One of the essential areas covered in this course was business, government, and society. Most notably, information from the course materials built on the idea that business and society are interrelated in the sense that they influence each other. The journaling activities conducted in this area influenced my awareness of the interrelationship between business and society and the varying magnitude of influence that society may have on business by demonstrating business cases that reflect this aspect.
The activities in module one enhanced my understanding of the manner in which business and society influence each other through the use of prior business scenarios. Most notably, through journaling activities, it became clearer that, to a more considerable extent, society influences the success of businesses while the latter shapes the living standard of individuals in communities. For example, I focused on organizations that have experienced losses in the past due to society’s reaction to their unethical practices. Nike is such a company that lost 15% of its value in the stock and experienced an 8% sales decline after allegations of physical and verbal abuses of workers, and exploitation of foreign labor (Reisinger, 2001). This case scenario exemplified the manner in which society may negatively influence the operations of a business, especially if the latter is involved in unethical practices.
Furthermore, the activities in the modules enhanced my understanding that businesses also influence societies in multiple ways. One, enterprises innovate solutions for problems facing communities or meet consumer needs within and outside a country. For example, as noted in module one, organizations often monitor trends and interests in consumers and invest heavily in the production of goods that satisfy their needs. Second, it also became evident that businesses impact society by creating employment that adds value and a sense of self-worth among employees. For example, from Nike’s case scenario, despite the company exploiting foreign labor, it also created employment for individuals that worked in its manufacturing plants. These and other case scenarios in the module enhanced my understanding that businesses influence society by creating employment, satisfying consumer needs, and offering solutions to problems that face members of the public.
Additionally, the activities in the modules enhanced my understanding of the interrelationship between business and society by demonstrating the varying magnitude of influence the latter may have on organizations’ operations. Most notably, the journaling activities equipped me with the knowledge that society may only impact businesses if the effort is harnessed from multiple stakeholders, such as professional associations, advocacy groups, media, and coalitions, rather than when an individual acts independently. For example, in the case of Nike, it became apparent that society was able to sway the clothing giant through harnessing power from various stakeholders. It is probable that if one group reacted to the unethical practices in the firm’s supply chain, it might not have impacted the organization’s operations. However, the impact on the company was a result of collective power by multiple stakeholders in the industry.
To sum it up, the activities undertaken in the modules influenced my awareness and understanding of the interrelationship between business and society by demonstrating the manner in which entities influenced communities and vice versa, and the varying magnitude of impact that society had on organizations in real-life scenarios. Most notably, the journaling activities demonstrated that businesses influence society by offering solutions to problems that face individuals, satisfying consumer needs, and providing job opportunities to members of the public. On the other hand, society influences business by determining their success or failure through practices such as boycotting the latter’s products after allegations of unethical practices. Furthermore, the course modules illustrated that the impact of society on business depends on whether the former acts independently or power is harnessed from multiple stakeholders.
In their everyday activities, organizations are likely to face conflicts or confluence of stakeholder needs, wants, expectations, and perspectives. These conflicts often arise due to the varying nature and interests of a firm’s consumers. For example, governments and consumers may have different interests in a single organization, thus creating conflicts in their expectations and perspectives about the firm. Unfortunately, dealing with the conflicts and confluence of stakeholder needs, wants, expectations and views can be challenging because of the growing global complexities and consumer access to technology that gives rise to new public issues, which if ignored can taint a firm’s corporate reputation, profitability, and overall business performance.
The challenges of dealing with stakeholder expectations are brought about by the growing global complexities which introduce multiple dimensions of stakeholders in the business environment. As opined by Weber and Glyptis (2002), the global society adds another dimension of potential primary and secondary whose needs must be met. For example, in one of the journaling activities, I analyzed the impact of global complexities in creating gap expectations and conflicts among consumers. Most notably, I found out that globalization introduces a new dimension of stakeholders, such as international stakeholders whose interests must be met. For example, arguing from a business perspective, operating in a global arena implies that a firm ought to meet the expectation of all domestic and international stakeholders. This aspect can be challenging because meeting each of the different stakeholder’s expectations would create an additional expenditure on the organization, which may, in turn, be translated into an extra cost to other dimensions of stakeholders, especially consumers.
Furthermore, the growth in technology and consumer’s access to information creates challenges in trying to deal with conflicts and confluences of stakeholder needs, wants, expectations, and perspectives. As the literature suggests, innovation in computers and technologies that prompt greater access to information creates challenges in managing stakeholders’ expectations (Weber & Glyptis, 2002). Most notably, access to information enhances stakeholders’ expectations about an organization, which can be challenging to manage, especially when a firm has multiple stakeholders. For example, in the issue of Nike and its involvement in the exploitation of foreign labor, access to information was likely the key driver to enhanced knowledge about the unethical practices among stakeholders. Considering the media coverage that the issue received, various stakeholders were more informed about the matter, and it was difficult for Nike to continue maximizing shareholder’s profit at the expense of its employees. As such, amidst technology innovation and access to information, it may be difficult for firms to deal with the confluence of stakeholders’ needs and expectations.
