The more money, the bigger the size…the less control and the less ethical

When considering this statement, thoughts of corporate malfeasance committed by the largest multi-national entities (MNEs) come to mind – from the Enron scandal in 2001 which led to the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act 1– to the BP oil spill in April, 2010, which has now escalated to myriad lawsuits filed by the U.S. government, state agencies, individuals, and businesses.  Modern-day commentators and critics have asserted the "bottom line" will always be the driving force of businesses, regardless of labor exploitation, product inferiority, environmental degradation, and non-allegiance to any nation.  In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars in fines assessed by the U.S. government alone against a substantial number of MNEs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) over the last decade, perhaps credence should be given to this pronouncement: "Corporations have neither bodies to be punished nor souls to be damned."2

Clearly, the current business community has not eschewed the Friedman economic paradigm, but there are refreshing examples of business leaders championing social responsibility and environmental stewardship as the second and third prongs of the metrics used to measure the success of any business.  This type of leadership is not only inspiring but has become increasing attractive to more of the investor community. Companies have begun to evaluate their operations that extend beyond merely increasing their net profit, and are demonstrating significant community involvement, environmental respect, and equity in labor practices. Ostensibly, these other metrics of gauging business success may truly be disingenuous and undertaken solely for the purpose of marketing as opposed to representing a serious, concerted effort to discern how that business entity could be a better world citizen. Other changes of the corporate paradigm may come as a result of government sanctions or enactment of relevant rules and statutes.  Some business leaders may effect changes as a means of atonement of past bad practices.  

But others have displayed a greater sense of commitment, transcending empty praise.

The articles in this issue will allow you to arrive at your own conclusions.

─ Elizabeth Gingerich, Editor

1 Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also referred to as The Public Company Accounting Reform and Corporate  Responsibility Act, (January    5, 2009, 15 U.S.C. Chapter 98).

2 J. Poynder, J. (1844). Lord Chancellor Thurlow (c 1775).  Literary Extracts I. 268.