Who Lives Well in the Global Village?: On the Complicated Choice Between “Living a Long Prosperous Life,” “Living an Awful but Short Life,” and “Living Decently, but Separately”

Who Lives Well in the Global Village?: On the Complicated Choice Between “Living a Long Prosperous Life,” “Living an Awful but Short Life,” and “Living Decently, but Separately”

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4966-6.ch006

Abstract

Global companies, transforming their own environment of functioning, are oriented first of all on changing the logic of classical capitalistic relations and behavior. In this context, these companies are trying to implement their strategies of corporate social responsibility which is essentially an additional socialized instrument limiting the regulative competences of the state. In this chapter, we assess the potential prospects of non-regulated globalization which today takes into account only the corporate interests of the largest businesses, in particular, those interests which eventually may lead to the world division into its incorporated and non-incorporated parts. This, in turn, will lead to the situation when the world markets of mass consumption are not connected at all to the local markets of resources and production factors. In the final part of this chapter we also make an attempt to present some sort of an alternative to the globalized concept – development of self-sufficient economy. The latter does not fully exclude external economic relations as such and/or exploitation of market potential or resources from foreign states. However, this self-sufficient economy makes national economic policy much more socially oriented (aiming at fairness and social justice). At the same time, it is also more expansionary when it comes to external policy (that is, aimed at “grooming” highly competitive so-called national champions, the expansion of which at the world markets must be fully supported by the state).
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The Humane Face Of “Capitalism”

Within the information economy business interest is the most transformed element of the market. During the earliest days of capitalistic relations the natural greed for gains and its result – getting income were stimulating entrepreneurs to invent newer and newer forms of profit-making and thus optimize their production processes (so that to get the economy of scale effect, invest these savings in advertisement, and thus increase sales of the readymade product, get larger share of a market etc.). But at the beginning of our century corporations are paying more and more attention not to their traditional interests of profit-making, but to the so-called strategy of social responsibility.

The idea of social responsibility of business emerged in Western economies in the middle of the 20th century (Shamir, 2011;Carroll, 1991; Knox, 2007;Henderson, 2001; Farrington ey al., 2017; McWilliams, 2001) . Its emergence was caused by too rapid development of the market and globalization of the world economic relations. Because economic development was too intense, it somehow exposed too many problems related social (un)justice, material inequality etc. Moreover, at that time it became too obvious that traditional economy and market relations, even when developed well enough to their global level, are not able to overcome the problems of the societies.

At the same time the states were not able to solve these problems due to numerous market failures, limited budget capacities and severe dependence on functioning of national large businesses. Clearly, state efforts were not enough anymore. In such a situation corporations started to undertake commitments for separate social problems and at the same time they started propagating such actions, demonstrating their own social responsibility as the key competitive advantages over other businesses, not involved in social life. Thus, social responsibility became some sort of promotion instrument, a way to reach and maintain client loyalty and at the end – a shortcut to market power.

Therefore, by the end of the previous century and millennium a brand new form of business interest emerged and formed – social responsibility.

Corporate payments on solving social problems (the most widely spread ones always were and still are: environmental issues; literacy rate of local population; compliance with labor protection rules etc.) are not directly commercialized, on the one hand, since indirectly they also increase the efficiency of intracorporate performance too and contribute to positive corporate image at the consumer market. But on the other hand, since more and more people (and companies) began to put the sign of equality between “corporate social responsibility” and “successful business” - this attitude has transformed all approaches to business interest as the core factor in production relations. Thus, today any large business is doomed to be socially responsible, at least to some extent. Indirectly, this also means that any business is also doomed to admit the state’s inability to solve the most urgent social problems. Putting it plainly, nearly all businesses today admit that state authorities are impotent when it comes to market failures.

We should also admit that the current market which is striving to solve the social problem created by itself is enormously far from those ideal markets the functioning of which was once so well described by the founding father of economic theory. Within these newer, supramarket, relation, the state, first of all, has finally come to terms with its own inability to regulate market relations anymore and overcome market failures in particular. Secondly, the norms of business social responsibility themselves are gradually becoming a commodity. Initially, social responsibility was seen by many as an additional “social tax” on businesses, but at the end of the day it became yet another instrument to change the attitude of authorities (in some cases – at the highest, governmental level) or to humiliate the competitors.

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