Business and society are among the basic concepts that I learned in module 1. Besides studying their theoretical aspects, I also undertook journaling activities related to these concepts. These journaling activities enhanced my awareness and understanding of the influence, obligation, and varying levels of impact that business and society have on each other.
As mentioned, this course journaling activities enhanced my awareness of the interdependency between business and society. Notably, business’s activities influence communities while society’s practices also affect the business environment. For example, in one of the activities in module 1, I explored the impact of the closure of the cod fisheries on Canada’s east coast by Ottawa and salmon fishing restrictions on the west coast (“Ottawa closes East Coast,” 2003). This government directive directly impacted businesses because a majority of the cod fishing entities were closed. The closure of these entities, in turn, threatened the society’s culture as a majority of the coastal communities had practiced cod fishing for generations. Other activities in module 2 also proved the obligations that businesses owed to society. For example, it was evident that companies owed an ethical obligation to surrounding communities besides providing goods and services. In essence, these journaling activities revealed the interdependence and responsibility of business and society.
The journaling activities also influenced my understanding of the varying level of influence that society and business may have on each other. For example, in one of my activities in module 3, I explored the level of commitment of a transnational company to society. Findings from my activity revealed that unlike a domestic firm, an international company might have a more significant influence on the broader global community and external stakeholders such as foreign countries in which it operates. Similarly, an activity entailing PepsiCo’s operations revealed the varying degree of influence the society may have on business. For example, in a journaling activity in module 4, I examined PepsiCo’s battle against the shareholders’ ballot to prevent the shareholders from voting on the firm’s responsibility to world scarcity issues. This activity enhanced my understanding of the powerful influence that many stakeholders in society would have on a business compared to just a few non-vocal individuals. Arguably, unlike several stakeholders, a single stakeholder would not pose a significant threat to a firm such as PepsiCo.
In essence, journaling activities in modules 1, 2, 3, and 4 influenced my understanding and awareness of the varying influence that multiple stakeholders in society would have on business. The activities also enhanced my knowledge of business and society’s interdependence and the impact of one on the other. Notably, it was evident that business changes could affect a society’s culture.
As learned in module 1, conflict or confluence of stakeholder needs, wants, expectations, and perspectives is a common issue in the business environment. These conflicts mainly stem from the interrelationship of the three systems; business, society, and government. Notably, each of the three components has varying needs, wants, and expectations that may not be congruent. Based on a review of the course activities and speaking from the government’s point of view, I perceive balancing the former’s performance to meet the diverse needs, wants, expectations, and perspectives as the primary challenge of dealing with the confluence of interest.
The core challenge of dealing with the stakeholder’s conflict is striking a balance for all their needs. For example, in one of my journaling activities, I explored the challenges of the conflict of interests arising from the conservative regulatory process established by the Canadian government on the biotechnology sector. Notably, scholars note that industry insiders viewed the patents and research and approvals’ conservative regulatory process as a hindrance to progress (Robin, 2003). Conversely, the government established these processes to protect consumers’ well-being during the pharmaceuticals screening and ensure that the products were safe before entering the market. This activity substantiated the challenge of balancing the diverse needs of various consumers.
As the course readings suggest, the government has to protect citizens’ welfare by establishing such biotechnology policies. On the other hand, the government has a role in promoting economic success among firms by removing any procedures that may inhibit their smooth functioning. However, the primary challenge lies in balancing the needs and expectations of these highly diverse stakeholders. Arguably, the government may not satisfy both needs because such an attempt would benefit one stakeholder at another party’s expense.
Unfortunately, ignoring or failing to address stakeholder interests adequately may have several ramifications on the involved parties. For example, ignoring stakeholders’ interests may compromise an entity’s projects’ success from a business perspective. This view is supported by prior studies that showed that stakeholder management is the key to improving projects’ success rate (Zarewa, 2019). Arguably, a business’s failure to address all internal and external stakeholders’ interests may lead to a lack of stakeholder buy-in during projects and ultimate failure of the same. Moreover, ignoring stakeholders’ interests, such as employees’ laments, may lead to the loss of a talented pool of subordinates. For example, businesses’ failure to address concerns that employees may have regarding the working environment’s safety and remuneration may drive the latter to seek employment elsewhere. Besides, failure to address consumers’ and society’s interests may adversely affect a firm’s profitability. In essence, ignoring or failing to address stakeholders’ interests and expectations can adversely affect a firm’s performance and profitability.
