Business ethics issues or corporate social responsibility in means the self induced willingness and commitment by a business entity to apply ethics in conducting business and also contribute to the general economic development as well as improve the living conditions of the society where it operates (Complete Guide to Ethics Management, 2010, para3). It is mainly hedged on four themes and these include environmental issues, community involvement, and respect to human rights of all kind as well as relations with suppliers and other close parties (CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), 2010, para2). This paper discusses one ethical behavior displayed by Erickson. This is in relation to the theory of corporate social responsibility which justifies the issues qualification as ethical concerns. The theory most applicable here is the social contract theory (Complete Guide to Ethics Management, 2010, para7).
Erickson is known as the world’s largest communication and network equipment and other products to telecom operators worldwide. The company is committed to facilitating extreme poverty eradication by the year 2015 in accordance with the millennium development goals with the telecommunication sector being identified as a leader in support of such programs (Complete Guide to Ethics Management, 2010, para5). In the year 2007, Erickson engaged Millennium Villages (MV) to build capacity among communities in the developing nations. In conjunction with mobile operators Zain and MTN, Erickson undertook to bring connectivity among communities in two ways. The first channels is through provision of infrastructure for internet and communication technology to remote and poverty stricken societies to facilitate, trade, education and healthcare. Secondly, the company would help develop applications which best suit the needs of the communities in full consideration of the circumstances facing the locals (Complete Guide to Ethics Management, 2010, para7).
In doing this, the company would hold community dialogue forums which would be used to understand and internalize the unique requirements so as to develop telecommunication services tailor made for these communities (Ran, Wesley, 2006, para3).
It may be argued that the company is simply searching for avenues for growth and the expansion of its telecommunication services to enhance profits. However, the social contract theory develops an understanding of the ethical aspects of the program (Ran, Wesley, 2006, para3). The theory asserts that businesses are under the obligation to seek ways of support and if possible uplift the welfare by meeting the needs and interests and interests of the consumers and avoiding any actions which renege on the universally accepted canons of justice (Best Business Practices for Corporate Social Responsibility 2010, para5). The theory implies that the formation of a company symbolizes a silent agreement between the firm and the society that the company will act in a way which serves the interest of the society within or without its area of operation. This being the case, the company has a right to exist given that it bestows some benefits to the society (Best Business Practices for Corporate Social Responsibility 2010, para9).
The company’s actions follow the social contract theory due to a number of reasons. First, it is clear that the company goes against normal business practice to invest in the development of economically unsustainable telecommunication networks largely driven by the need to support poverty eradication among poor communities. It uses its well developed ability to come up with specialized applications to develop programs aimed at uplifting the lives of the poor communities. This is in line with the social contract theory as the company understands that it has an obligation to ensure that it aids in the improvement of the welfare of the society (David, 2005, p35). The understanding that the company exists to make profits as well as aid the general society is evident (Ethical issues in business, 2009, para1).
Other courses of action
The company can complement the efforts in uplifting the society through offering the lowest prices for its telecommunication products to the poor communities. The fact that the company has to spend huge sums of funds in investments for the telecommunication sector in the local communities is not a justification for them to charge high prices for the products (ABS Management Tool, 2009, para4). This is because the local communities may be unable to access these services hence making the initiative a failure. Again the company establishes further partnerships with companies able to develop the correct content for the local societies (CSR Case studies, 2004, para6).
These action plans are supported by the tools of CSR management. Ethical behavior basically involves doing what is right. The correctness of an undertaking is determined by its effect on the society (ABS Management Tool, 2009, para10). If it works to uplift the society then it is ethical. Bu if it works to deteriorate the society’s welfare then it is unethical (Levi-Faur , 2005, p34). The actions of the company accurately fall within the confines of the acceptable code of ethics. The members of the society will definitely be better off (Management Systems 2010, para3).
Limitations of the project
The decision to assist the poor communities is plausible given the positive effects it will have on the lives of the people living within the poor societies. It is indeed a gesture of complete support to development and the uplifting of the welfare of the society (Management Systems 2010, para6). The program accurately meets the criteria to qualify as being a CSR activity. However, operating the program is not without challenges. First, most of the communities falling under the category described above are illiterate. The fact that they cannot easily read or write means that acceptance and usage of the sophisticated technologies to be implemented will present hurdles to the success of the program. The implementation has to be done after a thorough awareness program which adds to the costs (Cyber Psychology & Behavior. Social Responsibility Tools in Online Gambling, 2010, para4).
The communities living in the remote areas are least exposed to the information technology. There is a likelihood of rejection of the new technology as it upsets the already established status quo. The effect of this is that it may take a long time for the program to have the intended effect on the people (Cyber Psychology & Behavior. Social Responsibility Tools in Online Gambling, 2010, para4). Despite the good intentions of the firm, the partners involved in ensuring the success of the poverty eradication program. There are likelihoods that the partners involved may not have similar zeal to see the program rolled out and become successful despite the many hurdles facing it (Ethical issues in business, 2009, para4).
It is however true that the affected societies may be willing to come out of the poor state they live in. this would give them enough motivation to embrace the new technologies in the hope that their living conditions will improve (CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), 2010, para9). Despite their low capacity in terms of literacy issues the program may still be a success.
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