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Corporate And Social Responsibility

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CRITICAL REVIEW OF ARTICLES

D. Birch (2002). Social, Economic and Environmental Capital. Corporate Citizenship in a New Economy. Deakin University, Melbourne

J.M. Darley (2005). How Organizations Socialize Individuals into Evildoing

In recent years, Corporate and Social Responsibility has become an ever increasing concern and source of community debate. It is now socially accepted that corporations have some ongoing responsibility, though sometimes ignored, to set a good example, make decisions based on social good and on ensuring positive environmental practices.

The two articles reviewed both focus on this corporate responsibility but they have very different approaches and draw very different conclusions. John Darley's article "How Organisations Socialize Individuals into Evildoing" summarises some of the factors and forces involved in creating socially negative corporate scenarios and then goes on to detail how individuals are heavily pressured by internal corporate culture, management structures and corporate agendas and can then go on to propagate the same. This article examines the motivating factors and draws some alarming and negative conclusions, implying that this corporate mentality of potential social abuse is systemic to capitalism.

In contrast, David Birch's article "Social, economic and environmental capital" mentions some of the basic aspects for what is required to achieve positive corporate citizenship, looks at some of the obstacles involved and then suggests changing how we view and perceive corporations from previous models, in an effort to better understand how to achieve these changes.

Darley suggests that all corporations "have the potential to drift into harm-doing" (p.221) because the driving motivation of all corporations is "on corporate profitability" (p.221) citing numerous cases of when these motivations resulted in disastrous effects. These examples and illustrations are effective in highlighting what happens when Capitalism out paces Social Responsibility and there are a lack of balances and checks in place.

Consequently, Darley paints a bleak picture for future improvements in the short term for Corporate and Social Responsibility and continues by examining some of the factors that influence individuals to adopt these corporate motivations to the detriment of their own social responsibilities. Factors such as diffusion and fragmentation of information and responsibility, threats and clever framing and a culture of persuasion, he suggested, could corrupt individuals over time, indicating that the potential for harm is not purely limited to corporations. He further implies that individuals have the ability to spread this type of corruption from one corporation to another, much like the way a virus spreads.

Is this realism or cynicism? I believe that the same could be said of any human interaction, as any individual has the potential to carry out social harm or illegal practices or to influence others. This does not mean that most or even many of us necessarily do so, and could also be true of corporations. Therefore examining this potential for corporations is not an effective way to address a resolution.

Perhaps Darley is correct that this type of corporate social abuse is systemic but that does not mean that the system itself cannot be changed. However there was an obvious desire within Darley's article for a change in corporate responsibility long term, but it became clear that it would be a long and hard road as the very nature of corporation would oppose short term changes.

Birch offers an alternate perspective by suggesting that if we change how we perceive and view a corporation from ownership and property to "understanding business as community..." then this "...effectively inverts more traditional ways of

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