Among the exciting concepts that I learned in module 1 is the “circles of reflection.” According to the course readings, the “circles of reflection” is an ideal way of reflecting on the impact of different issues influencing businesses, governments, stakeholders, society, and other entities. In essence, the use of “circles of reflection” can affect one’s perspective by enabling them to take a broader rather than narrow view on an issue, as was in the case of my analysis in this course.
Based on the module readings and reflection of my activities, it is evident that the use of “circles of reflection” can affect my perspective of an issue by enabling me to analyze it from a broader and several stakeholders’ view rather than a narrow lens. For example, in one of the activities, I explored the effect of climate change in present times. By considering the “circles of reflection,” I got a better view of this issue from different stakeholder’s perspectives. Notably, it became clear that climate change directly impacted my community, domestic businesses, the government, and other global communities. For example, climate change directly impacted my community by increasing the temperatures leading to frequent wildfires and ranches damages, which are a significant contributor to my population’s economic activities. Moreover, the damages caused by the fires affected the government and businesses because they could not collect adequate income from taxes generated from the community’s economic activities and the sale of products bought from the ranches. Furthermore, it became clear that Canada’s climate change also impacted global communities that experienced higher temperatures and changes in ocean sea levels that resulted in flooding.
Fundamentally, the use of “circles of reflection” enhanced my understanding of the broader implication of real-life issues. Notably, it enabled me to understand the manner in which a problem such as climate change directly impacted my community, businesses, government, and other stakeholders. The tool also helped me understand the implication of similar issues on other external stakeholders such as foreign nations globally.
Part B: Forces and Influences
Ethics and social responsibility are critical aspects of any successful business today; firms that adopt the two practices build a good reputation, leading to more sales and profits. Some scholars define business ethics as the moral principle, beliefs, values, culture, governance issues, and code of conduct for business (Sroka & Szanto, 2018). In essence, business ethics are the principles that guide a firm’s undertakings. On the other hand, social responsibility lacks a universally accepted definition. However, the European Commission describes social responsibility as a “voluntary activity where companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their operations and interactions with their stakeholders” (Sroka & Szanto, 2018, p.116). Readings from this course suggest that internal and external forces significantly impact ethics and social responsibility in business and society, including technology, globalization, and media.
An analysis of the course readings and activities reveals that technology, ethics, and social responsibility relate in that the former influences the latter aspects. For example, lessons in module 3 revealed that despite computers and other technologies having positive impacts on social and economic activities, they also generate massive solid and toxic waste and large quantities of poisonous chemicals that may pollute the environment. The readings also showed that manufacturing companies relied heavily on water, thus imposing a considerable burden on the earth’s ecosystem (Worldwatch Institute, 2003). This growing burden associated with technology has led several firms to adopt ethical policies and social responsibility to offset their practices’ adversities. For example, technological advancement enables Coca-Cola to manufacture and supply millions of beverages each day, leading to massive pollution of the environment by the brand’s plastic waste. Studies show that in an attempt to offset the public critique, Coca-Cola advances its goal of collecting and recycling about 100 percent of its packaging by 2030 (Cardello, 2019). This scenario exemplifies the manner in which external forces such as technology influence firms such as Coca-Cola to adopt social responsibility to offset the adversity of their practices.
Besides technology, globalization is also a significant external force in business and society that impacts ethics and social responsibility. As noted in module 3, globalization enables entities to expand their operations on foreign land and exposes them to new ethical standards and global social duties. This aspect is exemplified in module 2 in the case of Canadian firms and the expansion of foreign firms in the country. Notably, it is unethical for a Canadian entity to employ children below 16 years. Therefore, through globalization, other firms can expand their operations to Canada. Still, they are compelled to review their ethical standards to fit the host country’s laws governing the minimum employment age. This scenario exemplifies the manner in which globalization triggers business and society to rethink their ethics and adopt social responsibilities to fit in foreign countries.
Furthermore, media is a significant force that compels businesses and society to adopt ethics and social responsibility. This view is supported by readings in module 3, which shows that media has a unique way of generating attention and sending messages to the virtual community. For example, in 2003, the media sparked attention regarding the British record companies’ campaign and legal moves to banish online music piracy (Barkham, 2004). This media coverage posed warnings to individuals and entities involved in music piracy, which, in turn, compelled the latter to adopt ethical behavior of using the right channels for obtaining the music. Although music piracy remains a considerable problem to date, this scenario exemplifies the manner in which media plays a role in promoting ethics in the industry.
