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Corporate social responsibility

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Introduction

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY "Each year, just three diseases kill 5.4 million people worldwide. Malaria kills at least one million, mainly in developing countries, with 90% of the deaths in Africa. Tuberculosis causes 1.9 million deaths a year, almost all of them in developing countries, where resistance to the five major anti-tubercular drugs is spreading. Some 400,000 of the tuberculosis victims are also HIV positive. The yearly death toll for HIV/Aids is almost 2.5 million, with about 1.8 million concentrated in the Sub-Saharan Africa" The Times Higher 20/07/01 Assess the responsibilities of the pharmaceutical companies for providing low cost drugs to the poor people in the developing countries. There is no generally accepted definition for corporate social responsibility (CSR), although various theorists have attempted to surmise one. One useful definition is provided by Archie Carroll (1979): 'The social responsibility of business encompasses the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary expectations that society has of organisations at a given point in time' Another definition is offered by Kok et al: 'The obligation of the firm to use its resources in ways to benefit society, through committed participation as a member of society, taking into account the society at large and improving the welfare of society at large independent of direct gains of the company.' An alternative definition by Frederick et al (1988): 'business and society are interdependent and co-exist, with business using society's resources and, in turn, fulfilling economic needs and changing social goals Thus, business and society are bound by ...read more.

Middle

Transparency in corporate directions for solving such a dilemma between individual rights and the pharmaceutical economic interest are generally unavailable. Additionally French says: Business firms in this century occupy social positions roughly equivalent to the prominent posts held in other eras by the church, the nobility, the army, even the feudal lords. They dominate the lives of all but a few members of the community. They control the financial and economic aspects of society and are possessed of monetary power far greater than the world's governments. . . . Corporations today enjoy the prestige associated with creating and maintaining the scale or worth against which the majority of adults in Western societies judge their own value. . . . Corporations are far from being social fictions. (French, 1996) The GlaxoSmithKline mission is 'to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer'. If this is the goal of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies then it should be their "social obligation" to provide life-saving drugs to needy populations. In view of that these transnational pharmaceutical companies need to be fighting worldwide epidemics for a global public good. The fact that the pharmaceutical business is about human health makes it even more important that they operate to the highest standards and adhere to their 'mission statements'. The actions of pharmaceutical companies have an impact upon a large number of people as they have extensive resources enabling them to formulate and articulate certain policies and strategies, for carrying them out, as well as to monitor their outcome. ...read more.

Conclusion

To view their business activities in developing countries primarily as sources of profits provides a less than morally defensible position. Indeed, some developing countries might perceive transnational pharmaceutical companies as corporations that view the people of developing countries as purely the means by which these companies can improve their profits, while widening the economic gap between developed and developing countries. My argument is that at what point does the human benefit to desperate, impoverished countries outweigh strict adherence to patents and profits? It seems reasonable for developing societies to expect pharmaceutical companies not to cause harm and to make efforts to prevent harm, given that it is within their control to do so. Conclusion Clearly the five propositions for social responsibility as set out by Davis (1975) presents a viable means of assessing the actions of transnational pharmaceutical companies operating in developing countries. While enriching themselves transnational pharmaceutical companies also have an obligation to enhance, if not to enrich, the countries in which they operate. The stakeholder analysis is a step towards illuminating issues, stakes and parties involved to solve this ethical dilemma. By enhancing the economic and social prosperity of the countries in which they do business, major pharmaceutical companies are well positioned to elevate their market position i.e. enhance there reputation. As shareholders are increasingly concerned with long term strategic issues, it should also be the central concern of the board. Failure to adopt this perspective will, in the long-run cause transnational pharmaceutical companies to forfeit their right to enter and operate in developing countries. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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