” said a represen-
tative of Coca-Cola.24

Resource Scarcity: Water and Land
The Earth also faces serious challenges of resource scarcity involving both fresh water and
arable land.

22 Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP Global 500 Report 2011: Accelerating Low Carbon Growth, available online at
23 The text of the Montreal Protocol and its various amendments and a list of signatories may be found at
24 “Why Rivals Like PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Unilever and P&G Are Joining Forces,” The Guardian, October 23, 2014.

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Fresh Water Resources

Only 2.5 percent of the water on the Earth is fresh, and most of this is underground or
locked up in ice and snow. Only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the Earth’s water is in
lakes, rivers, and accessible underground supplies, and thus available for human use. Water
is, of course, renewable: Moisture evaporates from the oceans and returns to the Earth as
freshwater precipitation, replenishing used stocks. But in many areas, humans are using up
or polluting water faster than it can be replaced or naturally purified, threatening people
and businesses that depend on it. This has been especially true in developing countries.

The Ganges River supports more than 400 million Indians, providing water for
drinking, irrigation, fishing, transportation, and trade along its 1,500 mile course
from high in the Himalayan mountains to the coastal city of Kolkata (Calcutta).
Hindus believe the river to be holy, and it is the site of many religious observances.
But the Ganges is increasingly polluted, choked with raw sewage, industrial waste,
animal carcasses, and even human remains. “The [river] is the silken thread which
binds this country together. What will happen if it breaks?” asked one Indian.

All four of the world’s leading irrigators—China, India, Pakistan, and the United States—
are using groundwater faster than it is being replenished on crop-producing land.25 By one
estimate, if society were able to eliminate all pollution, capture all available fresh water, and
distribute it equitably—all of which are unlikely—demand would exceed the supply within
a hundred years. By the early 2010s, water shortages had already caused the decline of local
economies and in some cases had contributed to regional conflicts. In Africa, for example,
water disputes had flared among Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the three countries traversed
by the world’s longest river, the Nile. In the Middle East, disagreement over access to water
from the River Jordan had exacerbated conflict between Israel and Palestine. By 2030, an
estimated 3.9 billion people will be living under conditions of water scarcity.26

Arable Land

Arable (fertile) land is necessary to grow crops to feed the world’s people. Land, if prop-
erly cared for, is a renewable resource. Although the productivity of land increased through
much of the 20th century, by the 2010s much of the world’s arable land was threatened
with decline from soil erosion, loss of nutrients, and water scarcity. Worldwide, one-fifth
of irrigated land required reclamation because of salinization (excess salt) or poor drain-
age.27 In many areas, overly intensive farming practices and climate change have caused
previously arable land to turn into desert (this process is called desertification). In 2001,
a massive dust storm caused by overgrazed grasslands in China blew all the way across
the Pacific, darkening skies over North America. The United Nations has estimated that
12 million hectares of arable land are lost every year to desertification (one hectare equals
about two-and-a-half acres).28 This will prompt migration and the potential for civil unrest.

In 2013, Syngenta, a Swiss company that sells seeds and agricultural chemicals,
committed to a specific goal of improving the fertility of 10 million hectares of
farmland (about the size of Iceland) on the brink of degradation. The firm partnered

25 Sandra Postel, “Sustaining Freshwater and its Dependents,” in WorldWatch Institute, State of the World, 2013: Is Sustain-
ability Still Possible.
26 “Increasing Water Stress,” in World Economic Forum, Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015.
27 The most recent statistics may be found at the website of the United Nations Environmental Program,
28 The most recent statistics may be found at the website of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification,

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with the United Nations to launch the Soil Leadership Academy. Together with
local nongovernment organizations (NGOs), it trained growers of potatoes in
Colombia, wine grapes in Hungary, and maize in Vietnam, among others, to reduce
soil erosion by planting cover crops and limiting tillage. In 2015, the company
reported on its website that its efforts had had a positive impact on 800,000 hectares
of land, preventing and reversing degradation. “I think sustainability, over time, will
be the driving force for everybody’s business,” said Syngenta’s CEO.29

Decline of Biodiversity
Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of species and the range of their genetic
makeup. To date, approximately 1.7 million species of plants and animals have been named
and described. Many scientists believe these are but a fraction of the total. According to
recent research, the total number may be closer to 9 million, but no one knows for sure.
Scientists estimate that species extinction is now occurring at 100 to 1,000 times the nor-
mal, background rate, mainly because of pollution and the destruction of habitat by human
society. A 2014 study by the World Wildlife Fund found that populations of vertebrate
species (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) were about half of what they were
just 40 years earlier.30 Biological diversity is now at its lowest level since the disappearance
of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. Genetic diversity is vital to each species’ abil-
ity to adapt and survive and has many benefits for human society as well. By destroying
this biological diversity, we are actually undermining our survivability as a species.

A major reason for the decline in the Earth’s biodiversity is the destruction of rain for-
ests, particularly in the tropics. Rain forests are woodlands that receive at least 100 inches
of rain a year. They are the planet’s richest areas in terms of biological diversity. Rain for-
ests cover only about 7 percent of the Earth’s surface but account for somewhere between
40 and 75 percent of the Earth’s species. At the rate that the original tropical rain forests
are currently being cut, all will be gone or severely depleted within 30 years. The reasons
for destruction of rain forests include commercial logging, cattle ranching, and conversion
of forest to plantations to produce cash crops such as palm oil and soybeans for export.
Overpopulation also plays a part, as landless people clear forest to grow crops, raise live-
stock, and cut trees for firewood.

The destruction is ironic because rain forests may have more economic value standing
than cut. Rain forests are the source of many valuable products, including foods, medicines,
and fibers. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, each year develops new medicines
based on newly discovered plants from tropical areas. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has
identified 1,400 tropical forest plants with cancer-fighting properties. Moreover, rain forests
absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so their destruction worsens climate change.

Some businesses have taken important steps to conserve tropical rain forests.
Members of the Consumer Products Forum, an alliance of 400 leading companies
including Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Walmart, have adopted a goal of “zero net
deforestation” by 2020 and agreed not to buy any raw materials—such as beef, soy-
beans, palm oil, timber, and paper—whose production requires the destruction of
forest. In another initiative, in 2015 Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), a major trader
of agricultural commodities, partnered with the Forest Trust to assure it purchased
no soybeans from threatened ecosystems. This was important because much of the

29 “Growing More With Less,” Swiss Style, January 17, 2014. Syngenta’s commitments and progress toward meeting them may
be reviewed at
30 World Wildlife Fund, Living Planet: Species, Spaces, People and Places (2014).

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world’s soybean crop came from Brazil, where Amazonian rain forests were being
cleared for farming. “We’re at a critical juncture now to break the link between
agriculture, especially for soy production, and deforestation in Latin America,” said
a representative of the activist group Forest Heroes. “ADM’s announcement is a
major step forward for the soy industry.”31

The Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty first negotiated in
1992, addresses many of these issues. By 2015 it had been ratified by 195 countries.
(The United States was not among them; it declined to ratify, citing concerns with pro-
visions on intellectual property rights and financial assistance to developing countries.)
The treaty commits these countries to draw up national strategies for conservation, to
protect ecosystems and individual species, and to take steps to restore degraded areas.
It also allows countries to share in the profits from sales of products derived from their
biological resources.

Threats to Marine Ecosystems
A final issue of concern is threats to the world’s marine ecosystems. This term refers
broadly to oceans and the salt marshes, lagoons, and tidal zones that border them, as
well as the diverse communities of life that they support. Salt water covers 70 percent
of the Earth’s surface and is home to a great variety of species, from tiny plankton to the
giant blue whale, from kelp beds to mangrove forests. Marine ecosystems are important
to human society in many ways. Fish, marine mammals, and sea plants provide food and
other useful products such as fertilizer, animal feed, cooking and heating oil, medicines,
clothing, and jewelry. Healthy coastal zones protect coastlines from erosion and filter run-
off from the land. Many communities have survived for centuries off the bounty of the sea.

Today, the health of these ecosystems is increasingly threatened. Some of the key issues
include the following:

Fish populations. Oceans provide 90 percent of the world’s fish catch. The United
Nations has estimated that of the world’s marine fisheries, 90 percent are fully exploited
or overexploited, and some fisheries—such as those for cod off the Grand Banks (east-
ern United States and Canada) and for anchovies off Peru—have probably been perma-
nently destroyed by overfishing.32 Active management, such as limiting the number of
fishing boats, establishing fish quotas, or banning fishing for periods of time, has
allowed fish to regenerate in some areas.
Coral reefs. Coral reefs are limestone structures that develop from the skeletons of
aquatic life and are host to great biological diversity. Today, however, they are in decline
from pollution, oceanic warming, damage from ships, and cyanide and dynamite fish-
ing. The Nature Conservancy estimates that at their current rate of decline, 70 percent of
coral reefs will be gone by 2050.
Coastal development. Much of the world’s population growth is now concentrated in coastal
areas, often in ecologically fragile areas. In the United States, for example, 50 percent of
the population lives in counties bordering the ocean—which comprise just 17 percent of the
land. Inappropriate development can put pressure on ecologically fragile areas.33

31 “Agribusiness Giant Adopts Historic No-Deforestation Policy,” Climate Progress, April 1, 2015. The commitments of the Con-
sumer Goods Forum are reported at
32 “The State of World Fisheries and Acquaculture, 2014,”
33 Pew Charitable Trusts, “Coastal Sprawl: The Effects of Urban Development on Aquatic Ecosystems in the United States,”

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Ocean acidity. One effect of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmo-
sphere has been gradual acidification of the oceans, as seawater has absorbed excess
carbon dioxide (which becomes carbonic acid). The result has been the destruction of
aquatic life, which is often highly sensitive to acidity.34

One group of businesses whose actions directly affect the health of the oceans is the
cruise ship industry. A case describing the efforts of one company, Holland America Line,
to reduce its adverse effects on the oceans appears at the end of this book.

Response of the International Business Community

Since so many ecological challenges cross national boundaries, the international business
community has a critical role to play in addressing them. This section describes some of
the important voluntary initiatives undertaken by companies around the world to put the
principle of sustainable development into practice. Other actions by business to address
environmental challenges will be explored in Chapter 10.

Life-cycle analysis (LCA), also called life-cycle assessment, involves collecting informa-
tion on the lifelong environmental impact of a product, all the way from extraction of raw
material to design, manufacturing, distribution, use, and ultimate disposal. The aim of
life-cycle analysis is to minimize the adverse impact of a particular product at all stages,
from cradle to grave. Having this information can permit companies to make informed
choices about how to reduce a product’s footprint. For example, a Procter & Gamble
life-cycle analysis of its Tide detergent brand found that its greatest environmental impact
occurred in the home—when customers washed their clothes in hot water. The company
subsequently introduced Tide Coldwater as a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Walmart, Dell, Aloca, and other companies work through the Sustainability Consortium to
advance LCA for thousands of products.35

Industrial ecology refers to designing factories and distribution systems as if they were
self-contained ecosystems. For example, businesses can save materials through closed-
loop recycling, use wastes from one process as raw material for others, and make use of
energy generated as a by-product of production.

An example of industrial ecology may be found in the town of Kalundborg,
Denmark, where several companies have formed a cooperative relationship that
produces both economic and environmental benefits. The local utility company
sells excess process steam, which had previously been released into a local fjord
(waterway), to a local pharmaceutical plant and oil refinery. Excess fly ash (fine
particles produced when coal is burned) is sold to nearby businesses for use in
cement making and road building. Meanwhile, the oil refinery removes sulfur in
the natural gas it produces to make it cleaner burning and sells the sulfur to a sul-
furic acid plant. Calcium sulfate, produced as a residue of a process to cut smoke
emissions, is sold to a gypsum manufacturer for making wallboard. The entire cycle
both saves money and reduces pollution.36

Extended product responsibility refers to the idea that companies have a continuing
responsibility for the environmental impact of their products or services, even after they
are sold. This implies, for example, that firms pay close attention to the energy efficiency

34 “How Will Ocean Acidification Impact Marine Life?” Science Daily, February 3, 2015.
35 For more information on the Sustainability Consortium, see
36 “Life Cycle Analysis and Green Business Development,” October 20, 2011,

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of their products when used by the consumer. It also implies that companies design prod-
ucts for disassembly, that is, so that at the end of their useful life they can be disassembled
and recycled. At Volkswagen, the German carmaker, engineers design cars for eventual
disassembly and reuse. At the company’s specialized auto recycling plant in Leer, old cars
can be taken apart in just three minutes. Steel, precious metals, oil, acid, and glass are sep-
arated and processed. A new process enables even shredder residue—formerly unusable
bits of plastic and upholstery fabric—to be diverted from landfill and reused.37 This is
sometimes called cradle to cradle, because materials that are used to create one product are
later reused to create another. The efforts of one company, HP, to reduce its carbon impact
through extended product responsibility is profiled in Exhibit 9.B.

