Articles & Blogs on the Ethics of Markets / Economics / Business

To Get Companies to Take Action on Social Issues, Emphasize Morals, Not the Business Case

“We’ve seen the business case for a plethora of social issues: increasing diversity, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, corporate philanthropy, corporate volunteering programs, reducing poverty, and treating employees well. Yet some have questioned whether we always have to make the business case. For example, don’t many organizational leaders want to improve society as an end in itself? Research also shows the business case can activate a leader’s “economic schema,” or a tendency to make decisions solely from an economic viewpoint, which can lead to less compassionate behavior. So we set out to scientifically study whether the business case or the moral case for combatting social problems was most persuasive to managers.”

It’s Unanimous: Economists’ Poll Says We Can Fix the Banks. But That Doesn’t Mean We Will

“After three years and 35 polls, the Economic Society of Australia has received its first-ever unanimous response to a survey question. It asked just over 50 of Australia’s leading economists to respond to this statement: There is no way to significantly increase the degree to which Australian retail banks act in the interests of consumers.
Twenty did. All rejected the proposition that nothing could be done. But there was widespread disagreement about what should be done.”

Oil Execs Should Be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity, Essayist Kate Aronoff Argues

A new essay published in Jacobin argues that the time has come to try the executives of oil companies for crimes against humanity as a result of their actions promoting climate change. There is a legal precedent, as the heads of several German companies were tired for such crimes after WWII. Even if it never comes to pass, discussing the idea could give us a sense of what steps to make the world a greener place are possible.”

What Is Socialism Like in Scandinavia?

“The American left and right often point to Scandinavian countries as examples of what government regulation can do, for good and bad. But are they actually socialists? How do their economies work? While stealing their social structures and trying to implement them elsewhere probably won’t work, they do offer an example of a kinder, gentler capitalism.”

Yes, Sustainability Can Be a Strategy

“In recent years, a growing number of companies around the world have voluntarily adopted and implemented a broad range of sustainability practices. The accelerating rate of adoption of these practices has also provoked a debate about the nature of sustainability and its long-term implications for organizations. Is the adoption of sustainability practices a form of strategic differentiation that can lead to superior financial performance? Or, is it a strategic necessity that can ensure corporate survival but not necessarily outperformance?”

What TV Comedy ‘The Good Place’ Tells Us about Why Banks and Other Corporations Do Bad Things

The Good Place, in case you don’t know, is about a happy afterlife accessed through earning enough life points from good deeds (bad deeds get point reductions). […] What The Good Place suggests to us about individuals is also applicable to companies: it is getting harder to be good. The bigger a corporation gets the more complex its business becomes. It is exposed to volatile markets and disruptive technologies. Its supply chains are likely to span the globe. There is so much more information to consider.”

Freedom of Choice – Not Competition – Is What Sets Capitalism Apart

“Capitalism has often been described as ‘a system of competition’ by its adversaries, or a system ‘based on competition.’ Naturally, this assertion is usually coupled with a spirited oration on how this ‘tooth ‘n’ nail’ competition psychologically corrupts us — pitting man against man in a ‘race to the bottom.’ Many of capitalism’s most vocal advocates have themselves imbibed this premise uncritically. […] In my view, this is a mistake.”

Envisioning Real Utopias from within the Capitalist Present – Erik Olin Wright Remembered

“It is not uncommon for advocates of a socialist alternative to capitalism to hear others say ‘it’s a nice idea but it does not work in practice’, or that the Soviet experience proved, once and for all, that capitalism is the best socio-economic model we can get. Erik Olin Wright, who died on January 23 2019, begged to differ. Wright devoted his career as a sociology professor […] to breathing new life into the study of alternatives to capitalism. He did so with a consistent concern, namely to harness social scientific reasoning to construct a better socio-economic system.”

What Caused Hyperinflation in Venezuela: A Rare Blend of Public Ineptitude and Private Enterprise

“Imagine going to the store and finding that nothing has a price tag on it. Instead you take it to the cashier and they calculate the price. What you pay could be twice as much, or more, than an hour earlier. That’s if there is even anything left in stock. This is the economic reality that underpins Venezuela’s current ‘political crisis’ – though in truth that crisis has been going on for years.”

Six Questions Australian Banks Need to Answer to Regain Trust

“After today’s Banking Royal Commission’s final report it may seem as if it is impossible for banks to regain trust. But it is possible, as I know from working with prominent British and European banks after the global financial crisis, taking part in policy meetings at the UK parliament about how to restore trust, and researching cases of trust repair. Here are the six most important questions our banks will need to answer for their stakeholders to regain trust”

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