Seminar 3 Notes

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Reconciling values and priorities
Consider the slogan ‘buy Australian’. Is it patriotic for an Australian to buy a car made in Australia (perhaps a Holden) rather than one made by a foreign manufacturer (maybe a Kia)? In a world of global supply chains, it is very difficult to argue that there is any such thing as a car ‘made in Australia’ or any other manufactured good for that matter. But just suppose you could identify goods that create local jobs. Is that good reason to buy them? Why should we be more interested in creating jobs for locals than for workers in say Japan, Korea or Germany?

In a time when the global economy is struggling to climb out of recession perhaps it is understandable your first priority is to local workers, but from a standpoint of need alone, it is hard to argue that helping local workers is better than helping unemployed workers in China – yet it is also hard to argue that we do not have a special obligation to fellow citizens who fall on hard times. This question raises the issue of reconciling sometime competing values and priorities. Just how wide (or narrow) should the circle of concern be for a business?

One way of looking at this problem is to use the idea of ‘stakeholders’ (discussed in detail in chapter 3 of your unit text). The table below lists some types of stakeholder


(Brom, de Bakker, Deblonde, and de Graaff, 2006, CMR Manual)

The idea of stakeholders has become closely associated with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The question is though, on what ethical basis does this rest on? It is clear that CSR is founded on businesses voluntarily incurring obligations to stakeholders which places it in the realm on ‘moral individualism’. According to Sandel (2009, p.213) this implies that business should only be subject to obligations that they voluntary incur. What they owe to others, they owe…...

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