Carbon neutrality is when an organization or individual produces net zero emissions of
greenhouse gases. Since virtually all activity produces some atmospheric warming, this is
usually accomplished by a combination of energy efficiencies (to reduce their own emis-
sions) and carbon offsets (to reduce others’ emissions). Carbon offsets (sometimes called
carbon credits) are investments in projects that remove carbon dioxide (or its equivalent in
other climate-warming pollutants, such as black carbon) from the atmosphere. This can be
done, for example, by paying others to plant trees, produce clean energy, or sequester (bury
underground) earth-warming gases. A number of organizations now broker carbon offsets
to businesses and individuals wishing to reduce their climate impact.

In 2014, the British retailer Marks & Spencer announced its Plan A 2020
(so-called because, as their chief executive explained “there is no Plan B”), setting
out to become the “world’s most sustainable retailer. The company had already
met a prior commitment to become carbon neutral. To achieve this ambitious goal,
the company had built an experimental “learning store” in the United Kingdom
as well as an “eco-factory” in partnership with a supplier in Sri Lanka, to try out

37 More information about this technology is available at

HP’s Moonshot: Reducing Carbon Impact through
Extended Product Responsibility

In an analysis of its carbon impact, HP learned that more than three-fifths of the company’s greenhouse gas
emissions were caused by its product portfolio—that is, by its products in use once they were in the custom-
ers’ hands. Reducing the climate impacts of its own operations, manufacturing, and transportation could only
fix part of the problem, the company reasoned. So, in 2014, HP announced a new goal of reducing the emis-
sions intensity in use of all of its high-volume products, including printers, computers, and mobile devices, by
40 percent overall by 2020, compared with 10 years earlier.
A major part of this effort was the creation of a new generation of energy-efficient servers—the powerful
computers that store, share, and route data on behalf of customers in enormous data centers. Astonishingly,
humans today produce more data in 12 hours than they did in all of history up to 2003. Handling and storing
this volume of data requires more energy than the entire nation of Japan, and the additional space required
to hold new servers needed in the next three years will require more land mass than Manhattan. HP’s answer
was the Moonshot, an innovative new high-volume server that uses up to 90 percent less energy than current
servers and 80 percent less space. “We need to think differently about the technology that powers our life
and work—creating solutions that go beyond incremental efficiency improvements,” said the company’s CEO,
Meg Whitman.

Sources: CDP, Climate Action and Profitability: CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report 2014,; “HP Announces Goal to
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Product Portfolio,” HP press release, September 24, 2014; and “Living Progress: A Holistic
Approach to Creating A Better Future,” October 14, 2014,

Exhibit 9.B

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new approaches that could be diffused through its system. It had installed solar
panels and radically cut energy use at its stores and warehouses, improved the
fuel efficiency of its delivery fleet, and reduced the number of business flights
taken by employees. It also introduced new products, such as the “first ever carbon
neutral bra,” part of its Autumn Leaves lingerie collection. Marks & Spencer
offset the remainder of its carbon emission by investing in carbon reduction
projects. (Mark’s & Spencer’s partnership to promote less polluting cook stoves—
mitigating their climate impacts—is described in the discussion case at the end of
this chapter.)38

Other companies that have achieved—or pledged to achieve—carbon neutrality include, Nike, News Corporation, Timberland, and Van City.39

Sustainable development will also require technology cooperation through long-term
partnerships between companies in developed and developing countries to transfer envi-
ronmental technologies, as shown in the following example.

In Vietnam, Schneider Electric, a global energy company based in France, entered
into a partnership with an affiliated local company and a French NGO to provide
electricity to villagers in the rural province of Quang Binh, which was not con-
nected to the Vietnamese national power grid. The partnership built a small solar
power plant to supply power to homes, schools, and government offices. Local resi-
dents, who paid for the electricity with interest-free microcredit, received training
in the operation of the system—generating jobs and transferring technical knowl-
edge to an isolated region. Gaining experience in renewable power generation was
critical in Vietnam, where energy demand was expected to increase 15-fold by

The idea of sustainable development is not only widely accepted in the business com-
munity, many firms are increasingly viewing it as a core business issue. A 2014 global
survey of more than 3,000 business leaders, for example, reported that 43 percent said
their companies sought “to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission,
or values,” up from 30 percent in 2012. The following chapter explores in more detail the
steps companies are taking to do so.41

Codes of Environmental Conduct
Earlier chapters of this text have discussed the emergence of standards and codes of
conduct in the areas of ethics and global corporate citizenship. Similarly, a number of
national and international organizations have developed standards and codes of environ-
mental conduct. Some are designed to be universally applicable, while others are tailored
to particular industries. All, however, share the characteristic that they are private and
voluntary: Corporations choose to comply with these codes to show customers, inves-
tors, regulators, and others that they have met certain environmental standards in their

38 Marks & Spencer, Plan A Report 2014,
39 A list of companies that have pledged or achieved carbon neutrality may be found in “Who’s Going ‘Carbon Neutral,’” at
40 “Vietnam [Moves] Towards Using Green Energy,” September 22, 2014,; and World Business Council for
Sustainable Development, “Schneider Electric: Business Enabling Access to Energy,” [case study],
41 “Sustainability’s Strategic Worth: McKinsey Global Survey Results,” July 2014,

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Some of the leading universal codes and standards include the following:

∙ The International Chamber of Commerce has developed the Business Charter for Sus-
tainable Development, 16 principles that identify key elements of environmental lead-
ership and call on companies to recognize environmental management as among their
highest corporate priorities.42

∙ The CERES Principles, 10 voluntary principles developed by the Coalition for Envi-
ronmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and later updated as the CERES Road-
map, commit signatory firms to protection of the biosphere, sustainable use of natural
resources, energy conservation, risk reduction, and other environmental goals.43

∙ ISO 14000 is a series of voluntary standards developed by the ISO, an international
group based in Geneva, Switzerland, that permit companies to be certified as meeting
global environmental performance standards.44

∙ The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a tool developed by the World Resources Institute and
the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help businesses measure
and manage their greenhouse gas emissions.45

Codes of environmental conduct have also been developed by and for specific industries.

A prominent example is the Equator Principles, a set of environmental standards for
the financial services industry. Their focus is specific to banking: they commit sig-
natories to determine, assess, and manage environmental risk in project financing.
In other words, when a bank considers whether or not to lend money, for example,
for the construction of an oil pipeline, it must examine the environmental impact
of the project and whether or not its sponsors have systems in place to mitigate
adverse impacts. If borrowers are unable to comply, the bank will not loan them
money. The Equator Principles, launched in 2003 and most recently reviewed in
2013, have spread widely in the financial industry. By 2015, 80 financial institu-
tions around the world had signed on, ranging from huge institutions such as Citi-
group to regional banks such as Egypt’s Arab African International Bank, China’s
Industrial Bank Company, and Uruguay’s Banco de la Republica Oriental.46

Other industry-specific standards include the Forest Stewardship Council Principles in
the forest products industry, the Marine Stewardship Council in the fishing industry, and
the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in the commercial
and residential construction industry.

Protecting the environment and the well-being of future generations is not only a neces-
sity, but also an opportunity for business. Companies operate in a resource-constrained
world, where climate change and scarcity of fresh water, arable land, and healthy forests
pose pressing challenges. Environmental regulations are getting tougher, consumers want
cleaner products, and employees want to work for environmentally responsible companies.
Finding ways to reduce or recycle waste saves money. Many executives are championing
the idea that corporations have moral obligations to future generations. The most success-
ful global businesses in coming years may be those, like the ones profiled in this chapter,
that recognize the imperative for sustainable development as an opportunity both for com-
petitive advantage and ethical action.

43 “The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on the Roadmap for Sustainability,”
46 The website of the Equator Principles is

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Resources Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change United Nations Environmental Program United Nations Framework Convention on Climate

Change World Business Council on Sustainable Development Local Governments for Sustainability New media company that covers sustainable

business practices The Worldwatch Institute World Resources Institute

Key Terms biodiversity, 196
carrying capacity, 189
carbon neutrality, 199
carbon offsets, 199
climate change, 191
commons, 191
Convention on Climate
Change, 193

ecological footprint, 189
ecosystem, 185
extended product
responsibility, 198
global warming, 191
industrial ecology, 198
life-cycle analysis, 198
marine ecosystems, 197

natural capital, 184
ozone, 194
development, 185
cooperation, 200

∙ Business and society operate within a finite natural environment. This reality confers
constraints but also provides opportunities.

∙ Many world leaders have supported the idea of sustainable development, that is, devel-
opment that meets the needs of the present without hurting the ability of future genera-
tions to meet their own needs. Governments, businesses, and civil sector organizations
are engaged in a range of innovations in an effort to reach this goal.

∙ Population growth, income inequality, and rapid economic development in many parts
of the world have contributed to these ecological problems. Human society is now using
resources and producing waste at a rate well above what the Earth’s ecosystem can sus-
tainably support.

∙ Five environmental issues—climate change, ozone depletion, resource scarcity, declin-
ing biodiversity, and threats to the marine ecosystem—are shared by all nations. Inter-
national agreements are addressing some of these issues, although more remains to be

∙ Global businesses have begun to put the principles of sustainable development into
action through such innovative actions as life-cycle analysis, extended product respon-
sibility, carbon neutrality, and technology cooperation.

∙ Nationally and internationally, businesses and nongovernmental organizations have
worked together to develop voluntary codes of environmental conduct to promote


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Discussion Case: Clean Cooking

In a small village in rural Kenya, a woman bent over an open fire pit in the center of her
hut cooking the evening meal. That morning, she had spent two hours collecting wood,
animal dung, and scrap paper to use as fuel. Now, as she stirred the pot, the cook fire gave
off a steady stream of sooty, acrid smoke, which filled the room despite a ventilation hole
in the roof. The woman’s young son played dangerously close to the open flame, while her
daughter, coughing from the smoke, tried to read by the weak light of the fire.
In 2015, according to the World Bank, a similar scene was repeated in households
with 2.8 billion people every day across the developing world, with devastating effects on
human health, the environment, and economic development.
Indoor air pollution from open cookstoves is a killer. The World Health Organization
has estimated that soot, particles, and smoke from cooking is the fifth worst risk factor for
health in developing countries, causing two million premature deaths a year from lung and
heart disease—more than malaria and tuberculosis combined. Open cookstoves also lead
to disfiguring burns, asthma, eye damage, and pregnancy complications. The effects are
greatest on women and young children, who spend the most time near the hearth.
Women and girls also suffer from head and back injuries, animal attacks, and sexual
violence while searching for and carrying heavy loads of fuel, often far from home. Time
spent collecting fuel is time not spent attending school, working at a paid job, or running a
small business.
Primitive cooking methods also harm the environment. Cutting trees to produce wood
or charcoal leads to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and watershed degradation. More-
over, the combustion of biomass in cooking produces more than a quarter of the world’s
black carbon, or soot. Scientists now believe that soot is second only to carbon dioxide in
its overall contribution to global warming. Policymakers have been intrigued by the fact
that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for decades, black carbon washes out
within days or weeks. Reducing soot in the atmosphere would thus have a much more
immediate effect on global warming than cutting carbon emissions.
In 2010, the United Nations Foundation, in collaboration with several governments
(including the United States), launched the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, with
the ambitious goal of “100 by 20”—that 100 million households worldwide adopt clean
and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020. The alliance recognized that reaching this
goal would require more than money; it would require technical innovation in fuels and
stove design, new mechanisms of financing, and on-the-ground campaigns to engage users
from a wide range of cultures and cooking traditions. It would also require the support of
businesses—large and small.
Many companies saw an opportunity in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
CEMEX, a global building products company based in Mexico, developed and con-
tributed $2 million worth of clean-burning concrete cookstoves. Marks & Spencer, the
British retailer, joined the Alliance in 2014 and committed to helping employees of its
suppliers of products such as coffee and textiles to cook more efficiently; and it had
already partnered with UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) to install 40,000
clean cookstoves in Bangladesh. Dow Corning, a Midland, Michigan-based maker of
silicon-based materials, donated both money and expertise in manufacturing and material
science to the Alliance.
At the same time, motivated by greater attention to the issue, social entrepreneurs
across the globe began generating innovative ideas about how to design, manufacture, and