Workplace ethics and corporate social responsibility are among the critical aspects in the business environment that I learned in modules 2, 3, and 4. Notably, readings and journaling activities in these modules influenced my view about the non-standard nature of workplace ethics and the diversity and changing nature of corporate social responsibility. While the readings changed my perspective about the uniformity of social responsibility, I still consider ethics and social responsibility essential aspects in business and society today because they enhance a firm’s corporate image, attract consumers, and propels sales and profits.
The readings and journaling activities in this course influenced my understanding of the non-standard nature of workplace ethics. Notably, lessons in module 2 posed the idea that how individuals measure ethics varies from one person and organization to another. For example, in one of the journaling activities, I explored workplace ethics in Canada and other countries like China. Notably, I discovered that children aged between 10 to 15 years are engaged in labor in China, yet individuals do not consider this form of child labor a big problem (Tang et al., 2016). Conversely, while employment requirements vary from one province to another, Canada’s federal government prohibits children’s employment below 12 years without relevant consent from employment authorities. This activity enhanced my understanding of the varying workplace ethics across organizations and countries. Arguably, the minimum age of employment that may be considered wrong in Canada may be perceived as right in China.
The readings and journaling activities also enhanced my understanding of the changing nature of corporate social responsibility. For example, in one of the journaling activities, I reflected on some of the changing social responsibility in business brought about by globalization and the evolving world economy. For example, it became clear that unlike before, when corporate social responsibility was voluntary and often an extravagance, it is increasingly becoming a necessity (Allen & Craig, 2016). This change somewhat stems from globalization, which leads to increased manufacturing of goods for exports and ultimately environmental pollution from the gases emitted from industries. In turn, firms are forced to adopt environmental social responsibilities to offset their economic practices’ adversities.
Moreover, the evolving world economy, such as growing trade partnerships among countries, is slowly forcing businesses to mandatorily indulge in corporate social responsibility to satisfy these economic agreements’ policies. For example, studies reveal that in 2015, the World Economic Forum signed an open letter to world leaders urging for concrete climate action (Allen & Craig, 2016). As such, a majority of firms operating in the 150 member countries have been compelled to adopt environmental, social responsibility to curb climate change. Such policies exemplify the manner in which corporate social responsibility is continually changing from a voluntary to a mandatory exercise due to globalization and the evolving world economy.
Overall, the readings and journaling activities caused a shift in my perspective about corporate social responsibility’s uniformity. Before this course, I viewed social responsibility as constituting philanthropy, ethical acts towards society and consumers. However, the journaling activities enabled me to shift my perspective by realizing that corporate social responsibility includes diverse activities, including those implemented for employees’ welfare, such as providing a safe working environment.
Despite the change in perspective, I still consider ethics and corporate social responsibility critical to business and society today. Ethics enables firms to choose what the community perceives as right, put it into practice, and build a positive reputation. Similarly, the adoption of social responsibility among firms helps them build a positive corporate image, facilitating more sales and profits because consumers would be more willing to be associated with a socially responsible entity. Moreover, social responsibility is crucial because it fosters society members’ well-being by ensuring that the onset of adversities arising from a firm’s practices is offset with positive practices in the community.
External forces, including globalization, economics, technology, and the environment, are elements that affect a business but are beyond the latter’s control. Conversely, internal influences affect a firm’s success and are within its degree of control, such as workplace diversity and governance and corporate citizenship. An analysis of the course readings and journaling activities reveals that the two concepts interrelate; external forces trigger entities and governments to adopt governance and corporate citizenship, promote employee rights, consumer protection, employee and workplace diversity.
The synthesis of information from the module suggests that globalization is a significant trigger of workplace diversity in today’s business entities. According to Global diversity @ work (2003a), globalization requires individuals to work with people in other countries wherein cultural differences necessitate the management of diversity among employees, managers, contractors, and customers. Global diversity @work (2008a) also attributes the changes in Canada’s population and labor pool to globalization. Arguably, the ability of goods and services to move across boundaries due to globalization is a significant force that influences businesses to employ a diverse workforce to fill potential labor shortages in their industries.
