NCERT Textbook - Social Responsibilities of Business & Business Ethics Commerce Notes | EduRev

Business Studies (BST) Class 11

Commerce : NCERT Textbook - Social Responsibilities of Business & Business Ethics Commerce Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


CHAPTER 6
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND
BUSINESS ETHICS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• explain the concept of social responsibility;
• discuss the need for social responsibility;
• identify the social responsibility towards different interest groups;
• analyse the relationship between business and environmental
protection; and
• define the concept of business ethics and state the elements of
business ethics.
Page 2


CHAPTER 6
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND
BUSINESS ETHICS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• explain the concept of social responsibility;
• discuss the need for social responsibility;
• identify the social responsibility towards different interest groups;
• analyse the relationship between business and environmental
protection; and
• define the concept of business ethics and state the elements of
business ethics.
141 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
A business enterprise should do
business and earn money in ways that
fulfill the expectations of the society.
Every individual living in society has
certain obligations towards society. He
has to respect social values and norms
of behaviour. A business enterprise is
permitted by society to carry on
industrial or commercial activities and
thereby earn profits. But it is obligatory
on part of the business enterprise not
to do anything, that is undesirable from
society’s point of view. Manufacture
and sale of adulterated goods, making
deceptive advertisements, not paying
taxes which are due, polluting the
environment and exploiting workers
are some examples of socially
undesirable practices which may
increase the profit of enterprises but
which have adverse effect on society at
large. On the other hand, supplying
good quality goods, creating healthy
working conditions, honestly paying
taxes prevention/installing pollution
devices in the factory, and sincerely
attending to customer complaints are
examples of socially desirable practices
which improve the image of enterprises
and also make them profitable. In fact,
it is through socially responsible and
ethically upright behaviour that
business enterprises can get durable
success.
6.2 CONCEPT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Social responsibility of business refers
to its obligation to take those decisions
and perform those actions which are
desirable in terms of the objectives and
values of our society. The assumption
of social responsibilities by business
enterprises implies that they respect
the aspirations of society and would try
their best to contribute to the
achievement of these aspirations along
with their profit interests. This idea is
in contrast to the common notion that
business exists only for maximising
profits for its owners and it is irrelevant
to talk of public good. It follows that a
Mani is a young newspaper reporter and has been writing for almost six months
on malpractices by business enterprises including such issues as misleading
advertisements, supply of adulterated products, poor working conditions,
environmental pollution, bribing government officials, and so on. He has started
believing that business people tend to do anything to mint money. He happens
to take an interview of Mr. Raman Jhunjhunwala, chairman of a leading truck
manufacturing company which is known for its fair dealing with customers,
employees, investors as well as other social groups. Through this interview,
Mani develops the understanding that it is possible for a business enterprise
to be socially responsible and ethically upright and, at the same time, be highly
profitable. He then gets busy with studying more about the social responsibility
of business and business ethics.
Page 3


CHAPTER 6
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND
BUSINESS ETHICS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• explain the concept of social responsibility;
• discuss the need for social responsibility;
• identify the social responsibility towards different interest groups;
• analyse the relationship between business and environmental
protection; and
• define the concept of business ethics and state the elements of
business ethics.
141 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
A business enterprise should do
business and earn money in ways that
fulfill the expectations of the society.
Every individual living in society has
certain obligations towards society. He
has to respect social values and norms
of behaviour. A business enterprise is
permitted by society to carry on
industrial or commercial activities and
thereby earn profits. But it is obligatory
on part of the business enterprise not
to do anything, that is undesirable from
society’s point of view. Manufacture
and sale of adulterated goods, making
deceptive advertisements, not paying
taxes which are due, polluting the
environment and exploiting workers
are some examples of socially
undesirable practices which may
increase the profit of enterprises but
which have adverse effect on society at
large. On the other hand, supplying
good quality goods, creating healthy
working conditions, honestly paying
taxes prevention/installing pollution
devices in the factory, and sincerely
attending to customer complaints are
examples of socially desirable practices
which improve the image of enterprises
and also make them profitable. In fact,
it is through socially responsible and
ethically upright behaviour that
business enterprises can get durable
success.