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finance more efficient and cleaner cookstoves—potentially a “win–win” for the environ-
ment and human health and well-being. (Social entrepreneurs are individuals who are
driven by a core mission to create and sustain social and environmental value, in addition
to economic value.)
For example, in the west African country of Ghana, Suraj Wahab founded a small busi-
ness, Toyola Energy Ltd., to produce a cookstove he invented called the gyapa (“good
fire”). His company constructed the stove from locally sourced materials—scrap metal
from construction sites and fired clay liners. Because it was designed to burn charcoal, a
fuel used by 30 percent of Ghanaian households, twice as efficiently as in an open fire,
each stove over the course of its life would prevent the release of global-warming emis-
sions equivalent to the amount generated by a Honda Civic driven for one year.
Wahab had difficulty obtaining needed capital until he partnered with E+Co, a clean
energy nonprofit that invested $270,000. E+Co helped Toyola calculate the carbon offset
value of its cookstoves, which was then monetized and sold to the investment banking firm
Goldman Sachs. Within a short period, Toyola employed 150 people and had sold more
than 150,000 cookstoves to eager Ghanaians, who welcomed the cost savings and health
benefits they provided. More than a quarter of the company’s revenue came from the sale
of carbon offsets, helping keep the price to consumers as low as $7.
Similar stories of creative partnerships were occurring around the globe. The nonprofit
Trees, Water, & People, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, built and distributed almost
50,000 cookstoves in Guatemala. Their stove was an insulated metal box topped by a
removable cooking surface adapted to cooking tortillas and a chimney pipe to vent smoke
through a roof hole. Increased fuel efficiency saved families about ten dollars a month, in
a society in which 80 percent of the population lived on two dollars a day or less. Other
organizations, such as Solar Cookers International, experimented with ways to harness the
power of the sun—a completely renewable, clean, and free source of energy—to boil water
and cook food.
Contributions like these moved the Alliance closer to its ambitious goal. “As we build
a cookstoves market to the scale necessary to combat and defeat this silent killer,” said its
executive director, “the strong support and unique expertise of our partners and champions
will be invaluable.”

Sources: “Push for Cleaner Cook Stoves in Poor Countries to Cut Pollution,” Associated Press, April 8, 2015; “Clean Stoves
Bring a Better Life,” May 7, 2014,; “How Marks & Spencer is Cooking Its Way to a Cleaner Future,”
March 30, 2015,; “Forest Saving Stoves Program,”; “Case Study: Toyola
Energy Limited, Ghana,”; and “Clean Cookstoves: Dow Corning’s Path to Public-Private
Partnership,”, February 28, 2012. The website of the Global Alliance for
Clean Cookstoves is at


1. In what ways would the widespread adoption of clean cookstoves address the global
environmental issues discussed in this chapter?

2. In what ways would the widespread adoption of clean cookstoves address the issues of
economic development and poverty discussed in this chapter?

3. Which sectors (e.g., government, business, civil society) would need to be involved in
a successful campaign to promote clean cookstoves in the developing world, and what
would be the contributions of each?

4. What would be the benefit to multinational corporations, such as CEMEX, Marks and
Spencer, and Dow Corning, of participating in this effort? What distinctive contribu-
tions can social entrepreneurs make to promoting clean cookstoves?

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Managing for Sustainability

Growing public concern about sustainability has prompted political, corporate, and civil society
leaders to become increasingly responsive to environmental issues. In the United States and other
nations, government policymakers have moved toward greater reliance on economic incentives,
rather than command and control regulations, to achieve environmental goals. At the same time,
many businesses have become increasingly proactive and have pioneered new approaches to
effective sustainability management, sometimes in partnership with advocacy organizations. These
actions have often given firms a competitive advantage by cutting costs, gaining public support, and
spurring innovation.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 10-1 Knowing the main features of environmental laws in the United States and other nations.

LO 10-2 Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different regulatory approaches.

LO 10-3 Assessing the costs and benefits of environmental regulation.

LO 10-4 Defining an ecologically sustainable organization and the stages through which firms progress as
they become more sustainable.

LO 10-5 Understanding how businesses can best manage for sustainability.

LO 10-6 Analyzing how effective sustainability management makes firms more competitive and improves
their financial performance.

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206 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

In 2015, Levi Strauss & Company reported that $500 million worth of garments it sold the
prior year were “sustainably enhanced,” up from none just five years earlier. The maker
of the iconic Levi’s jeans had worked with cotton farmers to reduce their use of water and
pesticides, integrated recycled plastic from soda bottles into their fabric, and worked with
the World Bank to provide low-cost loans to suppliers that met sustainability goals. The
company encouraged its customers to wash their jeans less often and to keep them longer.
The company aimed for a day when all Levi’s apparel would be recycled in a closed loop,
worn for many years and then returned to be made into new garments. “People buy Levi’s
because of the style, quality, and fit,” said the company’s vice president for social and envi-
ronmental sustainability. “But we do believe that, all things being equal, if we can surprise
and delight them with what we are doing around sustainability, it’s additive.”1

In the months leading up to United Nations–sponsored climate change talks in Paris,
France, in late 2015, the European Union struggled to fix its cap-and-trade regulations. For
a decade, the continent had been experimenting with a market-based system that allowed
companies that cut their emissions of greenhouse gases to sell permits to others that had
exceeded their quota, providing an incentive to reduce their pollution. But the system had
not worked well, partly because the price of permits had fallen so low that they did little
to change companies’ behavior. In response, the European parliament agreed to reduce
the number of permits issued (forcing up their price) and committed to invest the result-
ing revenue in clean energy and other climate initiatives. But, as the secretary-general of
the United Nations pointed out, even the most sophisticated public policies by themselves
would be insufficient to address climate change. “It is not only government,” he said at the
2015 World Economic Forum. “Government cannot do it alone.”2

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading environmental advocacy orga-
nization, has formed partnerships with a number of companies, including McDonald’s,
DuPont, Starbucks, and FedEx, to improve environmental performance and gather infor-
mation. In its most recent effort, EDF partnered with Google Earth Outreach to find, mea-
sure, and map natural gas leaks in a number of cities across the United States. Specially
equipped Street View cars, which Google uses to photograph streetscapes for use with
its map application, gathered data on even small gas leaks. Escaping gas—mostly from
aging pipes—was a problem because it cost customers money, heightened the risks of
explosion, and worsened climate change. In 2014, EDF and Google released interactive
maps of several cities, including Boston, Syracuse, Indianapolis, and Burlington, showing
the results. Some utilities welcomed the effort, saying it helped them identify pipes that
needed repair. “This project puts information in the hands of people who can make a dif-
ference,” said the program manager for Google Earth Outreach.3

In the early years of the 21st century, many businesses, governments, and environmental
advocacy organizations became increasingly concerned that old strategies for promoting
environmental protection were failing and new approaches were necessary. Government

1 “Levi’s Wants to Convert Social Ambition to Cash,” San Francisco Chronicle. March 13, 2015; “Stop Washing Your Jeans:
LS&Co. CEO Chip Bergh at Brainstorm Green,” May 20, 2014,; “Levi’s Offers WasteLess
Denim,” October 20, 2012,
2 “Europe Reforms Cap-and-Trade, Lays Out Climate Vision,” February 25, 2015,; “Europe’s
Evolving Climate Position,” March 7, 2015,; and “24 Quotes on Climate Change from Davos 2015,”
January 23, 2015,
3 “EDF Partners with Google Earth Outreach to Map Natural Gas Leaks Under U.S. City Streets,” July 16, 2014,;
and “Google Teams Up with Environmentalists to Track Natural Gas Leaks,” Boston Magazine, July 16, 2014, The methane maps are available at More information about EDF’s corporate
partnerships is available at

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policymakers moved toward greater reliance on economic incentives to achieve environ-
mental goals. Environmentalists engaged in greater dialogue and cooperation with industry
leaders. Many businesses pioneered new approaches to sustainability, such as developing
products with fewer adverse environmental impacts.

The challenge facing government, industry, and environmental advocates alike, as they
tried out new approaches and improved on old ones, was how to promote ecologically
sound business practices in an increasingly integrated world economy.

Role of Government

In many nations, government is actively involved in regulating business activities in order
to protect the environment. Business firms have few incentives to minimize pollution if
their competitors do not. A single firm acting on its own to reduce discharges into a river,
for example, would incur extra costs. If its competitors did not do the same, the firm might
not be able to compete effectively and could go out of business. Government, by setting a
common standard for all firms, can take the cost of pollution control out of competition. It
can also provide economic incentives to encourage businesses, communities, and regions
to reduce pollution, and offer legal and administrative systems for resolving disputes. Gov-
ernment cannot accomplish environmental goals by itself; its role, rather, is to make a
critical contribution to a collective effort, together with business and civil society, to move
toward sustainability.

In the United States, government has been involved in environmental regulation since
the late 19th century, when the first federal laws were passed protecting navigable water-
ways. The government’s role began to increase dramatically, however, around 1970,
when Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which created
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the nation’s main environmental regulatory
agency. Figure 10.1 summarizes the major federal environmental laws enacted by the U.S.
Congress since the passage of NEPA. It is organized into four categories: air; water; land,
species, and habitat; and cross-media (referring to the regulation of forms of pollution that
have multiple impacts on air, water, and land).

Various regional, state, and local agencies also have jurisdiction over some environ-
mental issues in their respective areas. Figure 10.1 shows no recent legislation. Since 2000,
most changes in federal regulatory oversight have come through agency rulemaking and
executive action rather than legislation. For example, new regulations in 2013 that limited
carbon dioxide emissions from power plants came not from Congress, but from the EPA.4

Major Areas of Environmental Regulation
In the United States, the federal government regulates in three major areas of environ-
mental protection: air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution (solid and hazardous
waste). This section will review the major ecological issues and the U.S. laws pertaining to
each, with comparative references to similar initiatives in other nations.

Air Pollution

Air pollution occurs when more pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere than can be safely
absorbed and diluted by natural processes. Some pollution occurs naturally, such as smoke and
ash from volcanoes and forest fires. But most air pollution today results from human activity,
especially industrial processes and motor vehicle emissions. Air pollution degrades buildings,

4 “Administration Presses Ahead with Limits on Emissions from Power Plants,” The New York Times, September 19, 2013.

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208 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

Leading U.S.
Protection Laws • CLEAN AIR ACT (1970) Established national air quality standards and timetables.

• CLEAN AIR ACT AMENDMENTS (1977) Revised air standards.

• CLEAN AIR ACT AMENDMENTS (1990) Required cuts in urban smog, acid rain, and
greenhouse gas emissions; promoted alternative fuels.

• WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT (1972) Established national goals and timetables for
clean waterways.

• SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT (1974 and 1996) Authorized national standards for drinking water.

• CLEAN WATER ACT AMENDMENTS (1987) Authorized funds for sewage treatment plants and
waterways cleanup.

• ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (1973) Conserved species of animals and plants whose survival
was threatened or endangered.

• HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRANSPORT ACT (1974) Regulated shipment of hazardous materials.

• RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT (1976) Regulated hazardous materials
from production to disposal.

• TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT (1976) Established national policy to regulate, restrict,
and, if necessary, ban toxic chemicals.

(SUPERFUND) (1980) Established Superfund and procedures to clean up hazardous waste

release inventory.

• PESTICIDE CONTROL ACT (1972) Required registration of and restrictions on pesticide use.

• POLLUTION PREVENTION ACT (1990) Provided guidelines, training, and incentives to prevent
or reduce pollution at the source.

• OIL POLLUTION ACT (1990) Strengthened EPA’s ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic
oil spills.