Moreover, information from the course readings suggests that globalization influences governance and corporate citizenship among business entities. As averred by Post et al. (2003), when a firm launches its operations in a given community, it becomes responsible for the surrounding society’s welfare. Therefore, globalization instills corporate responsibility on firms as they expand their operations in other countries. Readings from module 3 also suggest that globalization may enable firms to avoid social responsibilities by moving to areas where such practices are not highly valued. In essence, globalization influences the adoption or avoidance of governance and corporate citizenship among entities.
Furthermore, readings from this course suggest that external factors such as technology and globalization are significant influences for consumer protection and employee rights. Arguably, the advancement in technology brings along the need for governments to indulge in consumer protection. For example, sample readings in module 3 revealed that the growth of the internet and e-commerce introduced many concerns, such as privacy and security issues associated with client information. These concerns are the key triggers for the government’s establishment of key policies that govern consumers’ information entrusted with e-commerce enterprises. Moreover, technological force is the key driver of a firm’s involvement in consumer protection by establishing security protocols that shield the former’s information against malicious damage and external cyberattacks.
Moreover, it is evident from the course readings that globalization is a considerable trigger for government and firm’s establishment of employee rights and responsibilities. As noted in module 3, globalization enables firms to avoid social and environmental responsibility. Firm’s ability to expand their operations elsewhere may also allow them to infringe employees’ rights, notably in countries where such rights vary from the domestic country. This concern accounts for the government’s involvement in establishing employee rights and responsibility frameworks that govern subordinates regardless of their location of work. For example, besides protecting citizens, Canadian laws also protect foreign workers in the nation by granting them the right to be paid for their work, have a safe workplace, and keep their passport and work permits (“Rights in the workplace,” 2018). In essence, globalization accounts for the establishment of laws and employee rights that protect foreign workers against mistreatment on a host land.
In my view, the government is a stakeholder because of its position in business and society. Notably, the government has a vested interest in the community and industries that operate within and outside its jurisdiction. As a stakeholder, the government plays critical roles in business and society, such as implementing laws, regulations, and policies that govern firms, boost economic development, and protect citizens’ social and health welfare.
Among the government’s key roles is implementing policies, rules, and regulations to govern the business environment. Notably, during activities in module 1, it became evident that the Canadian government is highly involved in regulating businesses by establishing specific policies. For example, the Canadian government implements conservative regulatory processes for the approval, research, and patents in the biotechnology sector (Robin, 2003). These processes are established to regulate the manner in which businesses in the industry undertake their activities and impact consumers.
Besides implementing policies, the government also plays the role of boosting economic development. This aspect is evident from the course activity that focused on the federal grants of $43.5 million for researchers and the $80 million allocations to create new university chairs in biotechnology (Robin, 2003). Notably, the government offers such incentives and financial help to businesses to promote economic development in the industries.
Moreover, the government is highly involved in protecting its society’s health, well-being, and welfare. The government achieves this role by establishing rules that govern business activities and their interaction with consumers. For example, during exercises in module 1, I learned that the Canadian government sets a conservatory regulatory process for research, patents, and approvals in the biotechnology industry (Robin, 2003). While this practice may be perceived as a hindrance to the sector’s progress, it is blatantly a fulfillment of the government’s role of ensuring that the products, screening, and tests conducted by these industries are safe for domestic and global consumers.
PART C: Final Reflection
Throughout this course, I indulged in journaling activities in the four modules, which helped me better understand each concept. Notably, the journaling activities helped me recognize the real and potential impact of stakeholder and personal biases by reflecting on real-life scenarios where such biases may have occurred. The journaling activities and the course readings also enhanced my understanding of how biases and differing perspectives corrupted media’s stance on some issues and influenced public opinion and decision-making in business and society.
As mentioned, this course journaling activities enhanced my knowledge of the real and potential impact of stakeholder and personal biases by reflecting on the outcome of real-life scenarios. For example, in one of the journaling activities, I used real-life scenarios of news reports to reflect on whether the news is fair and unbiased. I recalled a media bias whereby the broadcasting media outlet suddenly deleted a caption reading “violent” protests in Wisconsin a few seconds after displaying it. In my reflection, I realized that somewhat the media is also unfair and biased because the media house owners are also stakeholders with interests in certain political narratives and purpose. Therefore, the owners’ bias somewhat impacts the messages that the media houses relay to the public about political parties such as Democrats and Republicans in the United States, which may not entirely be accurate.