6.2 CONCEPT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Social responsibility of business refers
to its obligation to take those decisions
and perform those actions which are
desirable in terms of the objectives and
values of our society. The assumption
of social responsibilities by business
enterprises implies that they respect
the aspirations of society and would try
their best to contribute to the
achievement of these aspirations along
with their profit interests. This idea is
in contrast to the common notion that
business exists only for maximising
profits for its owners and it is irrelevant
to talk of public good. It follows that a
Mani is a young newspaper reporter and has been writing for almost six months
on malpractices by business enterprises including such issues as misleading
advertisements, supply of adulterated products, poor working conditions,
environmental pollution, bribing government officials, and so on. He has started
believing that business people tend to do anything to mint money. He happens
to take an interview of Mr. Raman Jhunjhunwala, chairman of a leading truck
manufacturing company which is known for its fair dealing with customers,
employees, investors as well as other social groups. Through this interview,
Mani develops the understanding that it is possible for a business enterprise
to be socially responsible and ethically upright and, at the same time, be highly
profitable. He then gets busy with studying more about the social responsibility
of business and business ethics.
142 BUSINESS STUDIES
responsible business, and indeed any
responsible member of society, must
act with due concern for the effects on
the lives of other people.
In this sense, social responsibility
is broader than legal responsibility of
business. Legal responsibility may be
fulfilled by mere compliance with the
law. Social responsibility is more than
that. It is a firm’s recognition of social
obligations even though not covered by
law, along with the obligations laid
down by law. In other words, social
responsibility involves an element of
voluntary action on the part of business
people for the benefit of society.
6.3 NEED FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
What is the right thing to do when it
comes to social responsibility? Should
a business enterprise be run for the
benefit of its owners who may desire to
get as much profit as is possible or else,
it needs to be responsible for serving
the interest of other sections of society
such as customers, employees,
suppliers, government and community?
The very concept of social responsibility
implies that it is essentially an ethical
issue, since it involves the question of
what is morally right or wrong in
relation to the firm’s responsibilities.
Social responsibility also has an
element of voluntary action on the part
of the business person who may feel
free to perform or not to perform such
responsibilities. They may also exercise
their freedom for deciding the extent to
which they would like to serve various
sections of society. In fact, all business
people do not feel equally responsible
towards society. There has been a
debate, for some time now whether
business should assume social
responsibilities or not. Some people
strongly believe that a firm’s only social
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Whereas it is the responsibility of every form of business enterprise — be it sole
proprietorship, partnership, joint Hindu family, cooperative, or a joint stock
company to act in a socially desirable manner, the concept of CSR, used
particularly with reference to a company, has recently gained popularity.
Corporate social responsibility can be defined as achieving commercial success
in ways that honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the
natural environment. CSR means addressing the legal, ethical, commercial and
other expectations that society has from corporates who should take decisions
and actions that fairly balance the claims of all the stakeholders (i.e., the people
who have interest in the life of a corporate including shareholders, creditors,
consumers, competitors, workers, government and society at large)
CSR is viewed as a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programmes
that are integrated into business operations, supply claims and decision making
process throughout the company — wherever the company does business — and
includes responsibility for current and past actions as well as future impact.
Page 4


CHAPTER 6
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND
BUSINESS ETHICS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• explain the concept of social responsibility;
• discuss the need for social responsibility;
• identify the social responsibility towards different interest groups;
• analyse the relationship between business and environmental
protection; and
• define the concept of business ethics and state the elements of
business ethics.
141 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
A business enterprise should do
business and earn money in ways that
fulfill the expectations of the society.
Every individual living in society has
certain obligations towards society. He
has to respect social values and norms
of behaviour. A business enterprise is
permitted by society to carry on
industrial or commercial activities and
thereby earn profits. But it is obligatory
on part of the business enterprise not
to do anything, that is undesirable from
society’s point of view. Manufacture
and sale of adulterated goods, making
deceptive advertisements, not paying
taxes which are due, polluting the
environment and exploiting workers
are some examples of socially
undesirable practices which may
increase the profit of enterprises but
which have adverse effect on society at
large. On the other hand, supplying
good quality goods, creating healthy
working conditions, honestly paying
taxes prevention/installing pollution
devices in the factory, and sincerely
attending to customer complaints are
examples of socially desirable practices
which improve the image of enterprises
and also make them profitable. In fact,
it is through socially responsible and
ethically upright behaviour that
business enterprises can get durable
success.