ACT (1999) Set standards for the storage of flammable chemicals and fuels.





reduces crop yields, mars the beauty of natural landscapes, and harms people’s health. The
American Lung Association (ALA) estimated in 2014 that 148 million Americans, almost
half of the population, were breathing unsafe air for at least part of each year. Fully 70 percent
of the cancer risk from air pollution is due to diesel exhaust from trucks, farm and construc-
tion equipment, marine vessels, and electric generators. People living near busy highways
and workers in occupations that use diesel equipment are particularly at risk.5

5 American Lung Association, “State of the Air: 2014,”; and “Health Effects of Diesel Exhaust,” http://ochha

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One approach to reducing diesel pollution is a service called IdleAir, operated by
Convoy Solutions of Knoxville, Tennessee. IdleAir provides an alternative for long-
haul truck drivers who idle their engines at truck stops in order to provide power to
the cab during rest breaks. An inexpensive window-mounted adapter allows drivers
to hook up to a service module, so they can continue to enjoy heating, cooling,
cable TV, and Internet access with their engines off. The solution is less expensive
for truckers because it uses one-tenth the energy of idling, and reduces pollution by
completely eliminating diesel emissions during rest breaks.6

The EPA has identified six criteria pollutants, relatively common harmful substances
that serve as indicators of overall levels of air pollution. These are lead, carbon monoxide,
particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone. (Ozone at ground level is a
particularly unhealthy component of smog.) In addition, the agency also has identified a list
of toxic air pollutants that are considered hazardous even in relatively small concentrations.
These include asbestos, benzene (found in gasoline), dioxin, perchloroethylene (used in
some dry-cleaning processes), methylene chloride (used in some paint strippers), and radio-
active materials. Emissions of toxic pollutants are strictly controlled. In 2014, the Supreme
Court ruled that the EPA could regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (one of the main con-
tributors to global warming) at facilities it already regulated for other pollutants.7

A special problem of air pollution is acid rain. Acid rain is formed when emissions of
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, by-products of the burning of fossil fuels by utilities,
manufacturers, and motor vehicles, combine with natural water vapor in the air and fall to
earth as rain or snow that is more acidic than normal. Acid rain can damage the ecosystems
of lakes and rivers, reduce crop yields, and degrade forests. Structures, such as buildings
and monuments, are also harmed. Within North America, acid rain is most prevalent in
New England and eastern Canada, regions that are downwind of coal-burning utilities in
the Midwestern states.8 The major law governing air pollution is the Clean Air Act, passed
in 1970 and amended in 1990. The 1990 Clean Air Act toughened standards in a number of
areas, including stricter restrictions on emissions of acid rain–causing chemicals.

The efforts of the U.S. government to reduce acid rain illustrate some of the difficult
trade-offs involved in environmental policy. These are described in Exhibit 10.A.

Water Pollution

Water pollution, like air pollution, occurs when more wastes are dumped into waterways,
lakes, or oceans than can be naturally diluted and carried away. Water can be polluted
by organic wastes (untreated sewage or manure), by chemicals from industrial processes,
and by the disposal of nonbiodegradable products (which do not naturally decay). Heavy
metals and toxic chemicals, including some used as pesticides and herbicides, can be par-
ticularly persistent. Like poor air, poor water quality can harm ecosystems, decrease crop
yields, threaten human health, and degrade the quality of life. Failure to comply with clean
water laws can be very expensive for business, as the following example shows.

In 2010, a wellhead blowout at a deepwater drilling platform operated on behalf of
BP (formerly British Petroleum) in the Gulf of Mexico caused the largest marine oil
spill in U.S. history. For three months, as crews struggled to cap the well, as much
as 5 million barrels of oil gushed into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, causing

6 The company’s website is
7 PBS Newshour, “Supreme Court Limits EPS’s Authority to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions,” June 23, 2014,
8 More information about acid rain may be found at

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Moving Mountains to Fight Acid Rain

As part of its efforts to control acid rain, the U.S. government in 1990 initiated stricter new restrictions on
the emission of sulfur dioxide by utilities. Many electric companies complied with the law by switching from
high-sulfur coal, which produces more sulfur dioxide when burned, to low-sulfur coal, which produces less.
This action had the beneficial effect of reducing acid rain.
But the law had some environmentally destructive results that had been unintended by regulators. Much
of the highest-quality low-sulfur coal in the United States lies in horizontal layers near the tops of rugged
mountains in Appalachia, including parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some coal
companies discovered that the cheapest way to extract this coal was through what came to be known as
mountaintop removal. Explosives were used to blast away up to 500 feet of mountaintop. Massive machines
called draglines, 20 stories tall and costing $100 million each, were then used to remove the debris to get at
buried seams of coal. A 2009 study using satellite images estimated that 1.2 million acres had been ravaged
in this manner by surface mining. Although coal operators were required to reclaim the land afterward—by
filling in adjacent valleys with debris and planting grass and shrubs—many environmentalists believed the
damage caused by mountaintop removal was severe. Many rivers and creeks were contaminated and habitat
destroyed. Aquifers dried up, and the entire region became vulnerable to devastating floods. Many felt it was
deeply ironic that a law that was designed to benefit the environment in one way had indirectly harmed it in
Since 2008, coal production at mountaintop removal mines has declined. Partly, this reflected an overall
shift from coal to natural gas during this period. But, it also reflected decisions by major banks, including PNC,
Bank of America, and Citigroup, to stop funding these environmentally destructive practices.

Sources: “A New Tack in the War on Mining Mountains,” The New York Times, March 9, 2015; “Coal Production Using Mountaintop
Removal Mining Decreases 62% Since 2008,” July 9, 2015,; and “The High Cost of Cheap Coal:
When Mountains Move,” National Geographic, March 2006, pp. 105–23. Aerial maps showing the location and extent of surface
mines may be found at Studies on the extent of mountaintop removal mining and reclamation efforts are
available at

Exhibit 10.A

extensive damage to marine life and devastating the coastal economies of adjacent
states. Subsequent government investigations found that BP’s relentless cost cutting
and inadequate safety systems had contributed to the spill. In 2015, BP agreed to
pay $18.7 billion to settle claims by federal, state, and local governments arising
from the spill, the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history. BP estimated
that the total cost of the spill—including the actual cleanup, payments to
individuals and shareholders, criminal fines, and other costs not included in the
settlement—would be nearly $54 billion.9

In the United States, regulations address both the pollution of rivers, lakes, and other
surface bodies of water and the quality of the drinking water. The main U.S. law governing
water pollution is the Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act.
This law aims to restore or maintain the integrity of all surface water in the United States.
It requires permits for most point sources of pollution, such as industrial emissions, and
mandates that local and state governments develop plans for nonpoint sources, such as
agricultural runoff or urban storm water. The Pesticide Control Act specifically restricts
the use of dangerous pesticides, which can pollute groundwater. The quality of drinking
water is regulated by another law, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, amended in 1996.
This law sets minimum standards for various contaminants in both public water systems
and aquifers that supply drinking water wells.

9 “BP to Pay $18/7 Billion for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” The New York Times, July 2, 2015. For an account of the environ-
ment impact of the spill, see Four Years Into the Gulf Oil Disaster: Still Waiting for Restoration (National Wildlife Federation,
April 8, 2014),

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The impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a method for extracting natural gas from under-
ground shale formations, on the quality of drinking water—and how these impacts should
be regulated—is explored in the discussion case at the end of this chapter.

Land Pollution

The third major focus of environmental regulation is the contamination of land by both
solid and hazardous waste. The United States produces an astonishing amount of solid
waste, adding up to more than four pounds per person per day. Of this, 46 percent is
recycled, composted, or incinerated, and the rest ends up in municipal landfills.10 Many
businesses and communities have tried to reduce the solid waste stream by establishing
recycling programs.

Sweden is one of the world’s leaders in reducing solid waste. Astonishingly, less
than 1 percent of the country’s household waste ends up in landfills. Swedes sort
their trash, separating paper, plastics, metal, glass, food waste, light bulbs, and bat-
teries. All residential areas have convenient recycling stations, and special trucks
pick up electronics and other hazardous waste. About half of these materials are
recycled and reused in some way, and the other half are burned to generate energy.
Sweden’s waste incineration plants have become so efficient that the country
routinely imports waste from its neighbors. Swedish companies have joined the
effort, too; the retailer H&M, for example, accepts used clothing from customers in
exchange for coupons. “Zero waste, that’s our slogan,” said the CEO of the Swedish
Waste Management and Recycling Association.11

The safe disposal of hazardous waste is a special concern. Several U.S. laws
address the problem of land contamination by hazardous waste. The Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (amended in 1984) regulates hazardous
materials from “cradle to grave.” The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of
1976 requires the EPA to inventory the thousands of chemicals in commercial use,
identify which are most dangerous, and, if necessary, ban them or restrict their
use. In 2014, an aging and rusty storage tank holding toxic chemicals used to wash
coal leaked, spilling 7,500 gallons into the nearby Elk River near Charleston, West
Virginia. Three hundred thousand people who relied on the river for their water
supply were told not to drink or bathe with it for several weeks afterwards. (The
owner of the tank, Freedom Industries, shortly afterwards declared bankruptcy and
shut down.) This frightening incident led to calls to update the almost 40-year-old
TSCA, but reform efforts failed in Congress. Several states, however, including
West Virginia, passed new laws requiring the inspection of chemical storage tanks.12

As this example illustrates, states are able to pass regulations that are stricter than fed-
eral rules. (They can also regulate industries that do not engage in interstate commerce.)

Some studies have suggested that hazardous waste sites are most often located near
economically disadvantaged African American, Hispanic, and Native American commu-
nities. Since 1994, the EPA has investigated whether state permits for hazardous waste
sites violate civil rights laws and has blocked permits that appear to discriminate against
minorities. The effort to prevent inequitable exposure to risk, such as from hazardous

10 Environmental Protection Agency, “Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts
and Figures for 2012,”
11 “The Swedish Recycling Revolution,” November 28, 2014,
12 “A Year after West Virginia Chemical Spill, Some Signs of Safer Water,” National Geographic, January 10, 2015; and “Chemi-
cal Spill Muddies Picture in a State Wary of Regulations,” The New York Times, January 18, 2014.

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212 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

waste, is sometimes referred to as the movement for environmental justice.13 For example,
Native American tribes in Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico have organized to block the
construction of nuclear waste disposal facilities on their land, saying the facilities would
threaten their health, culture, and economic viability.14

The major U.S. law governing the cleanup of existing hazardous waste sites is the
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA,
popularly known as Superfund, passed in 1980. This law established a fund, supported
primarily by a tax on petroleum and chemical companies that were presumed to have cre-
ated a disproportionate share of toxic wastes. The EPA was charged with establishing a
National Priority List of the most dangerous toxic sites; around 1,700 sites were eventually
designated as Superfund sites. Where the original polluters could be identified, they would
be required to pay for the cleanup; where they could not be identified or had gone out of
business, the Superfund would pay.

One of the largest hazardous waste sites on the Superfund list is an almost 200-mile
long stretch of the Hudson River, extending from Hudson Falls, New York, to Man-
hattan. Over a period of three decades until the late 1970s, General Electric (GE) fac-
tories discharged an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, cancer-causing chemicals
formerly used in electrical equipment, into the river. Since the company was respon-
sible, it was required to supervise and pay for the cleanup. GE was set to complete
dredging the riverbed to remove PCB-contaminated sediment, removing and treating
the water it contained, and trucking the residue to a permitted landfill in 2015, but
still had more work to do investigating possible contamination farther upriver. The
cost to the company was expected eventually to reach around $2 billion.15

Remarkably, nearly one in six U.S. residents now lives within three miles of a Super-
fund site. But the government has been making progress; cleanup has been completed at
380 sites and is underway at 1,160 others.16

Alternative Policy Approaches
Governments can use a variety of policy approaches to control air, water, and land pollu-
tion. The most widely used method of regulation historically has been to impose environ-
mental standards. Increasingly, however, government policymakers have relied more on
market-based and voluntary approaches, rather than command and control regulations, to
achieve environmental goals. These different approaches are discussed next.

Environmental Standards

The traditional method of pollution control is through environmental standards. Standard
allowable levels of various pollutants are established by legislation or regulatory action
and applied by administrative agencies and courts. This approach is also called command
and control regulation, because the government commands business firms to comply with
certain standards and often directly controls their choice of technology.

13 Robert D. Bullard, “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century,” Environmental Justice Resource Center, available at www; and Christopher H. Foreman, Jr., The Promise and Perils of Environmental Justice
(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2000).
14 Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “Environmental Racism, Tribal Sovereignty, and Nuclear Waste,” at
15 “EPA Announces Agreement with GE to Further Investigate Upper Hudson River Floodplain,” October 10, 2014, http://
yosemite.epa; and “GE Says Completion of Hudson River Dredging Will Resolve Liabilities,” The Wall Street Journal,
December 27, 2013. The EPA posts regular reports on the progress of the cleanup at
16 “Wasteland,” National Geographic, December 2014.

