Boston College: Corporate Citizenship at a Crossroads

Last Updated Nov 12, 2008 10:13 AM EST

Writing on the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship website, Executive Director, Bradley K. Googins, finds that, what with the meltdown in finance, corporate social responsibility is at a crossroads.

"It is clear the failure of an unregulated financial system that almost brought the house down will no doubt be followed by aggressive legislation and regulation as an antidote to calm the fears," writes Googins. "Already there have been discussions by congressional leaders and others about using this new window to mandate new measures to address climate change, implement safeguards for food, toys and prescription drugs from China, and expand health care insurance mandates."

He goes on to say: "So here we are at a crossroad for capitalism and corporate citizenship. The trust in a self-regulating system has been lost and the role of lobbying by the business community has been put in a very different light."

"However, equally dangerous might be a swing of the pendulum too far toward regulation and mandates. We know already that regulations can serve as a disastrous drag on innovation and markets."

How can business avoid draconian regulations that could stifle growth? Googins offers the following:

  • Engage in "a very active dialogue in the business community, and between the business community and those of government and civil society."
  • "Create a new form of global capitalism that reflects blended values with a new respect for the role of government in providing a stronger oversight that its citizens can trust will ensure their interests are protected."
  • Restore "faith to damaged and disillusioned employees, customers, suppliers and communities-- guided by active leadership, and infused with basic virtues such as humility, authenticity and accountability."
In all, Googin concludes, these should "increase the value of capitalism to realize its potential to create a just and sustainable world."

What do you think?