6.2 CONCEPT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Social responsibility of business refers
to its obligation to take those decisions
and perform those actions which are
desirable in terms of the objectives and
values of our society. The assumption
of social responsibilities by business
enterprises implies that they respect
the aspirations of society and would try
their best to contribute to the
achievement of these aspirations along
with their profit interests. This idea is
in contrast to the common notion that
business exists only for maximising
profits for its owners and it is irrelevant
to talk of public good. It follows that a
Mani is a young newspaper reporter and has been writing for almost six months
on malpractices by business enterprises including such issues as misleading
advertisements, supply of adulterated products, poor working conditions,
environmental pollution, bribing government officials, and so on. He has started
believing that business people tend to do anything to mint money. He happens
to take an interview of Mr. Raman Jhunjhunwala, chairman of a leading truck
manufacturing company which is known for its fair dealing with customers,
employees, investors as well as other social groups. Through this interview,
Mani develops the understanding that it is possible for a business enterprise
to be socially responsible and ethically upright and, at the same time, be highly
profitable. He then gets busy with studying more about the social responsibility
of business and business ethics.
142 BUSINESS STUDIES
responsible business, and indeed any
responsible member of society, must
act with due concern for the effects on
the lives of other people.
In this sense, social responsibility
is broader than legal responsibility of
business. Legal responsibility may be
fulfilled by mere compliance with the
law. Social responsibility is more than
that. It is a firm’s recognition of social
obligations even though not covered by
law, along with the obligations laid
down by law. In other words, social
responsibility involves an element of
voluntary action on the part of business
people for the benefit of society.
6.3 NEED FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
What is the right thing to do when it
comes to social responsibility? Should
a business enterprise be run for the
benefit of its owners who may desire to
get as much profit as is possible or else,
it needs to be responsible for serving
the interest of other sections of society
such as customers, employees,
suppliers, government and community?
The very concept of social responsibility
implies that it is essentially an ethical
issue, since it involves the question of
what is morally right or wrong in
relation to the firm’s responsibilities.
Social responsibility also has an
element of voluntary action on the part
of the business person who may feel
free to perform or not to perform such
responsibilities. They may also exercise
their freedom for deciding the extent to
which they would like to serve various
sections of society. In fact, all business
people do not feel equally responsible
towards society. There has been a
debate, for some time now whether
business should assume social
responsibilities or not. Some people
strongly believe that a firm’s only social
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Whereas it is the responsibility of every form of business enterprise — be it sole
proprietorship, partnership, joint Hindu family, cooperative, or a joint stock
company to act in a socially desirable manner, the concept of CSR, used
particularly with reference to a company, has recently gained popularity.
Corporate social responsibility can be defined as achieving commercial success
in ways that honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the
natural environment. CSR means addressing the legal, ethical, commercial and
other expectations that society has from corporates who should take decisions
and actions that fairly balance the claims of all the stakeholders (i.e., the people
who have interest in the life of a corporate including shareholders, creditors,
consumers, competitors, workers, government and society at large)
CSR is viewed as a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programmes
that are integrated into business operations, supply claims and decision making
process throughout the company — wherever the company does business — and
includes responsibility for current and past actions as well as future impact.
143 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
responsibility is towards its owners.
Some others, however, hold an opposite
view and argue that the firm has a social
responsibility to serve all sections of
society who are affected by its decisions
and actions. It would be useful to
understand the arguments offered
both in favour of and against the
assumption of social responsibilities
by business.
6.3.1 Arguments for Social
Responsibility
(i) Justification for existence and
growth: Business exists for providing
goods and services to satisfy human
needs. Though, profit motive is an
important justification for undertaking
business activity, it should be looked
upon as an outcome of service to the
people. In fact, the prosperity and
growth of business is possible only
through continuous service to society.
Thus, assumption of social
responsibility by business provides
justifications for its existence and
growth.
(ii) Long-term interest of the firm:
A firm and its image stands to gain
maximum profits in the long run when
it has its highest goal as ‘service to
society’. When increasing number of
members of society—including
workers, consumers, shareholders,
government officials, feel that business
enterprise is not serving its best
interest, they will tend to withdraw their
cooperation to the enterprise
concerned. Therefore, it is in its own
interest if a firm fulfills it’s social
responsibility. The public image of any
firm would also be improved when it
supports social goals.
(iii) Avoidance of government
regulation: From the point of view of a
business, government regulations are
undesirable because they limit
freedom. Therefore, it is believed that
businessmen can avoid the problem of
government regulations by voluntarily
assuming social responsibilities, which
helps to reduce the need for new laws.
(iv) Maintenance of society: The
argument here is that laws cannot be
passed for all possible circumstances.
People who feel that they are not getting
their due from the business may resort
to anti-social activities, not necessarily
governed by law. This may harm the
interest of business itself. Therefore, it
is desirable that business enterprises
should assume social responsibilities.
(v) Availability of resources with
business: This argument holds that
business institutions have valuable
financial and human resources which
can be effectively used for solving
problems. For example, business has
a pool of managerial talent and capital
resources, supported by years of
experience in organising business
activities. It can help society to tackle
its problems better, given the huge
financial and human resources at its
disposal.
