La massimizzazione del profitto è qualcosa di equo? Prima parte
Friedman’s statement (1970) that the only social responsibility of business is to increase profits, although this would benefit employees, lenders and customers too, might be counter-productive after almost 50 years, in an era where globalisation contributes to the detachment of businesses from local communities, competition is fiercer, ‘the race to the bottom’ leads multinationals to push production costs lower and lower and profit is conceived in the short-term (Porter, 2011). Moreover, as Falck and Heblic state (2007), the assumption beneath Friedman’s shareholder primacy theory, that the best possible legal framework would make social commitment unnecessary on the businesses’ side, is no longer valid, as the perfect basic order does not exist. Instead, companies should fill this regulation gap with a socially desirable conduct.
The concept of CSR challenges the profit maximisation vision. As Carroll (2016) explains it, at the basis of his CSR pyramid there are the economic responsibilities (to make profit) and the legal ones (to comply with the law) that businesses have. On top of these there are businesses’ ethical responsibilities (to do what society expects) and philanthropic ones (voluntary or discretionary activities).
Carroll (2016) emphasises the concept of ethics, which not only permeates the economic foundations and the legal expectations, but it also carries them further, as laws are essential but not sufficient. Carroll adds that in the short term ethical and philanthropic obligations and legal expenditures are apparently in conflict with the economic responsibilities that businesses have to their shareholders. However, in the long run, these expenses will lead to economic rewards.