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One type of standard is an environmental-quality standard. In this approach a given
geographical area is permitted to have no more than a certain amount or proportion of a
pollutant in the air. Polluters, such as utilities and factories, are required to control their
emissions to maintain the area’s standard of air quality. For example, in 2014, the EPA
issued new, more stringent standards for air concentrations of ground-level ozone, which
the agency called the “most pervasive and widespread pollutant in the country.”17 A sec-
ond type is an emission standard. For example, the law might specify that manufacturers
could release into the air no more than 1 percent of the ash (a pollutant) they generated.
Sometimes, the EPA mandates that companies use the best available technology, meaning
a particular process that the agency determines is the best economically achievable way to
reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Market-Based Mechanisms

In recent years, regulators have begun to move away from command and control regula-
tion, favoring increased use of market-based mechanisms. This approach is based on the
idea that the market is a better control than extensive standards that specify precisely what
companies must do.

One approach that has become more widely used is to allow businesses to buy and sell
the right to pollute, in a process known as cap-and-trade. The European Union’s tradable
permit program for carbon emissions, described in one of the opening examples of this
chapter, illustrates this approach. The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1990 also incorporated the
concept of tradable permits as part of its approach to pollution reduction. The law estab-
lished emission levels (called “caps”) and permitted companies with emissions below the
cap to sell (“trade”) their rights to the remaining permissible amount to firms that faced
penalties because their emissions were above the cap. Over time, the government would
reduce the cap, thus gradually reducing overall emissions, even though individual compa-
nies might continue to pollute above the cap. Companies could choose whether to reduce
their emissions—for example, by installing pollution abatement equipment—or to buy
allowances from others. One study showed that the tradable permit program for acid rain
may have saved companies as much as $3 billion per year, by allowing them the flexibility
to choose the most cost-effective methods of complying with the law.18

Another market-based type of pollution control is establishment of emissions charges or
fees. Each business is charged for the undesirable waste that it emits, with the fee varying
according to the amount of waste released. The result is, “The more you pollute, the more you
pay.” In this approach, polluting is not illegal, but it is expensive, creating an incentive for com-
panies to clean up. In recent years, governments have experimented with a variety of so-called
green taxes or eco-taxes that levy a fee on various kinds of environmentally destructive behav-
ior. In addition to taxing bad behavior, governments may also offer various types of positive
incentives to firms that improve their environmental performance. For example, it may decide
to purchase only from those firms that meet a certain pollution standard, or offer aid to those
that install pollution control equipment. Tax incentives, such as faster depreciation for pollution
control equipment, also may be used. Governments may also levy eco-taxes on individuals.

Since 2008, for instance, auto registration fees in Ireland have been based on green-
house gas emissions, with owners paying €104 to €2,100, depending how pollut-
ing their vehicle is. The eco-tax was designed to encourage people to buy cleaner
cars. Other countries with similar programs include the Netherlands, Portugal,

17 “E.P.A. Ozone Rules Divide Industry and Government,” The New York Times, November 26, 2014.
18 For more on the tradable permit system for acid rain, see

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214 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

Canada, Spain, and Finland. Germany has enacted eco-taxes on gasoline and elec-
tricity, with the intention of promoting energy efficiency.19

In short, the trend has been for governments to use more flexible, market-oriented
approaches—tradable allowances, pollution fees and taxes, and incentives—to achieve
environmental objectives where possible.

Information Disclosure

Another approach to reducing pollution is popularly known as regulation by publicity, or
regulation by embarrassment. The government encourages companies to pollute less by
publishing information about the amount of pollutants individual companies emit each year.
In many cases, companies voluntarily reduce their emissions to avoid public embarrassment.

The major experiment in regulation by publicity has occurred in the area of toxic emis-
sions to the air and water. The 1986 amendments to the Superfund law, called SARA,
included a provision called the Community Right-to-Know Law, which required manufac-
turing firms to report, for a list of specified toxic chemicals, the amount on site, the num-
ber of pounds released, and how (if at all) these chemicals were treated or disposed of. The
EPA makes this information available to the public in the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI,
published annually. Evidence shows that at least initially, reporting manufacturers in the
United States cut their releases and disposal of these chemicals to the air, water, and land,
apparently fearing negative publicity. Recently, however, the TRI numbers have begun to
trend up—mostly reflecting toxic emissions from the metal mining industry.20

The advantages and disadvantages of alternative policy approaches to reducing pollu-
tion are summarized in Figure 10.2.

Civil and Criminal Enforcement

Companies that violate environmental laws are subject to stiff civil penalties and fines, and
their managers can face prison if they knowingly or negligently endanger people or the
environment. Proponents of this approach argue that the threat of fines and even imprison-
ment can be an effective deterrent to corporate outlaws who would otherwise degrade the
air, water, or land. In 2014, the EPA brought criminal charges against 187 defendants. For
example, in 2014 the environmental control manager of Tonawanda Coke was convicted
of violations of environmental law and sentenced to one year in prison after he was found
to have concealed the illegal release of gases containing dangerous benzene directly from
coke ovens into the air.21 Companies can also be charged, as the following example shows.

In 2014, Anadarko Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration company, paid more than
$5 billion to settle charges of widespread environmental contamination and to pay for
cleanup. Anadarko had purchased Kerr-McGee, a company responsible for dumping
radioactive uranium, rocket fuel, wood creosote, and other contaminants at 2,000
sites in 11 states over an 85-year period. Kerr-McGee had tried to spin off its envi-
ronmental liabilities before selling its remaining assets to Anadarko, but the court
had rejected that argument. “Today’s settlement is a just resolution of an historic
injustice to the American people and our environment,” said one of the prosecutors.22

19 Ireland’s auto registration system is explained at
20 TRI data are available at Maps showing the geographical distribution
of chemical releases reported under TRI are available at
21 “Enforcement Annual Results for FY 2014” and “Tonawanda Coke Gets One of the Largest Air Pollution Fines Levied at a
Federal Criminal Trial,”
22 “United States Announces $5.15 Billion Settlement of Litigation Against Subsidiaries of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.,” press
release, U.S. Department of Justice, April 3, 2014.

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Advantages and
Disadvantages of
Alternative Policy
Approaches to
Reducing Pollution

Policy Approach Advantages Disadvantages




Civil and criminal


• Enforceable in the courts
• Compliance mandatory

• Gives businesses more
• Achieves goals at lower
overall cost
• Saves jobs by allowing some
less-efficient plants to stay
• Permits the government and
private organizations to buy
allowances to take them off
the market
• Encourages continued

• Taxes bad behavior (pollution)
rather than good behavior

• Rewards environmentally
responsible behavior
• Encourages companies to
exceed minimum standards

• Government spends little on
• Companies able to reduce
pollution in the most cost-
effective way

• May deter wrongdoing by
firms and individuals

• Across-the-board standards not
equally relevant to all businesses
• Requires large regulatory apparatus
• Older, less-efficient plants may be
forced to close
• Can retard innovation
• Fines may be cheaper than
• Does not improve compliance once
compliance is achieved

• Gives business a license to pollute
• Permit levels are hard to set
• May cause regional imbalances in
pollution levels
• Enforcement is difficult.

• Fees are hard to set
• Taxes may be too low to curb

• Incentives may not be strong
enough to curb pollution

• Does not motivate all companies

• May not deter wrongdoing if
penalties and enforcement efforts
are perceived as weak

Emissions fees
and taxes


European regulators and prosecutors have also actively pursued corporate environmen-
tal criminals. For example, the EU standardized its laws against marine pollution and
raised maximum penalties after a series of oil tanker wrecks fouled the coasts of France,
Spain, and Portugal. Europe is the world’s largest importer of oil, and 90 percent is trans-
ported to the continent by seagoing ships.23

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, a government agency responsible for setting uniform
penalties for violations of federal law, has established guidelines for sentencing environ-
mental wrongdoers. Under these rules, penalties would reflect not only the severity of

23 “The Community Framework for Cooperation in the Field of Accidental or Deliberate Marine Pollution,” at http://ec.europa.

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216 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

the offense but also a company’s demonstrated environmental commitment. Businesses
that have an active compliance program, cooperate with government investigators, and
promptly assist any victims would receive lighter sentences than others with no environ-
mental programs or that knowingly violate the law. These guidelines provide an incentive
for businesses to develop active compliance programs to protect themselves and their offi-
cers from high fines or even prison if a violation should occur.

Costs and Benefits of Environmental Regulation

One central issue of environmental protection is how costs are balanced by benefits. In
the four decades or so since the modern environmental era began, the nation has spent a
great deal to clean up the environment and keep it clean. Some have questioned the value
choices underlying these expenditures, suggesting that the costs—lost jobs, reduced capital
investment, and lowered productivity—exceeded the benefits. Others, in contrast, point to
significant gains in the quality of life and to the economic payoff of a cleaner environment.

Businesses in the United States have invested heavily in environmental protection.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, for example, manufacturing firms spent
about $6 billion in capital expenditures (e.g., installing pollution controls) and about $21
billion in operating costs (e.g., paying for wages and supplies) to comply with environmen-
tal regulations. The industries that spent the most were chemicals, oil, and coal.24 Business
spending to comply with environmental regulation has diverted funds that might otherwise
have been invested in new plants and equipment or in research and development, and strict
rules have sometimes led to plant shutdowns and loss of jobs. Some regions and industries,
in particular, have been hard hit by environmental regulation, especially those with high
abatement costs, such as paper and wood products, chemicals, petroleum and coal, and
primary metals. Inevitably, many of these costs are passed on to customers. On the other
hand, emissions of nearly all pollutants have dropped significantly since the beginning of
the modern environmental era. These improvements have benefited human health and the

For any particular regulation, weighing the costs and benefits—called a regulatory
impact analysis—is mandated by law. For example, the EPA estimated that its
recent regulations on ozone, mentioned earlier in this chapter, would cost busi-
nesses $15 billion in 2025, when the rule would be fully implemented (based on
the middle of three possible scenarios). However, the estimated benefits were even
bigger: $19 to $38 billion, the valuation the EPA calculated for fewer premature
deaths, heart attacks, asthma attacks, and other adverse impacts on human health.
Not surprisingly, reactions differed among stakeholders. “We’re facing a series
of regulations, and the cumulative cost of compliance . . . is significant,” said the
president of the American Chemistry Council, which had vigorously opposed the
new rules. But the American Lung Association praised them, saying, “The science
is clear. A more protective standard is needed to protect the health of millions of
Americans breathing polluted air every day.”25

24 U.S. Census Bureau, “Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures: 2005.” This survey, formerly conducted annually, has
not been reissued since 2005.
25 EPA, “Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Proposed Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ground-Level
Ozone,” November 2014,; “Health Professionals across the Nation Urge EPA to Finalize Most Protective Ozone
Air Quality Standard,” March 17, 2015,; and “EPA Ozone Rules Divide Industry and Environmentalists,” The New
York Times, November 26, 2014.

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As this example illustrates, whether a particular regulation is worthwhile depends on
the stakeholder’s point of view, since its costs and benefits often accrue to different parties.

More broadly, environmental regulations stimulate some sectors of the economy.
While jobs are lost in industries such as forest products and high-sulfur coal mining, oth-
ers are created in areas like recycling, environmental consulting, wind turbine and solar
panel production and installation, waste management equipment, and air pollution con-
trol. For example, operators of coal-fired power plants predicted that big required cuts in
mercury emissions, adopted in 2012, would cost thousands of jobs. But trade groups said
that the regulations could add 300,000 jobs a year through 2017 in companies that make
equipment to reduce emissions.26 Jobs are saved or created in industries such as fishing
and tourism when natural areas are protected or restored. Moreover, environmental reg-
ulations can stimulate the economy by compelling businesses to become more efficient
by conserving energy, and less money is spent on treating health problems caused by

Sectors of the economy that produce goods and services with an environmental benefit
are known as the clean economy. In 2012, the U.S. government for the first time estimated
the size of the clean economy, reporting that 3.1 million people (2.4 percent of the total
number employed) were employed there. Three-quarters of these jobs were in the private
sector. A similar study conducted by the Brookings Institution found that most “green
jobs” were in mature industries, such as wastewater treatment and mass transit. But the
fastest-growing segment of the clean economy was in the newer alternative energy indus-
tries such as wind energy, solar power, and the so-called smart grid (which used technol-
ogy to deliver electricity more efficiently).27

Because of the complexity of these issues, economists differ on the net costs and bene-
fits of environmental regulation. In some respects, government controls hurt the economy,
and in other ways they help, as summarized in Figure 10.3. What is clear is that choices in
the area of environmental regulation reflect underlying values, expressed in a democratic
society through an open political process. Just how much a society is prepared to pay and
how “clean” it wants to be are political choices, reflecting the give and take of diverse
interests in a pluralistic society.

