Three Ball State University economists have gone public in recent weeks with their distaste for corporate social responsibility as it’s practiced these days.
Philip Coelho and James McClure argued in a letter to the editor in The Herald-Times of Bloomington that trying to cater to “an amorphous and ill-defined gaggle of ‘stakeholders’” has detracted companies from what they do best, making profits. As a result, they argue, shareholders get short shrift.
In the letter, which is likely to be read by a number of Indiana University professors, Coelho and McClure also accused academics of milking the movement for all it’s worth by pestering companies for funding to research the topic.
Mike Hicks, who directs BSU’s Bureau of Business Research, maintained much the same in a column published in IBJ and other newspapers.
Another view is that companies actually end up making more profit by being “responsible.” One example might be Eli Lilly and Co.’s offering 8,400 of its workers in May to spruce up the city. The goodwill the cleanup engendered might result in greater success with recruiting workers, or city officials showing more willingness to cooperate with the company on future zoning issues.
In other words, it’s a paradox. Give and it will be given to you.
What do you think?