While it may be challenging for an organization to meet the interests of all its stakeholders, it may notably be detrimental to its profitability, corporate image, and overall business performance to ignore or improperly address such interests. As opined by Bloomfield, “the number of risks potentially contributed by stakeholders represent a greater threat to the sustained smooth operation of the company than the number of risks contributed by shareholders” (2013, p.71). Thus, failure to adequately address the interests of the various stakeholders can constrain the smooth running of a business. Also, firms that fail to take into account the interests of their stakeholders can attract adverse publicity, which can eventually translate into lower purchases and reduced profitability in the industry.
In recap, technological innovation and the growing global complexities present new challenges to firms as they attempt to deal with the confluence of stakeholder needs, wants, expectations, and perspectives. Despite the difficulties that firms may encounter in dealing with such demands, they should ensure that they do not ignore or improperly address these interests. Failure to do so can lead to poor public image, reduced profitability, and constrained operations.
One of the tools of analyzing the impact of an issue on various stakeholders learned in this module is the circle of reflection. When used in business, the tool can help managers reflect on the magnitude of the impact of their activities on government and societies. Similarly, I can use the circle of reflection in everyday life to gain an indirect and broader understanding of the impact of real-life situations such as hurricanes in Canada on several parties within and outside the affected areas.
The utilization of the circle of reflection can help me reflect on the impact of real-life disasters such as hurricanes from a broader perspective. To illustrate, in one of the course tasks, I analyzed the effect of Hurricane Dorian experienced in Canada on the country’s residents. While taking a direct and narrow perspective on the issue, I concluded that the hurricane only affected people living in Canada’s East Coast, as that was the main area hit by the post-tropical storm (Cecco, 2019). However, applying the circle of reflection changed this perspective and helped me understand that the hurricane affected several parties, including those living far from the coast. Most notably, due to the power shortage experienced during the storm, it was likely that businesses could not continue as usual. Similarly, consumers who depended on products from the east coast may have experienced delays in distribution due to the landfall that hinder transportation. Reflecting on this activity, it is evident that the circle of reflection can help broaden my perspective of everyday life issues.
Part B: Forces and Influences
Ethics and social responsibility are some of the highly researched concepts in the field of business and marketing, probably because of their significant connection with the success and failure of companies. Fundamentally, ethics are the rules that determine whether a particular behavior is right or wrong (Sroka & Szanto, 2018). It is often assumed that firms that adhere to corporate ethical behavior have a higher chance of succeeding compared to their counterparts. On the other hand, the European Commission defined corporate social responsibility (CSR) as voluntarily social and environmental activities that firms integrate into their operations and interactions with other stakeholders (Sroka & Szanto, 2018). Based on the growing research and activities from the modules, it is hypothesized that social responsibility and ethics are highly influenced by internal and external forces in business and society, such as globalization and media.
Information from the course modules suggests that globalization is a powerful external force that influences either positive or negative ethics and social responsibility in society and business. For example, in one of the activities in module 3, it became clear that globalization is a significant factor that negates the practice of social responsibility and ethics across the globe. Most notably, according to David Korten, the author of “When corporations rule the world,” globalization benefits transnational corporations at the expense of developing countries and other community-based economies (as cited in Copeland, 1999). For example, it is alleged that due to globalization, firms can expand their operations on foreign land and avoid indulging in social responsibility as may be required in their domestic countries. As such, these firms may benefit financially at the expense of loss of quality of life among communities in which they operate, as they may not be willing to invest in environmental management voluntarily.
Also, it is argued that as a result of globalization, a significant number of organizations can indulge in practices considered unethical in their domestic countries without facing any repercussion. For example, according to information in module 3, some firms relocate their activities in other countries to take advantage of cheap labor. While it is the objective of each firm to cut operational costs and maximize profit, paying very low wages may be considered unethical in their domestic country. However, organizations can easily avoid such criticism by relocating their operations to nations where such practices are acceptable. The two scenarios exemplify the manner in which globalization, as an external force in society, negates ethics and social responsibility.
Furthermore, ethics and social responsibility also relate to media in that the latter influences the involvement of business in the two practices. Most notably, the information in module 4 suggests that media provides people and institutions with unprecedented access to information about the corporate behavior, operations, and performance of entities, compelling the latter to remain socially and ethically responsible for purposes of avoiding negative publicity (Tapscott & Ticoll, 2003). For example, a few years ago, the Canadian media addressed an accident that had killed more than 1,100 textile workers in Canadian clothing giant Joe Fresh’s factory located Bangladesh (Lawrence, 2014). The unprecedented information provided by media brought to the public’s attention about the niche’s in the firm’s operations to provide a safe working environment to its workers and raised lots of concerns from consumers, which led the firm to rethink its low-cost outsourcing bandwagon. This example illustrates the manner in which the availability of all sorts of information to citizens through the help of media deems it crucial for firms to embrace ethics and social responsibility in their operations to avoid negative criticism from critical stakeholders.