Costs and Benefits
of Environmental

Costs Benefits

• Manufacturers, mining companies, and utilities
spend billions of dollars annually to comply with
environmental regulations.

• Some jobs are lost in particularly polluting

• Competitiveness of some capital-intensive,
“dirty” industries is impaired.

• Consumers pay more when companies pass
along increased costs of regulations.

• Emissions of pollutants drop.

• Air and water quality improves; toxic-waste
sites are cleaned up; and natural beauty is
preserved or enhanced.

• People live longer and healthier lives in less
polluted environments.

• Jobs are created in the clean economy
sector, such as environmental products and
services, alternative energy, and tourism.

26 “Regulations Create Jobs, Too,” Bloomberg Businessweek, February 9, 2012.
27 “A Tally of Green Jobs,” New York Times, March 22, 2012; “Measuring Green Jobs,”; and “Sizing the
Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment,” July 13, 2011,

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218 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

Managing for Sustainability

Environmental regulations, such as the laws governing clean air, water, and land described
in this chapter, establish minimum legal standards that businesses must meet. Most compa-
nies try to comply with these regulations, if only to avoid litigation, fines, and, in the most
extreme cases, criminal penalties. But many firms are now voluntarily moving beyond
compliance to improve environmental performance in all areas of their operations and to
manage proactively for sustainability. This section describes the stages of corporate envi-
ronmental responsibility and discusses the organizational approaches companies have used
to manage environmental issues effectively. The following section explains why managing
for sustainability can improve a company’s strategic competitiveness.

Stages of Corporate Environmental Responsibility
Although environmental issues are forcing all businesses to manage in new ways, not all
companies are equally proactive in their response. One widely used model identifies three
main stages of corporate environmental responsibility.

According to this model, companies pass through three distinct stages in sustainability
management.28 The first stage is pollution prevention, which focuses on “minimizing or
eliminating waste before it is created.” The second stage is product stewardship. In this
stage, managers focus on “all environmental impacts associated with the full life cycle of
a product,” from the design of a product to its eventual use and disposal. HP, for example,
has designed its laser printer ink cartridges so they can be refurbished and reused, and
provides a mailing label for customers to return them free of charge. Finally, the third
and most advanced stage is clean technology, in which businesses develop innovative new
technologies that support sustainability—that actually provide environmental benefits,
rather than simply prevent harm.

General Electric, a company long associated with pollution, from building coal-fired
power plants to dumping toxic chemicals in the Hudson River, took a dramatic turn in
2005. Jeffrey Immelt, the company’s new CEO, announced a new strategy he dubbed
“ecomagination.” He pledged to double GE’s investment in developing renewable
energy, fuel cells, efficient lighting, water filtration systems, and cleaner jet engines.
Immelt’s reason was that clean technologies represented a huge commercial oppor-
tunity. “Increasingly for business,” he said, “green is green.” In 2013, the company
reported that it had invested $12 billion in clean tech research and development and
had earned $160 billion in revenues from its ecomagination portfolio of products and
services; the following year, it committed to another $10 billion investment.29

Evidence suggests that many companies are now moving quickly toward the final stage
in this model. Surveys of senior executives by McKinsey Global document a notable shift
from 2012, when the main reason cited for addressing sustainability was to “improve oper-
ational efficiency and cut costs,” to 2014, when the main reason cited was to “align with
[the] company’s business goals, mission, or values.” The more recent report concluded that
“sustainability is becoming a more strategic and integral part of their businesses.”30

28 Stuart Hart, “Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World,” Harvard Business Review, January–February 1997. All
quotes in this paragraph are taken from this article. An alternative stage model may be found in Dexter Dunphy, Suzanne
Benn, and Andrew Griffiths, Organisational Change for Corporate Sustainability (New York: Routledge, 2003).
29 “GE 2013 Global Impact Report,”; and “Natural Gas at Heart of GE’s $10B Ecomagination Boost,” February 24,
30 McKinsey Global, “Sustainability’s Strategic Worth,” July 2014.

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The Ecologically Sustainable Organization

An ecologically sustainable organization (ESO) is a business that operates in a way that is
consistent with the principle of sustainable development, as presented in Chapter 9. In
other words, an ESO could continue its activities indefinitely, without altering the carrying
capacity of the Earth’s ecosystem. Such businesses would not use up natural resources any
faster than they could be replenished or substitutes found. They would make and transport
products efficiently, with minimal use of energy. They would design products that would
last a long time and that, when worn out, could be disassembled and recycled. They would
not produce waste any faster than natural systems could absorb and disperse it. They would
work with other businesses, governments, and organizations to meet these goals.31

Of course, no existing business completely fits the definition of an ecologically sustain-
able organization. The concept is what social scientists call an ideal type; that is, a kind
of absolute standard against which real organizations can be measured. A few visionary
businesses, however, have embraced the concept and begun to try to live up to this ideal.

One such business is Interface, a $1 billion company based in Atlanta, Georgia,
that makes 40 percent of the world’s commercial carpet tiles. In 1994, CEO Ray
C. Anderson announced, to many people’s surprise, that Interface would seek to
become “the first sustainable corporation in the world.” Anderson and his manag-
ers undertook hundreds of initiatives. For example, the company started a program
by which customers could lease, rather than purchase, carpet tile. When tile wore
out in high-traffic areas, Interface technicians would replace just the worn units,
reducing waste. Old tiles would be recycled, creating a closed loop. The company
later adopted a goal of “Mission Zero”—no negative impact on the environment—
by 2020. Another initiative was to tag all products with a special label called an
environmental product declaration (EPD). Similar to a nutrition label on packaged
food, the third-party verified EPD listed the raw materials, energy use, emissions,
and waste generation associated with each product, allowing Interface customers to
make environmentally informed decisions. The company charted its sustainability
progress on its website on a graphic superimposed on an image of Mount Everest.32

No companies, including Interface, have yet become truly sustainable businesses, and
it will probably be impossible for any single firm to become an ESO in the absence of
supportive government policies and a widespread movement among many businesses
and other social institutions. However, many companies are demonstrating leadership in
responding to environmental challenges. The next section will describe actions leading
companies are taking now to operate their businesses as sustainably as possible.

Sustainability Management in Practice
Companies that have begun to move toward sustainability have learned that new structures,
processes, and incentives are often needed.

An emerging role at many leading firms is the chief sustainability officer (CSO). The first
such officer was appointed in 2004 at DuPont; a 2014 survey found 36 such officers at large
U.S. firms. Most of these CSOs reported directly to the CEO or to an individual who did.
They often supervised staffs of specialists and coordinated the work of managers across

31 Mark Starik and Gordon P. Rands, “Weaving an Integrated Web: Multilevel and Multisystem Perspectives of Ecologically
Sustainable Organizations,” Academy of Management Review, October 1995.
32 Interface’s sustainability initiatives are described at Ray Anderson’s story is told in
Ray C. Anderson with Robin White, Business Lessons From a Radical Industrialist (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011).

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220 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

many functional areas, including research and development, marketing, facilities, and sup-
ply chain management, whose work was related to the firm’s sustainability mission.33

An example is Rhonda Clark, appointed vice president of environmental affairs and
chief sustainability officer at UPS in 2014. Clark, an engineer who had formerly
managed the UPS Airlines facilities in Louisville, was put in charge of a cross-func-
tional team responsible for a range of sustainability initiatives. Among other
projects, they tested alternative-fuel and advanced technology vehicles and imple-
mented software that enabled drivers to cover their routes more efficiently—and
with lower carbon emissions. “It is just good common sense,” Clark commented.
“Once individuals as well as businesses understand the value proposition, sustain-
ability will become a way of life.”34

Sustainability managers reported that when they first took the job, they thought that
the most important determinant of success would be their subject-matter expertise—how
much they knew about pollutants, energy efficiency, regulations, and the like. But after
serving in the position, these managers changed their minds, saying that interpersonal
skills—being able to work effectively with people across the organization—were the most
critical. “I think of myself and my team as chameleons,” said AT&T’s vice president of
sustainability. “Being able to think and communicate in the same fashion as the business
unit we’re working with is, for me, the most important skill set needed to be successful.”35

Chief sustainability officers may be based in departments with a variety of names, such as
sustainability, citizenship, and corporate affairs. But wherever they are located, recent research
shows that effective sustainability management shares a number of common characteristics:36

Top management commitment. The most environmentally proactive companies almost
all have CEOs and other top leaders with a strong espoused commitment to sustain-
ability. Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, who was named sustainable business
leader of the year in 2014, told an interviewer that a different executive team could
come into the company, shut down all sustainability initiatives, wring out costs, and
drive the share price up—at least in the short term. But he favored the long-term view.
“I would like to be remembered for leaving the place a little bit better than I found
it,” he said. In 2014, more than a third of CEOs named sustainability as one of their
top three strategic priorities.37 Boards of directors have also become involved, setting
environmental policies and taking responsibility for their implementation. For exam-
ple, Prudential Financial, a financial services company that sells insurance as well as
other products, now requires candidates for the board to have sustainability expertise.

Clear goals and metrics. Another characteristic of leading companies is that they set
measurable sustainability goals and regularly assess and report their performance.
About a fifth of companies in a global survey recently reported doing so.38 By setting
specific goals, these firms hold themselves accountable (and allow their stakeholders
to do so). A particularly dramatic example is the German sportswear firm Puma, one

33 CSO Back Story II: The Evolution of the Chief Sustainability Officer (Weinreb Group, 2014).
34 “Rhonda Clark: Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environmental Affairs,” UPS press release, www.pressroom, and “UPS Exec: Sustainability is All about Efficiency,” The Guardian, October 23, 2014.
35 “Making the Pitch: Selling Sustainability From Inside Corporate America,” VOX Global, Weinreb Group, and NetImpact, 2012.
36 Data in this section are drawn from “Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the CERES Roadmap for Sustainability 2014,”, unless otherwise noted. The CERES study was based on a survey of executives of 613 companies, represent-
ing 80 percent of the total market capitalization of all publicly traded companies in the United States.
37 McKinsey and Co., “Sustainability’s Strategic Worth,” July 2014.
38 The Economist Intelligence Unit, “New Business Models: Shared Value in the 21st Century,” October, 2014.

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of the first firms to release an environmental profit-and-loss statement, covering all
significant environmental impacts from the production of raw materials to the final
sale. After the company learned that most adverse impacts occurred during the pro-
duction of raw materials, it introduced new products made from recycled content or
that could themselves be recycled.39

Employee engagement. Sustainability leaders have found they are most effective
when they involve line managers and employees from across the organization in the
process of change. The CSO of the software firm CA Technologies commented in
a blog post, “Finding ways to engage employees in the process of improving corpo-
rate sustainability was a must or meaningful change would be limited. Our internal
sustainability motto quickly became ‘Driven from the top down, energized from the
bottom up.’” The company gives “green star” awards to individuals and teams that
go “above and beyond” to meet sustainability goals.40 In 2014, 40 percent of U.S.
companies had programs in place to engage employees on sustainability issues.41

Alignment of rewards and incentives. Businesspeople are most likely to consider
the environmental impacts of their actions when their organizations acknowledge
and reward this behavior. The most sustainable organizations tie the compensation
of their managers, including line managers, to environmental achievement and take
steps to recognize these achievements publicly. In 2014, 24 percent of U.S. compa-
nies linked executive compensation to sustainability metrics, up from 15 percent just
two years earlier. (Only three percent of companies, however, linked pay to meeting
goals that went beyond legal and regulatory requirements.) For example, at Xcel
Energy, a utility that is a leading supplier of wind power, a portion of the CEO’s
bonus was linked to meeting specific sustainability goals set annually by the board,
including reductions in energy use by customers.

