The Trend Toward Social Responsibility

The Trend Toward Social Responsibility

The Trend toward Social Responsibility

The viewpoint and functions of the managers of large corporations exemplify the age of big business. Many top managers have been trained professionally in graduate schools of business administration.

There are other new types of executives who have come into administrative positions with backgrounds in the sciences or engineering. Whatever their training and background, modern managers have a professional attitude toward their work. They recognize that only those executives who get results are considered successful. A manager must guide his company so it can survive, make profits, and grow in an ever-changing America; otherwise he is a failure. A manager whose company continually has antagonistic relations with customers, labour, or government is not doing a good job.

The modern manager is expected to produce results in accordance with a practical as well as a professional code developed in the business world. An important aspect of this code is the manager's strong sense of responsibility to the public. At one time management was well regarded if it satisfied the owners and customers. Later company employees and their unions also had to be considered. Now some big-business corporations, those in steel, for example, must justify price increases before congressional committees-unthinkable a generation ago. Because the modern big-business company is responsible to many different groups and interests, the manager is more like a public official than an entrepreneur. The modern manager could not function effectively if he had the "public be damned" attitude of some of the nineteenth-century captains of industry. A more appropriate attitude is "the public be cultivated."13

One reason for the basic change in management attitudes and motivations is the increasing depersonalization resulting from corporate growth. Highly professional skills are required to run huge industrial corporations. Accounting, labour relations, product research, and a host of other specialized modern business functions are carried on by departments in the corporation. The position of a department head is an office defined in terms of specific skills and functions with no reference to the individual filling the office. Today we have the kind of bureaucratization of private enterprise that Max Weber foresaw when he predicted it would be the destiny of industrial man to live in an "iron cage of bureaucracy."

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