In summary, ethics and social responsibility are directly related to and influenced by globalization and media. Most notably, globalization can trigger the neglect of ethics and social responsibility by enabling organizations to operate in countries that have less stringent requirements on corporate responsibility and business ethics. Conversely, media can positively influence the adoption of ethics and social responsibility among firms by bringing to the attention of members of the public about the corporate behavior, operations, and performance of domestic and international corporations.
Workplace ethics and corporate social responsibility are essential concepts in the business environment because they determine the success and failure of organizations. Most notably, it is often hypothesized that firms that face scandals associated with unethical workplace issues are likely to receive negative criticisms from the public, and to greater extents, lose consumer loyalty. Similarly, the involvement of businesses in corporate social responsibility is an essential factor that shapes a positive perception of consumers and members of the public about an entity’s operations. While I had prior knowledge of the interrelationship between the two concepts and business success, the journaling activities and readings in this course fostered my understanding of the fact that workplace ethics are a product of the collective decisions made by different individuals in an organization rather than cultures that make up an organization.
Participating in the course activities and journaling in this module influenced the perspective that collective decisions made in an organization are the primary influencers of business ethics. As noted in the course modules, each workplace consists of individuals who may have varying values and virtues. However, the set of values that govern the behavior of the overall workforce is determined by the collective everyday decisions made by individuals. For example, if managers decide to observe integrity in their everyday activities, then the value becomes a culture in the organization and, consequently, an ethic that governs workplace behavior. This information changed my initial perspective that culture influences workplace ethics and instead enhanced my view that collective decisions by staff within a firm are the determinants of workplace ethics.
However, despite the change in perspective about the determinant of workplace ethics, I still consider ethics and corporate social responsibility to be necessary to business and society because they determine the profitability, reputation, and welfare of communities. First, firms are likely to generate more profits if they observe ethics and indulge in social responsibility. This aspect may be supported by the fact that consumers are more willing to purchase products from companies that are not only responsive to the effect of their operations on the environment and surrounding communities but also to the welfare of their employees. Second, ethics and social responsibility are crucial to businesses because they shape their corporate reputation. For example, in one of the module activities, I analyzed a firm, Tim Hortons, which has been involved in corporate philanthropy for several years now. It appears that the involvement of the corporation in such acts of generosity to communities has enabled it to gain a good reputation among consumers, and it is probably the reason why the corporation continues to thrive in the market.
Additionally, I consider ethics and social responsibility to be necessary to society because they foster the protection of the welfare of all community stakeholders. For example, if a firm indulges in environmental management, it can help reduce pollution that affects the livelihood of neighboring communities. Also, firms that satisfy corporate responsibility are likely to protect the welfare of their internal stakeholders such as employees, by ensuring that they work in a safe environment.
External forces in business and society are factors that are beyond the latter’s control and may include globalization, technology, and economics. On the other hand, internal factors are elements that businesses and societies can respond to, including employee and community needs. Based on the information gathered in the readings and journal entries in this module, it is evident that external factors, most notably globalization, can promote workplace diversity and corporate citizenship.
Readings from the course modules suggest that globalization and corporate citizenship are strongly related in the sense that the former drives participation of businesses in social responsibility. For example, as opined by Post, Lawrence, and Weber (2003), firms assume responsibility for the community’s welfare when it becomes part of that community. Therefore, as globalization trigger the decision of firms to expand their operations to other countries, it also influences them to indulge in social responsibility to promote the welfare of the new communities in which they operate.
Furthermore, there appears to exist an interrelationship between globalization and workplace diversity. The journaling activities provided substantial evidence on the fact that globalization is a vital driver of the existence of workplace diversity in Canada and across the globe. Most notably, due to the ease of movement of labor and services across national boundaries, firms can source work in other countries. As a result, businesses today have to deal with a diverse workforce constituting individuals of different nationalities, race, and ethnicities.
In every business environment and society, there exists stakeholders and forces- internal and external- that influence the operations of entities and the behavior of citizens. An example is a government, which qualifies as a stakeholder in business and society because it has an interest and influence on the nature of the two environments. As a stakeholder, the government has a critical role to play in business and society, such as protecting its citizen’s welfare, enhancing economic development, and establishing laws, regulations, and policies to govern business operations.
The government’s role in business and society is to protect the welfare and overall wellbeing of its citizens. This role is achieved through the establishment of regulations that govern the practices of business entities. For example, in Canada, the government practices control over the experimentation of pharmaceuticals to ensure that the manufactured products are safe for use before being sold in the market. While sometimes such controls may cause a conflict of interests between the government and corporations, their intentions are often to protect the wellbeing of citizens.