Environmental Auditing and Reporting
As noted earlier, leading companies not only organize themselves to achieve sustainability
goals; they also closely track their progress toward meeting them. Chapter 3 introduced the
concept of corporate social reporting and presented evidence on what proportion of com-
panies report results to their stakeholders. In the 1990s, in a parallel development, many
companies began to audit their environmental performance. More recently, many firms
have moved to integrate their social and environmental reporting into a single sustainability
report. In 2013, as reported in Chapter 3, 93 percent of the world’s largest companies
issued a corporate responsibility report; most of these covered both social and environmen-
tal issues. A much smaller proportion, however—only about 10 percent—integrated social,
environmental, and financial data in a single document. This is called triple bottom line
reporting. Bottom line refers, of course, to the figure at the end of a company’s financial
statement that summarizes its earnings, after expenses. Triple bottom line reporting occurs
when companies report to stakeholders not just their financial results—as in the traditional
annual report to shareholders—but also their environmental and social impacts.42

An example of a company that has undertaken a fully audited, integrated report
is Novozymes, a Danish biotechnology firm. The company produced its first

39 For information about Puma’s Environmental Profit & Loss Account and other sustainability initiatives, see
40 “Sustainability and Employee Engagement: A Win–Win for Business” [blog], March 15, 2012, at
41 John Davies, “Sustainability and Employee Engagement: The State of the Art,” September 2014, at
42 KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2013, at

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222 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

environmental report in 1993 and its first combined social and environmental report
six years later. Since 2002, it has produced a single report to stakeholders that inte-
grates its financial, social, and environmental results. The company acknowledges
the challenge of preparing a single report “in accordance with more than one set
of rules and guidelines,” but says that the process improves transparency and accu-
rately reflects its commitment to sustainability.43

As discussed earlier in Chapter 3, the movement to audit and report on social and
environmental performance—and to integrate these efforts with financial auditing and
reporting—has gained momentum in recent years in many regions of the world.

Environmental Partnerships
Many businesses that are seeking to become more sustainable have formed voluntary, col-
laborative partnerships with environmental organizations and regulators to achieve spe-
cific objectives, as illustrated by the Google Earth Outreach example at the beginning of
this chapter. These collaborations, called environmental partnerships, draw on the unique
strengths of the different partners to improve environmental quality or conserve resources.44

Starbucks Corporation is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with almost
22,000 stores in 66 countries. For more than 15 years, the company has partnered
with Conservation International (CI) to promote coffee farming methods that pro-
tect biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and reduce harm from pesticides and
fertilizers. For example, in Chiapas, Mexico, and Sumatra, Indonesia, the partners
have worked with local farmers to develop coffee varieties that thrive in the shade
of native trees, conserving habitat and sequestering carbon. The company has also
worked with CI to develop a set of purchasing guidelines based on sustainability
and has committed to paying a premium price to suppliers who meet the standards.
Conservation International noted that it viewed Starbucks “as a natural partner to our
work because of shared geographies: most of the world’s key coffee-growing regions
are the same areas where biological diversity is richest and most threatened.”45

Sustainability Management as a Competitive Advantage

Some researchers believe that by moving toward sustainability, business firms gain a com-
petitive advantage. That is, relative to other firms in the same industry, companies that
proactively manage environmental issues will tend to be more successful than those that do
not. Effective sustainability management confers a competitive advantage in five different
ways, as follows.46

43 Novozymes’ website and integrated reports are at For a full discussion of the movement toward
triple bottom line reporting, see Robert G. Eccles and Michael P. Krzus, The Integrated Reporting Movement: Meaning,
Momentum, Motives, and Materiality (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2014).
44 Dennis A. Rondinelli and Ted London, “How Corporations and Environmental Groups Cooperate,” Academy of Manage-
ment Executive 17, no. 1 (2003).
45 The partnership’s progress can be followed at and
46 Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate,
Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006); and Sanjay Sharma and
J. Alberto Aragon-Correa, eds., Corporate Environmental Strategy and Competitive Advantage (Northampton, MA: Edgar
Elgar Academic Publishing, 2005).

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Cost Savings
Companies that reduce pollution and hazardous waste, reuse or recycle materials, and
operate with greater efficiency can reap significant cost savings. An example is Subaru’s
automobile assembly plant in Lafayette, Indiana, which has gone to great lengths to reduce
waste, saving a great deal of money in the process.

Subaru’s Indiana factory has achieved its goal of “zero waste”: it sends no waste at
all to landfills. The company returns packaging materials—including the styrofoam
used to protect engines in transit—to suppliers, to be used again. Cafeteria scraps go
to a nearby waste-to-energy power plant. The company processes and reuses solvent
and oil. Dried paint sludge is shipped to other companies that use it to make railroad
ties, parking lot bumpers, and bicycle helmets. Leftover metal slag goes to a com-
pany that extracts the copper it contains. These initiatives not only reduce the plant’s
environmental impact, they also save the company more than $2 million a year.47

Many companies have found they are able to obtain significant cost savings by more
efficiently managing their real estate portfolios. How some companies have managed
the built environment to save money and improve their environmental performance is
described in Exhibit 10.B. One company that has benefited from this trend is Autodesk, a
maker of software for architects and other designers. The company has developed special-
ized software that enables architects to calculate the energy and water usage of proposed
designs, and to make the most efficient use of daylight and shadows. “I think [sustainabil-
ity] is one of single biggest problems we face as a civilization,” said Autodesk CEO Carl
Bass. “We are trying to give people better tools to make better decisions.”48

Greening the Built Environment

For most companies, their buildings—the offices, factories, stores, and warehouses where their employees
work—account for a huge share of their overall environmental impact. The U.S. Energy Information Adminis-
tration has estimated that commercial buildings and industrial facilities together account for almost half of the
nation’s energy consumption (the rest comes from transportation and residential use). Many companies have
realized that improving operating efficiencies in their real estate holdings can yield tremendous savings, as
well as reduce their environmental footprint.
One approach is to design buildings from the ground up to conserve resources both in their construction
and use. The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a certification process called LEED (Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design) for both new and retrofitted buildings. Adopting these standards has brought
companies many benefits. For example, Adobe, the maker of digital authoring tools, owns five LEED-certified
buildings, including its corporate headquarters in San Jose, California, which was completely retrofitted. Adobe
introduced scores of improvements—from motion sensors that turned off lights when people left their offices to
landscape irrigation linked to weather satellites, so sprinklers did not operate when it was raining. The improve-
ments cost a total of $1.4 million, but saved Adobe $1.2 million per year. “I was one of the naysayers saying, no,
green costs money, it doesn’t save money. [But] once I started seeing the cost savings, [I jumped] right up on
that bandwagon . . . because it works,” said the company’s director of global facilities services.

Sources: Rocky Mountain Institute, “Adobe Systems Corporate Headquarters” [case study], at
adobe/adobe_systems.pdf; “Green Building for a Profitable Future,”
future.html; and U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Annual Energy Outlook 2012,” at The website of the U.S.
Green Building Council is

Exhibit 10.B

47 “Inside Subaru’s Zero Waste Factory,” December 30, 2013, at The website of Subaru Industries of
America is at
48 “Carl Bass: Environmentalist, Craftsman, CEO,” February 9, 2012, at Autodesk’s sustainable building
design software is described at

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224 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

Brand Differentiation
Companies that develop a reputation for environmental excellence distinguish their brand
and attract like-minded customers. Sustainable products and services can attract environ-
mentally aware customers. For example, shoppers might select cell phones with power-
saving features, such as “unplug charger” reminders, or cleaning products formulated with
ingredients that are not environmentally harmful. Services can also be marketed based on
their environmental attributes, as the following example illustrates.

One company that has benefited from its repuation for sustainability is Intrepid
Travel. Founded in Australia in 1989, the tour operator now offers itineraries for
adventurous travelers on seven continents. Early on, Intrepid Travel embraced the
principle of sustainable development and committed to reducing its environmental
footprint, so its travel destinations could be enjoyed for many generations to come.
The company employed local guides, used public transit, offset the carbon emis-
sions of its air travel, and gave back to local communities through its foundation.
In the past 10 years, the company has grown at an annual compound rate of
25 percent. Said one of the company’s founders: “We became known as a responsi-
ble company, and responsible travel became a selling feature for Intrepid.”49

In general, promoting particular products or services based on their environmental attri-
butes, a practice sometimes known as green marketing, has not been particularly effective.
Evidence shows that most consumers select products and services based on price, conve-
nience, and quality—not “greenness.” No specific eco-labeled product has captured more
than 2 percent of its market. However, what consumers do respond to is a company’s over-
all reputation for environmental responsibility and the credibility of its communications
with stakeholders. Joel Makower, an expert on environmental marketing, concluded that
“It’s at the company or brand level that this [environmental marketing] makes sense: Why
offer a few good, eco-labeled products if the organization behind them is headed in the
wrong direction?” In his view, consumers generally do not seek out “green” products, but
they do buy from companies they perceive as responsible.50

Technological Innovation
Environmentally proactive companies are often technological leaders, as they seek imagi-
native new methods for reducing pollution and increasing efficiency. In many cases, they
produce innovations that can win new customers, penetrate new markets, or even be mar-
keted to other firms as new regulations spur their adoption.

IBM’s semiconductor chip-making plant in Burlington, Vermont, uses vast quanti-
ties of ultrapure water to clean its products. The water bill for this single facility has
been as high as $10,000 a day. To reduce costs, IBM managers devised an elaborate
system of electronic sensors to track the movement of water at every point and used
the data to drive greater efficiencies—nearly doubling the “water productivity” of
the plant over 10 years. “We did fifty different things,” reported the plant’s opera-
tion manager. “Angles of usage, treatment, energy capture, using less pump capac-
ity, capturing internal pressure that comes with the water in the line—fifty different
things.” In the process, IBM had the startling revelation that it had done more than

49 Geoff Manchester, “Why We Must Act Now on Sustainability,” May 1, 2014 [blog post], at For
Intrepid Travel’s reports on its progress on sustainability, see
50 Joel Makower, “Five Reasons Green Marketing is Going Nowhere,” March 12, 2013,

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save money on water; it had created an entirely new business of consulting with
other firms on how to do the same thing. The head of IBM’s “Big Green Innova-
tions” project told a reporter, “We think there is a big business opportunity around
managing water.”51

Reduction of Regulatory and Liability Risk
Another benefit for companies that are proactive with respect to their environmental
impacts is that they are often better positioned than their competitors to respond to new
government mandates. For example, when new rules went into effect in Europe in 2006
that banned all electronics products that included six toxic substances, including lead, cad-
mium, and mercury, companies that had learned how to make their products free of these
substances prior to the ban suddenly had a big advantage in winning European accounts.
More recently, when the United Kingdom announced that all large British companies
would be required to report annually on their greenhouse gas emissions, the companies
that had taken earlier steps to measure and report on carbon voluntarily were better pre-
pared for compliance.52 Similarly, proactively managing for sustainability can avoid expen-
sive fines and lawsuits, such as those experienced by Anadarko, in the example mentioned
earlier in this chapter.53

Strategic Planning
Companies that cultivate a vision of sustainability must adopt sophisticated strategic plan-
ning techniques to allow their top managers to assess the full range of the firm’s effects
on the environment. The complex auditing and forecasting techniques used by these firms
help them anticipate a wide range of external influences on the firm, not just ecologi-
cal influences. Wide-angle planning helps these companies foresee trends—new markets,
materials, technologies, and products. For example, Toyota, well known for its ability to
anticipate market trends, was among the first to produce a commercially successful hybrid
vehicle, the Prius. As U.S. car makers struggled—and some went into bankruptcy—in
the deep recession of the late 2000s, Toyota fared relatively well. The same sophisticated
planning that enabled Toyota to weather the recession had also contributed to its ability to
meet the public’s increased interest in less-polluting, more-efficient transportation.54 The
McKinsey survey mentioned earlier in this chapter found that 57 percent of executives said
that their companies had integrated sustainability into their strategic planning process.55

Figure 10.4 lists the companies viewed by a panel of experts as the world’s leaders in
integrating sustainability into their business strategy.

If managing for sustainability confers a competitive advantage, it follows that it should
have a measurable impact on financial performance. Scholars have begun to study this rela-
tionship. A comprehensive examination of almost two decades of data on U.S. companies
by Robert Eccles and colleagues at the Harvard Business School concluded that “high-
sustainability firms” significantly outperformed others, as measured by both financial and

51 Charles Fishman, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water (New York: Free Press, 2011), Chapter 5,
“Money in the Pipes.”
52 “A Consensus on Carbon Reporting,” The Guardian (U.K.), September 26, 2013.
53 “U.K. to Mandate CO2 Reporting for Largest Corporations,” June 20, 2012,
54 Information on Toyota’s sustainability initiatives is at
55 The Business of Sustainability: McKinsey Global Survey Results,” October 2011, at

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226 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

stock market returns.56 The most recent work on this topic has focused on material sus-
tainability issues. To explain, the term material in financial reporting refers to issues that
are relevant to evaluating a firm’s financial condition; the law requires that firms report
to investors and the public not all information, but material information. In the same way,
material sustainability issues refer to those that are particularly relevant to an evaluation of
a particular company or industry’s sustainability management. For example, greenhouse
gas emissions are highly material in the transportation industry, but of lower materiality in
the financial services industry. Building on this concept, recent research shows that firms
with good performance on material sustainability issues significantly outperform firms
with poor performance on these issues.57

A theme of this chapter is that achieving a sustainable economy and society will require a
collaborative effort among government, business, and civil society. The U.S. government, like
that of many other countries, has adopted many environmental laws and regulations constrain-
ing business behavior. These are critically important, as they assure that minimum standards
are met by all. But many proactive companies are moving beyond compliance, recognizing
that operating sustainably will help them become more competitive in the global marketplace
by cutting costs, attracting environmentally aware customers, spurring innovation, reducing
regulatory and liability risk, and encouraging long-range strategic planning. Recent research
shows that managing for sustainability pays off for companies in the long run.

