On the Limits of “Corporate Responsibility”

On the Limits of “Corporate Responsibility”

The current interest in “corporate responsibility” arises from a mounting concern over tensions in our society and from a recognition of the decisive role corporations play in our lives. In the next decade, there will undoubtedly be considerable movement by corporations into the social area—out of social pressures and enlightened self-interest. These acts of “corporate conscience” will be viewed by many as the answer to our most pressing social problems.

The object of this article is neither to deny the positive aspects of corporate initiative in the social area nor to discourage the development of corporate responsibility. Rather, this article seeks to explore limits of the corporate role—so that the nation will not shirk its collective responsibility by unloading onto the corporations that which the corporations cannot do.


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