What Exactly is the Social Responsibility of a Business?

5 Sep

The title of economist Milton Friedman’s article, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, is self-explanatory of what his article dscusses. Friedman has strict views of what a corporation or business’ main goal should be (maximizing profit) and it is hard to agree with him on this. When reading his article, I was shocked at how close-minded he was toward businesses/businessmen and what he refers to throughout the article as their “social responsibilities”, which he believes should only be maximizing profit. At the end of the article, his views of social responsibility are best summarized when he shares “there is one and only one responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it…engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud” (100). It is agreeable that businessmen should not be corruptly fulfilling their social responsibility, however, maximizing profit should not be the ONLY goal of a business or businessman.

Contrary to Milton Friedman, CEO of Whole Foods Market John Mackey is open-minded when it comes to the goals of businesses and businessmen and he is less critical about the social responsibility of each. When reading his article Conscience Capitalism: Creating a New Paradigm for Business, it was pleasing to see him state that “Profits are an important part of what business is about, but they are not the sole purpose of business” (94). I agree with this because money should not be the solitary driving force behind anything and he clearly does not believe that to be true either. Relating to this, he also states on pg. 84 that “Although it may seem counter intuitive, the best way to maximize profits over long-term is to not make them the primary goal of the business”. As the CEO of Whole Foods, I feel that he definitely knows what he is talking about because he has been so successful and it is incredible that he is willing to share his strategies about business goals with other hopeful businessmen.

Economist Milton Friedman, now deceased, was “born July 31, 1912, in Brooklyn, N.Y.” (Milton Friedman-Biographical). He won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1976 for his “contributions to consumption analysis and to monetary history and theory, including observations of the complexity of stabilization policy” (Milton Friedman- Facts). His article, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, was published in The New York Times Magazine on September 13, 1970 (97). The mission statement of his article is literally the title of the article. He wants to prove to the audience that the only social responsibility that a business should be faced with is that of maximizing the profit gained by that business.

 Works Cited

Milton Friedman-Biographical”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 5 Sept 2013.

Milton Friedman-Facts”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 5 Sept 2013.

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