The current relevancy of social responsibility

In Milton Friedman’s article regarding firms’ social responsibility, he does not believe this responsibility is to give to charities, help out the surrounding communities or look out for the greater good of its employees or customers, rather a firm’s social responibility is simply to generate profit. This article was written in 1970. This was a time when there was political and social unrest in the world. The article might have been relevant for that period in time. It was more so the mentality of look out for yourself. Presently, the world is in a state of unrest as well. There are wars, political unrest, debt problems and the US could be headed for another recession. All of these things could negatively impact a society and support that mentality of look out for yourself, but society no longer works that way. Individuals as a whole are more giving and care more about social responsibility regarding the greater good of the community. To give to charities and to look out for customers and employees is the status quo of a firm nowadays. Companies such as Toms are praised for their business model of generating profit but also looking out for the greater good of society. Freidman’s article just does not seem relevant to the current status quo in society.

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2 Responses to The current relevancy of social responsibility

  1. katiebaum13 says:

    I completely agree with you in this post. I think you took an interesting approach in looking at the article. After I read the article, I quickly disagreed with the article and felt that a firm’s social responsibility was not only to generate profit. I felt that it was much more important for a firm to be more socially involved with society and giving back. By doing this they will be able to connect with their stakeholder’s and create a community with them, because after all, it is them who are giving them their business and enabling them to make profits. After reading your blog, it made me realize that they were not completely wrong. At a certain point in time when our economy was growing, it did make sense that a firm’s only social responsibility was to make a profit, but now as things have changed, it is not just making a profit that it is a firm’s social responsibility.

  2. I agree with Katie in thinking that your analysis of how times have changed the responsibilities of businesses is really neat! I hadn’t thought in this way from reading the article and thus enjoyed your explanation immensely. However, I have one question: you say that in the 70s (when the article was written) the world was in a state of unrest and that it is again, similarly, in a state of unrest, but contrastingly, that the social responsibility of a business is different now. So what exactly do you think the world’s unrest has to do with the social responsibility of a business?

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