(vi) Converting problems into
opportunities: Related with the
preceding argument is the argument
that business with its glorious history
of converting risky situations into
profitable deals, can not only solve
social problems but it can also make
Page 5


CHAPTER 6
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND
BUSINESS ETHICS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• explain the concept of social responsibility;
• discuss the need for social responsibility;
• identify the social responsibility towards different interest groups;
• analyse the relationship between business and environmental
protection; and
• define the concept of business ethics and state the elements of
business ethics.
141 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
A business enterprise should do
business and earn money in ways that
fulfill the expectations of the society.
Every individual living in society has
certain obligations towards society. He
has to respect social values and norms
of behaviour. A business enterprise is
permitted by society to carry on
industrial or commercial activities and
thereby earn profits. But it is obligatory
on part of the business enterprise not
to do anything, that is undesirable from
society’s point of view. Manufacture
and sale of adulterated goods, making
deceptive advertisements, not paying
taxes which are due, polluting the
environment and exploiting workers
are some examples of socially
undesirable practices which may
increase the profit of enterprises but
which have adverse effect on society at
large. On the other hand, supplying
good quality goods, creating healthy
working conditions, honestly paying
taxes prevention/installing pollution
devices in the factory, and sincerely
attending to customer complaints are
examples of socially desirable practices
which improve the image of enterprises
and also make them profitable. In fact,
it is through socially responsible and
ethically upright behaviour that
business enterprises can get durable
success.
6.2 CONCEPT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Social responsibility of business refers
to its obligation to take those decisions
and perform those actions which are
desirable in terms of the objectives and
values of our society. The assumption
of social responsibilities by business
enterprises implies that they respect
the aspirations of society and would try
their best to contribute to the
achievement of these aspirations along
with their profit interests. This idea is
in contrast to the common notion that
business exists only for maximising
profits for its owners and it is irrelevant
to talk of public good. It follows that a
Mani is a young newspaper reporter and has been writing for almost six months
on malpractices by business enterprises including such issues as misleading
advertisements, supply of adulterated products, poor working conditions,
environmental pollution, bribing government officials, and so on. He has started
believing that business people tend to do anything to mint money. He happens
to take an interview of Mr. Raman Jhunjhunwala, chairman of a leading truck
manufacturing company which is known for its fair dealing with customers,
employees, investors as well as other social groups. Through this interview,
Mani develops the understanding that it is possible for a business enterprise
to be socially responsible and ethically upright and, at the same time, be highly
profitable. He then gets busy with studying more about the social responsibility
of business and business ethics.
142 BUSINESS STUDIES
responsible business, and indeed any
responsible member of society, must
act with due concern for the effects on
the lives of other people.
In this sense, social responsibility
is broader than legal responsibility of
business. Legal responsibility may be
fulfilled by mere compliance with the
law. Social responsibility is more than
that. It is a firm’s recognition of social
obligations even though not covered by
law, along with the obligations laid
down by law. In other words, social
responsibility involves an element of
voluntary action on the part of business
people for the benefit of society.
6.3 NEED FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
What is the right thing to do when it
comes to social responsibility? Should
a business enterprise be run for the
benefit of its owners who may desire to
get as much profit as is possible or else,
it needs to be responsible for serving
the interest of other sections of society
such as customers, employees,
suppliers, government and community?
The very concept of social responsibility
implies that it is essentially an ethical
issue, since it involves the question of
what is morally right or wrong in
relation to the firm’s responsibilities.
Social responsibility also has an
element of voluntary action on the part
of the business person who may feel
free to perform or not to perform such
responsibilities. They may also exercise
their freedom for deciding the extent to
which they would like to serve various
sections of society. In fact, all business
people do not feel equally responsible
towards society. There has been a
debate, for some time now whether
business should assume social
responsibilities or not. Some people
strongly believe that a firm’s only social
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Whereas it is the responsibility of every form of business enterprise — be it sole
proprietorship, partnership, joint Hindu family, cooperative, or a joint stock
company to act in a socially desirable manner, the concept of CSR, used
particularly with reference to a company, has recently gained popularity.
Corporate social responsibility can be defined as achieving commercial success
in ways that honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the
natural environment. CSR means addressing the legal, ethical, commercial and
other expectations that society has from corporates who should take decisions
and actions that fairly balance the claims of all the stakeholders (i.e., the people
who have interest in the life of a corporate including shareholders, creditors,
consumers, competitors, workers, government and society at large)
CSR is viewed as a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programmes
that are integrated into business operations, supply claims and decision making
process throughout the company — wherever the company does business — and
includes responsibility for current and past actions as well as future impact.
