Analysis of ethical and legal issues of corporate evolution
Part I. Critical review
The movie made a touch upon different aspects of corporations’ place in our everyday life. Movie intended to discuss and reveal the negative sides of corporations more openly and accentuated them above other advantages, such as employment of individuals with outstanding talents, which helps them to elaborate those talents for a great scientific or technology achievement, thus contribute to humane prosperity. Conversely, movie sheds the light on those dark corners the vast majority of us as customers could not actually ever find out. Within a reasonable regard to slavery abolishment in the US in 1863 and boost of limited liability companies since the late 70’s, capitalistic freedom led a straight and easy path to business growth pike for anybody who take an advantage of upraise of petrochemical era and corporate externalization. Petrochemical industry made it easier for business opportunity hunters and industrialists top up their profits and market domination with production of new daily supportive items like house chemical goods and cosmetics from oil pesticides and benzols. Undoubtedly, it raised opportunities for business entities and enriched consumer assortment but for the cost of cancer diseases in various areas of the world, human inborn disablement and overall environmental hazard. In common moral conscious, these consequences eventually were publicly perceived as non-acceptable or those, which pose a health risk, therefore American government imposed formidable fines on corporations for failure to operate their businesses according to national and international legal standards such as environmental pollution, illegal export, exploitation of labor forces etc. Despite huge penalties, those corporations were noted as those entities who never admit the public guilt. From the perspective of publicity, this fact makes corporations to be socially irresponsible bodies, which do not have a bottom line for their domination and pursue the only purpose - increase the profit. This avid “goal” of stockholders emerged in a regulatory or, other words, manipulative hand of the corporation itself, which unites all its workers and executives into one body with identical mindset suitable for stockholder.
A great example of the total disrespect of social norms are shown in the case of Posilac Inc., whose milk products and milk itself contained rBGH and rBST toxic bacteria, which essentially were used to intoxicate cows for increase in milk supply.
The movie’s speakers and its subtext idea provide the logic path from change of laws related to private ownership form in the United States in the late 80’s to devastating consequences of corporation functioning. The more American lawyers were forging the replacement of restrictions placed on corporate form the more overwhelming harms corporations caused around the world as they gained more freedom to expand and raise their business by using chemical substitutes, cheap labor, internal proficiency policies etc. Ironically, one effort confronted another one, and under another effort the adoption of obligatory international standards, transparent policies and CSR (corporate social responsibility) restrictions are meant.
Movie line also stressed the psychological interaction of individual and corporation. The morality of two conscious entities diverges from each other until the corporate mindset strongly occupies the individual’s mind by its organizational principles, values, priorities and goals. From the one hand, we can perceive it as unethical practice of so-called “brainwash”, but from the other hand, a corporation will never make an employee and especially its CEO a reliable and loyal workforce without his or her entire acceptance and confirmation of corporate way of thinking.
The same phenomena can be addressed to other corporate stakeholders, particularly customers, which are not the receivers of product advertisement, but of “lifestyle advertisement”. From the very childhood people are getting involved in the corporate way of thinking, and in fact we become convinced that those brand products and services can make our lives better or even change them. All of us can say that this advertising method is extremely unethical, but quite easily we are used to conforming to it and accept it as necessary message.
Part II. Historical implementations and gaps
Corporate Social responsibility policy and codes evolved in legalistic standards, especially in late twentieth century, where role of sanctions and due process procedures for violations were emphasized. In fact, those ethical codes imitated criminal law by containing rule-based statements. My personal point of view on the matter of corporate “failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors” is very accurately expressed by Knouse, Hill & Hamilton III and states that “the absence of common morals and values indicated that business perceived ethics as a defensive mechanism used to stave off public criticism and intervention rather than an integral part of corporate strategy”.
The greatest gap in the business and corporate evolution not only in the US was that business industries, markets and corporate externalization evolved faster than business ethics and international standards were developed and adopted. The more conscious measures towards harmful business strategies were considered and posed later on within the League of Nations continuing with the founding of the United Nations. As Knouse, Hill & Hamilton III described, “A number of international declarations of principle stimulated the discussion of how multinational enterprises should behave”. A very significant step was made in 1977, when the Sullivan Principles were adopted towards the labor from the South Africa, which implied equal and respectful treatment of its majority black and mixed race population. Hence, these principles were adopted by major American corporations, whose businesses were involved in South Africa.
Part III. Conclusions
As the full title of the movie says for itself, the nature of corporation comprises the pursuit of profit and domination. The documentary has clearly presented that this statement is also agreed with the corporations CEOs consciousness of the business nature. This primary goal obscures the “secondary effects”, which corporate effort eventually causes unless proper and morally respectful restrictions and policies are adhered by all internal corporate entities. The damage the world of business we created may ruin or not our biosphere and lead us to the bitter end, but it is only up to world community to avoid this. In particular case of the United States, which is essentially a homeland of stock exchange and business expansion, also makes significant attempt to reshape its legal issues towards corporate business. Hence, nowadays the rest of the world as well as American population can witness the reformation of US Sentencing guidelines for corporate entities by making the promotion of ethical conduct and organizational culture the mandatory rule for corporations. National legal policy of the US is turning to more severe legal direction in the recent years; however, that are the measures, which US legal system and international legal codes were lacking, while global capitalism was growing and creating huge environmental gaps.