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The Challenge for Business and Society by Stanley S. Litow

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Chapter 3The Future

The history of corporate responsibility and a review of where it currently stands provide us with important background and context for its future direction. The facts I’ve presented in the book ought to dispel a good deal of the simplistic and undocumented view that all corporate behavior is and always has been bad. It has not been, is not, and will not be going forward. As in all sectors of society—business and industry, government, and civil society—there are examples of good and bad behavior. A review of history and the present also tells us that the most exemplary behavior by the private sector has been proactive rather than reactive to either law or regulation. This is not to say that regulation is ineffective in setting standards and addressing problematic behavior, but in terms of preventing such behavior, and more important in stimulating higher levels of performance and real leadership, it is not the only solution, and perhaps not even the solution of choice. This is instructive and hopefully clarifies some assumptions about corporate behavior. But most important, it can provide us an opportunity based on an understanding of fact, to provide a road map for a future that is not made up of good and bad actors. We need to do better, much better. The question is, where do we want to be? And how can we get there?

For more than 100 years we have seen some companies exhibit extremely bad behavior at the same time that others have done just the opposite. ...

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