143 SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS AND BUSINESS ETHICS
responsibility is towards its owners.
Some others, however, hold an opposite
view and argue that the firm has a social
responsibility to serve all sections of
society who are affected by its decisions
and actions. It would be useful to
understand the arguments offered
both in favour of and against the
assumption of social responsibilities
by business.
6.3.1 Arguments for Social
Responsibility
(i) Justification for existence and
growth: Business exists for providing
goods and services to satisfy human
needs. Though, profit motive is an
important justification for undertaking
business activity, it should be looked
upon as an outcome of service to the
people. In fact, the prosperity and
growth of business is possible only
through continuous service to society.
Thus, assumption of social
responsibility by business provides
justifications for its existence and
growth.
(ii) Long-term interest of the firm:
A firm and its image stands to gain
maximum profits in the long run when
it has its highest goal as ‘service to
society’. When increasing number of
members of society—including
workers, consumers, shareholders,
government officials, feel that business
enterprise is not serving its best
interest, they will tend to withdraw their
cooperation to the enterprise
concerned. Therefore, it is in its own
interest if a firm fulfills it’s social
responsibility. The public image of any
firm would also be improved when it
supports social goals.
(iii) Avoidance of government
regulation: From the point of view of a
business, government regulations are
undesirable because they limit
freedom. Therefore, it is believed that
businessmen can avoid the problem of
government regulations by voluntarily
assuming social responsibilities, which
helps to reduce the need for new laws.
(iv) Maintenance of society: The
argument here is that laws cannot be
passed for all possible circumstances.
People who feel that they are not getting
their due from the business may resort
to anti-social activities, not necessarily
governed by law. This may harm the
interest of business itself. Therefore, it
is desirable that business enterprises
should assume social responsibilities.
(v) Availability of resources with
business: This argument holds that
business institutions have valuable
financial and human resources which
can be effectively used for solving
problems. For example, business has
a pool of managerial talent and capital
resources, supported by years of
experience in organising business
activities. It can help society to tackle
its problems better, given the huge
financial and human resources at its
disposal.
(vi) Converting problems into
opportunities: Related with the
preceding argument is the argument
that business with its glorious history
of converting risky situations into
profitable deals, can not only solve
social problems but it can also make
144 BUSINESS STUDIES
them effectively useful by accepting the
challenge.
(vii) Better environment for doing
business: If business is to operate in a
society which is full of diverse and
complicated problems, it may have little
chance of success. Therefore, it is
argued that the business system
should do something to meet needs
before it is confronted with a situation
when its own survival is endangered
due to enormous social illnesses. A
society with fewer problems provides
better environment for a firm to
conduct its business.
(viii) Holding business responsible
for social problems: It is argued that
some of the social problems have either
been created or perpetuated by
business enterprises themselves.
Environmental pollution, unsafe
workplaces, corruption in public
institutions, and discriminatory
practices in employment are some of
these problems. Therefore, it is the
moral obligation of business to get
involved in solving these problems,
instead of merely expecting that other
social agencies will deal with them on
their own.
6.3.2 Arguments against Social
Responsibility
Major arguments against social
responsibility are:
(i) Violation of profit maximisation
objective: According to this argument,
business exists only for profit
maximisation. Therefore, any talk of
social responsibility is against this
objective. In fact, business can best
fulfill its social responsibility if it
maximises profits through increased
efficiency and reduced costs.
(ii) Burden on consumers: It is argued
that social responsibilities like pollution
control and environmental protection
are very costly and often require huge
financial investments. In such
circumstances, businessmen are likely
to simply shift this burden of social
responsibility by charging higher prices
from the consumers instead of bearing
it themselves. Therefore, it is unfair to
tax the consumers in the name of social
responsibility.
(iii) Lack of social skills: All social
problems cannot be solved the way
business problems are solved. In fact,
businessmen do not have the necessary
understanding and training to solve
social problems. Therefore, according
to this argument, social problems
should be solved by other specialised
agencies.
(iv) Lack of broad public support:
Here the argument is that the public in
general does not like business
involvement or interference in social
programmes. Therefore, business
cannot operate successfully because of
lack of public confidence and
cooperation in solving social problems.
6.3.3 Reality of Social Responsibility
On the basis of the above arguments
for and against social responsibility,
one may wonder what the businessmen
do in reality. Do they concentrate on
profit maximisation? Or, do they
support social goals? The fact is that
one of the most important recent
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