Furthermore, the government also plays the role of enhancing society and businesses’ economic development. The government achieves this through the introduction of incentives and subsidies aimed at boosting the economic growth of entities. For example, a few years ago, the Canadian government funded the establishment of eighty new university chairs in biotechnology (Robin, 2003). This act by the government was a fulfillment of its role to facilitate economic development in the business, most notably, the pharmaceutical sector.
Besides promoting economic development, the government also plays an essential role in regulating business activities through the establishment of laws, regulations, and policies. For example, in Canada, the government imposes taxes on businesses for many reasons such as raising national revenue, regulating competition in various markets, and to greater extents, to either encourage or discourage consumption of certain products. Also, the government establishes laws such as patents whose aim is to regulate business activities and protect the rights of entities.
Part C: Final Reflection
One of the aspects that became more clearer from the course readings is the existence of stakeholder biases in business and society. Stakeholder bias refers to the inclination that an individual or group of people may have concerning societal matters. By analyzing real-life scenarios, the journaling activities helped me recognize that stakeholder biases, as well as my own biases, can harm business and society in ways such as hindering gender equality in career development.
The journaling activities undertaken in this course helped me recognize the potential adverse impact of stakeholder and personal bias in business and society by exposing me to real-life scenarios. For example, in one of the journaling activities in module 4, I focused on an issue involving gender bias in business. Most notably, I reflected on the matter involving Linda Knight, the CEO of CarePartners, who was required to obtain the support of her husband in efforts to sign in her independently founded line of credit. Analyzing this real-life case scenario enabled me to recognize that the bias that stakeholders hold against women, especially by considering them inferior to men, can adversely affect the latter’s career development.
Furthermore, the journaling activities helped me recognize that biases influence media, public opinion, and decision-making in business and society by molding stakeholder’s inclination on social matters. For example, in one of the journaling activities, I reflected on the various advertisements that are aired and rejected by media houses. During this reflection, I recognized that bias plays a huge role in determining what type of message is advertised on the media. Most notably, adverts that appear to go against the beliefs and values of the shareholders of media networks are sometimes rejected due to the existence of shareholders’ bias. Also, bias influences public opinion in the sense that people only believe that something is morally right if it conforms with their social inclination. Furthermore, the existence of bias in business and society shapes decision-making among firms, as the latter is compelled to make plans based on stakeholder’s prejudice to receive the support required to thrive in the market.
Throughout this course, I learned several new concepts in marketing and explored their application in real-life scenarios. Also, readings from the course modules enhanced my understanding of various ideas that I had prior knowledge about by helping me analyze them more broadly. Of all the concepts learnt in the four modules, corporate social responsibility, workplace ethics and the confluence of interest was the most significant learning for me as it equipped me with first-hand information on the most critical aspects of the business environment that I should take into consideration to run a successful entity.
As noted, I consider corporate social responsibility as among the most significant learning concepts in this course because it ranks as one of the critical factors that determine the success and failure of corporations. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I aim to ensure that my future business thrives in the market in which it will operate. In the course of achieving this success, it is vital to have a clear insight into factors that are likely to boost the success and failure of such an entity. As such, corporate social responsibility appeared to be the essential aspect that I should focus on in my future business, as it is through adopting the practice that my business will likely gain a good reputation among consumers and generate more profit through increased sales.
Furthermore, workplace ethics proved to be a significant area of learning in this course as it enhanced my understanding of how to create an ethical business culture that may foster the success of my future enterprise. As noted in the course readings, workplace ethics are profoundly molded by the everyday decisions made by the staff members. Therefore, the choices that I make as a manager will significantly shape the set of values that will govern the behavior of the subordinates. In that case, if I incorporate virtues and values in my decisions, my employees, regardless of their different ethics and virtues, will likely conform to the ethical culture that I build in the firm. Hence, the fact that the concept of workplace ethics explored an inner force that determines the culture and success of business made it a significant area of learning.
Besides corporate social responsibility and workplace ethics, the circle of reflection also proved to be a significant area of learning in this course. Most notably, I considered the concept most significant because it enhanced my understanding of the broader perspective that I should take as a future entrepreneur when interpreting the impact of my firm’s activities on stakeholders. As noted in the course readings, the circle of reflection is a tool that helps a business investigate the effect of its operations from different dimensions. For example, when in use, the tool will enable me to have a broader view of whether my firm’s operations have a significant impact on the immediate and international stakeholders. With this in mind, I can easily plan on measures to ensure that the welfare of each affected stakeholder is taken into consideration. As such, the circle of reflection proved to be significant because when used in my future business, it will likely foster the entity’s success by helping me make broad and informed decisions.
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