FIGURE 10.4 Corporate Leaders in Integrating Sustainability into Their Business Strategy
Question: What specific companies do you think are leaders in integrating sustainability into their business strategy?

Source: Globe Scan/SustainAbility, The 2015 Sustainability Leaders, p. 13. Based on a survey of 816 qualified sustainability experts from government, NGOs, academia,
corporations, and the media from 82 countries. Respondents were asked to list a maximum of three companies. The numbers shown are the percentage of respondents who
named that particular company. Used by permission.

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40









Marks & Spencer




56 Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, and George Serafeim, “The Impact of a Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Pro-
cesses and Performance,” Management Science 60(11), 2014.
57 Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim, and Aaron Yoon, “Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality,” Harvard Busi-
ness School Working Paper, 2015.

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∙ Government environmental laws and regulations focus on protecting the ecological
health of the air, water, and land, and limiting the amount of pollution that companies
may emit.

∙ Environmental laws have traditionally been of the command and control type, specify-
ing standards and results. New laws, in both the United States and Europe, have added
market incentives to induce environmentally sound behavior.

∙ Environmental laws have brought many benefits. Air, water, and land pollution levels
are in many cases lower than in 1970. A continuing challenge is to find ways to promote
a clean environment and sustainable business practices without impairing the competi-
tiveness of the U.S. economy.

∙ Companies pass through three distinct stages in the development of green management
practices. Many businesses are now moving from lower to higher stages. An ecologi-
cally sustainable organization is one that operates in a way that is consistent with the
principle of sustainable development.

∙ Effective environmental management requires an integrated approach that involves all
parts of the business organization, including top leadership, sustainability managers,
and employees in many functional areas, as well as strong partnerships with stakehold-
ers and effective auditing.

∙ Many companies have found that proactive environmental management can confer a
competitive advantage by saving money, attracting customers, promoting innovation,
reducing regulatory risk, and developing skills in strategic planning. Emerging evi-
dence shows a positive relationship between sustainability practices and stock market
and financial performance.


Key Terms material sustainability
issues 226
(CERCLA), 212
report, 221
triple bottom line, 221

acid rain, 209
cap-and-trade, 213
chief sustainability
officer (CSO), 219
clean economy, 217
command and control
regulation, 212
ecologically sustainable
organization (ESO), 219

environmental justice, 212
partnerships, 222
Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), 207
standards, 212
mechanisms, 213

Resources Environmental Protection Agency Environmental organizations and news Green Business Network Network of sustainable small businesses Briefing for executives SustainAbility (consultancy) Blogs on green and sustainable businesses The Guardian [newspaper] coverage of

sustainable business

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Discussion Case: Hydraulic Fracturing—Can the
Environmental Impacts Be Reduced?

Hydraulic fracturing—or fracking, as it is sometimes known—has been called the gold
rush of the 21st century because so many companies and people are rushing to make their
fortunes by extracting oil and natural gas from underground shale formations. What are the
environmental impacts of fracking, and what can business, government, and society do to
reduce them?
In recent years, technology has evolved to make possible the economic extraction of
crude oil and natural gas from vast underground shale formations. In hydraulic fracturing,
a vertical well is drilled as deep as 7,000 feet before turning horizontally into the oil- or
gas-bearing layer. Operators then pump in vast quantities of water, sand, and chemicals
under high pressure to break up the shale and release hydrocarbons, which are then brought
back up the drill hole. By rotating the horizontal turns in successive passes, a single well
can reach a large area underground.
The growth of hydraulic fracturing in the United States in recent years has been aston-
ishing. In 2014, more than 1 million oil and gas wells were operating in 36 states. The
biggest fracking booms were underway in several shale formations: the Baaken (North
Dakota), Marcellus (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Ohio, and Maryland), and
Barnett (Texas).
Hydraulic fracking has a number of benefits. In 2012, the United States became the
leading natural gas producer in the world, overtaking Russia, and is predicted to become
the leading oil producer, overtaking Saudi Arabia, within the next few years. At current
rates of growth, the United States will be energy self-sufficient by 2030. The fracking
boom has created jobs, tax revenue, and royalties to property owners who lease their min-
eral rights. Natural gas burns cleaner than either coal or oil, providing a possible bridge to
a future economy based on renewable energy.
But fracking also carries serious environmental risks. Trucks and heavy equipment
cause noise and air pollution in and around drilling sites. The process uses vast quantities
of water—at least 250 billion gallons since 2005, according to some estimates—depleting
supplies available for drinking and irrigation. Chemicals injected underground include a
host of toxins. Fluid that returns to the surface—called flowback—is often further con-
taminated by radioactive substances, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds from
deep in the earth. Improper disposal of this wastewater can contaminate land, wells, and
rivers—and even cause earthquakes. Methane can be released at multiple stages in the
fracking process, powerfully contributing to climate change. Wildlife habitat is destroyed
as forests and fields give way to industrial drilling sites.
In 2015, the Department of the Interior issued new regulations governing hydraulic
fracturing on public and tribal lands. The new regulations required companies to disclose
the chemicals they used and set stricter rules for the storage and disposal of wastewater,
among other provisions. States, which had jurisdiction over fracking on private and state-
owned land, had taken a wide range of approaches. At one extreme, two states—Vermont
and New York—had banned fracking outright. In announcing the decision, the health com-
missioner of New York said, “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even
known.” At the other extreme, government oversight in North Dakota—site of a huge oil
boom—was considered highly permissive; in fact, the state’s top environmental regulator
described himself on a radio show as “not a regulations guy.” Some states had charted
a middle course; California, for example, implemented regulations in 2015 that allowed
fracking but required strict monitoring of groundwater and air quality near wells.

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228 Part Four Business and the Natural Environment

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Chapter 10 Managing for Sustainability 229

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As the practice of hydraulic fracturing spread, some companies experimented with new
technologies to extract oil and gas with less environmental damage. Halliburton developed
solar-powered storage silos and natural gas–fueled pumps, reducing on-site emissions.
Southwestern Energy installed infrared cameras to detect fugitive methane emissions, so
leaks could be plugged. General Electric tested a system that enabled water to be treated
and reused on site, and GasFrac, a Canadian company, introduced a fracking method that
used no water at all.
Said a professor who studied these trends, “[It is] the same as with any industry—if you
come out with a game-changing technology, you can get in the market first and ride that.”

Sources: “New Federal Rules are Set for Fracking,” The New York Times, March 20, 2015; “Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans
Fracking in New York State,” The New York Times, December 17, 2014; “The Downside of the Boom,” [series of articles], The
New York Times, various dates starting November 22, 2014; “American Power and the Fracking Boom,” October 1, 2014,; “Fracking the USA: New Map Shows 1 Million Oil, Gas Wells,” March 27, 2014,;
“Green Fracking? 5 Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy,” National Geographic, March 21, 2014; Environment America
Research and Policy Center, “Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level,” October
2013. Maps showing the distribution of fracking wells in the United States are available online at


1. What is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and what are its costs and benefits?
2. Using the classification system presented in this chapter, what type(s) of pollution is

(are) generated by fracking?
3. Using the classification system presented in this chapter, what type(s) of government

regulation has (have) been used to address the concerns you identified in question 1,
and which do you think would be most effective?

4. What are the benefits to companies of moving beyond compliance and developing more
sustainable methods of fracking?

5. What factors might influence a company to use more or less environmentally responsi-
ble methods of fracking?

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Business and Technology

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The Role of Technology

Technology is an unmistakable economic and social force in both business and the world where we
live. Global and local communications, business exchanges, the science that affects the quality of our
lives, and the simple tasks that make up our daily lives are all significantly influenced by technology.
Whether we are at home, in school, or in the workplace, emerging technological innovations have
dramatically changed how we live, play, learn, work, and interact with others, raising important social
and ethical questions for business.

This Chapter Focuses on These Key Learning Objectives:

LO 11-1 Defining technology and its characteristics.

LO 11-2 Recognizing how technology has evolved throughout history and what fuels technological innova-
tion today.

LO 11-3 Analyzing and assessing how technology impacts organizations and individuals in society.

LO 11-4 Recognizing the benefits, as well as the ethical and social challenges, that arise from technological
breakthroughs in science and medicine.

LO 11-5 Examining how technological innovations change the way organizations operate.

LO 11-6 Evaluating the emerging ethical challenges raised by the increased presence of technology in our

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In 2014, flooding devastated the Kashmir region in South Asia. Thousands of resi-
dents were presumed hurt and in need to medical treatment, and even more were
stranded and required assistance. Rescue efforts were hampered since floodwaters
inundated ground-floor equipment rooms for most of the region’s telecommunica-
tion service providers, crashing cellular telephone networks across the state. Local
officials had no way to contact the federal government, or one another, or the mili-
tary troops in charge of rescue operations. Though the army had satellite phones,
they were of little help without knowing where people were waiting for rescue.
There was only one place where information was flowing—and that was on social
media. The relief forces turned to Twitter and other social media networks and
began to screen the tens of thousands of messages being posted to identify where
people most urgently needed emergency assistance. In a near communications vac-
uum, 3G Internet connections remained usable and enabled more than 130,000 peo-
ple to be rescued from the flood zone.1

Even a few years earlier, these dramatic rescues would have been impossible. But
mobile phones and the cellular networks that supported them had spread rapidly across
South Asia, even into remote rural areas, connecting people as never before. In the past
two or three decades, the rate of technology change has been extraordinary, encompassing
the wireless revolution, the ability to process enormous amounts of data, and smart man-
ufacturing. Today, processing power and data storage are virtually free in the cloud, and a
simple handheld iPhone has the same computing power as the room-sized IBM mainframe
computer of the 1970s. Utilizing new materials—such as metal alloys, graphene (instead
of silicon) transistors, and meta-metals that possess properties not found in nature—will
enable engineers to design and build from the molecular level, radically improving quality
and reducing waste. The wireless revolution enables billions of people to communicate,
socialize, and trade in real time. How we embrace and use technology is also changing

Technology is a major factor in our lives, helping us communicate with others around
the world and across town, providing new opportunities for business to promote its activi-
ties, and improving the quality of our lives. But what are the consequences of the extraordi-
narily rapid pace of technological change? Has technology replaced human contact and, if
so, what are the consequences of this change in how we relate to others? Who decides what
technology should emerge and dramatically affect our lives? Should businesses be allowed
to use technology freely or should there be some constraints on its use by business? Who
should determine what these constraints are?

Technology Defined

Technology is a broad term referring to the practical applications of science and knowledge
to commercial and organizational activities. The dominant feature of technology is change
and then more change. As discussed at the beginning of this chapter, new technological
breakthroughs are again changing our lives. Sometimes the pace of change is so fast and
furious that it approaches the limits of human tolerance, and people lose their ability to
cope with it successfully. Although technology is not the only cause of change in society, it
is a primary cause. It is either directly or indirectly involved in most changes that occur in
society, as noted in a recent article in Foreign Affairs:

1 “Embrace of Social Media Aids Flood Victims in Kashmir,” The New York Times, September 12, 2014,

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“Technology has sped globalization forward, dramatically lowering communication
and transaction costs and moving the world much closer to a single, large global
market for labor, capital, and other inputs to production. Even though labor is not
fully mobile, the other factors increasingly are. As a result, the various components
of global supply chains can move to labor’s location with little friction or cost.”2

Another feature of technology is that its effects are widespread, reaching far beyond
the immediate point of technological impact in unpredictable ways. Technology ripples
through society until every community is affected by it.

A final feature of technology is that it is self-reinforcing. As stated by Alvin Toffler,
“Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.”3 This