Moreover, the course readings enhanced my understanding of the manner in which biases and differing perspectives corrupted media’s stance on certain matters, influenced public opinion and decision-making in business and society. For example, one of the readings in module 1 focused on television networks that failed to broadcast a commercial for a California not-for-profit organization because it allegedly offended the former’s more prominent advertisers in the auto industry. This media bias influenced the public’s opinion as many were compelled to believe that the organization was anti-American because it criticized Americans for driving gas-guzzling SUVs. The unfolding of events in this scenario exemplified the way in which media biases influenced their stance on matters because despite acknowledging the environmental impact of SUVs, media failed to broadcast the commercial because it would drive away its large advertisers. This scenario also exemplified the manner in which media biases influenced the public’s opinion and decision-making on matters because despite society understanding the adversities of SUVs, they criticized the organization because the media influenced their opinion on the issue.
In essence, the readings and journaling activities in the course helped me reflect on real-life scenarios and understand the manner in which stakeholder biases impacted decision-making in organizations such as news networks, decision-making, and public views in business and society. Arguably, stakeholders are only willing to support entities with similar interests as was with the California not-for-profit organization. Moreover, media outlets’ biased messages impact the public’s opinion on such matters and ultimate decision-making in business and society.
Overall, I found all the concepts in this course interesting and very educative. For example, it was fascinating to learn that the government, business, and society interrelate as one extensive system. Moreover, it was fascinating to learn that despite being highly interrelated, the government could not maintain a balance in satisfying business and society’s needs without implementing rules that somewhat inhibited one’s practices. Despite all the topics and modules being interesting, I viewed the concept of the circle of reflection and corporate social responsibility to be the most significant learning for me because it provided an in-depth insight into business dynamics and role in society, a pool of knowledge that I will require in my future profession.
One of the most significant learning for me in this course was the circle of reflection. Learning about this concept enhanced my understanding of the diverse way of analyzing the direct and indirect impact of one’s actions on various stakeholders. This knowledge is vital to me because it contributes to my preparation for my future profession. Notably, I anticipate indulging in business after completing my doctoral studies. Learning on the circle of reflection will provide a framework to assess the impact of my business’s activities on multiple stakeholders other than those that work, or reside close to the firm. In turn, this knowledge would help me assess any adversities that may befall the broad stakeholders and mitigate them before the individuals and organizations are affected. In essence, I perceive the acquisition of knowledge on the circle of reflection as crucial because it will help me analyze business issues from a more diverse lens in the future.
Moreover, I consider the concept of corporate social responsibility as significant learning in this course because it will guide my entity’s practices and somewhat enhance its success. As learned in this course, the adoption of corporate social responsibility in an entity is a considerable contributor to increased sales, positive business reputation, and profits. The course readings also enhanced my understanding that corporate social responsibility is diverse, ranging from philanthropic acts and environmental and consumer protection. This knowledge will help me select the most appropriate social responsibility policies that align with the enterprise’s strategic objectives and long-term profit maximization and sustainability goals.
“Ottawa closes east coast cod fishery” (2003, April 24). CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-closes-east-coast-cod-fishery-1.365369
“Rights in the workplace” (2018, June 1). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/rights-workplace.html
Allen, M.W., & Craig, C.A. (2016). Rethinking corporate social responsibility in the age of climate change: A communication perspective. International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, 1(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40991-016-0002-8
Barkham, P. (2004, October 8). Record industry sues fans for illegally downloading music from internet. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2004/oct/08/arts.netmusic
Cardello, H. (2019, October 31). Can a rebounding Coke finally get ahead of its public critics? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/hankcardello/2019/10/31/what-coke-can-do-to-keep-its-leadership-fizzing/?sh=79a30d967548
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Robin, R. (2003, September 2). Survival of the fittest. Canadian Business.
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Tang, C., Zhao, L., & Zhao, Z. (2016). Child labor in China. IZA. http://ftp.iza.org/dp9976.pdf
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Zarewa, G.A. (2019). Barriers to effective stakeholder management in the delivery of multifarious infrastructure projects (MIPs). Journal of Engineering, Project, and Production Management, 9(2), 85-96. https://doi.org/10.2478/jeppm-2019-0010