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Sustainable Development In The Business

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Question 1: Should business behave more sustainably or should they concentrate on growing profits? Is CSR a marketing tool that companies use to improve their reputation or distract attention from various unethical practices they engage in? Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of CSR as a way of encouraging business to behave more sustainably, using appropriate example.     The prime objective of companies in business is to gain profit. However in recent times, companies have realized that they should focus on long term benefits and sustainable growth. CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the ways by which sustainable development can be achieved. One of the classical theories would suggest that businesses should concentrate on growing profits and the first objective of companies in any industry should be to gain profits. The new theory would suggest that companies should also look for ways to give back to society. It means that companies should look for the ways by which they can attain profit without disturbing the environment and social balance. The businesses can not have any single statement or direction that can resolve the dilemma between the ‘profit making’ and ‘sustainability’. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the time has come when companies should look for a more balanced approach that can focus on both the aspects of ‘growing profits’ and ‘sustainability’. The time has come when ‘profit making’ and ‘sustainability’ should not be considered as two different phases of a coin. Therefore companies should focus on ‘profit making’ and ‘sustainability’ together. Having said that, it is also true that corporations should never leave the core function of profit making, the steps towards the sustainability should only help corporations to generate more profit. A strong debate exists between the real implications of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Many experts have believed that CSR is just another marketing tool while some other believes that CSR does have real value. The harsh fact is that the CSR is one of the last things that is at the agenda of corporations. It all started as a marketing tool only. In fact corporations would not be able to survive in the industry by focusing first on CSR. It is correct that corporations carry certain social responsibility but this responsibility comes after the core business function of corporations. In the current environment of cut throat competition, it would not be incorrect to say that CSR is more of a marketing tool that is used by corporations to improve their reputation and distract attention from various unethical practices that they engage in. For example, large companies like KFC have been doing certain CSR initiatives only to ensure that people do not blame them for killing of animals. There are various reports about the unethical practices adopted by KFC but somehow, these practices are covered under the umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility. Coca-Cola is another brand that is reported to spend a lot on CSR activities but in the end Coca-Cola is also accused of using child labor in the developing nations such as India and China. The harsh truth is that CSR has evolved as a marketing tool that helps organization to improve their competitive position by doing something different from their competitors.     As a concept, CSR is a powerful concept. CSR helps organizations to realize that profit making should not be the ‘only’ goal of corporations. It is also correct that CSR encourages businesses to behave more sustainability. For example, automobile companies like Toyota and Ford have realized that pollution impact of gases emitting from their vehicles eventually pollute the surrounding that is not good for society. The sustainable development effort put by these organizations is eventually helping these organizations to grow their business. People have also appreciated the CSR activities from large corporations like Walmart and Microsoft. These large corporations have also realized that they would not be able to sustain in the long term if they do not focus on sustainable development. Eventually the objective of corporations is to improve their profit and this can happen only when end consumer is able to develop and grow in long term. The associated weaknesses of CSR as a way of encouraging business are that the activities of CSR may require some initial investment. The corporations should be able to spend some money initially in order to derive the long term benefits. The initial expenditure does act as deterrent for corporations to involve in CSR activities. Also, large organizations can afford the initial investment or short term loss but mid-size and small scale industries can afford the sustainable development when they have to spend some amount. Question 2: How can market based instruments such as tradable carbon permits, encourage business to become more sustainable.
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