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The Business/Society Relationship
C H A P T E R
O B J E C T I V E S
After studying this chapter, you should be able to: Deﬁne business and society and their interrelationship. Explain pluralism and identify its strengths and weaknesses. Explain how our pluralistic society has become a special-interest society. Discuss the major criticisms of business and characterize business’s general response. Identify the major themes of this book: the managerial approach, ethics, and stakeholder management.
Over the past decade, many news stories have brought to the attention of the public numerous social and ethical issues that have framed the business/society relationship. Because the news media have a ﬂair for the dramatic, it is not surprising that the reporting of these issues has been characterized by criticisms of various actions, decisions, and behaviors on the part of business management. Visible examples of these criticisms have included accusations against H.B. Fuller Co. that it has been selling glue in Honduras that is being indiscriminately used for “snifﬁng” by Honduran street children, an exposé of Beech-Nut Nutrition Company’s practice of selling adulterated apple juice and passing it off to the public as “100% fruit juices,” lawsuits against Dow Corning for its sale of defective silicone breast implants, allegations that Sears Roebuck & Co. engaged in sales abuses at its auto centers by pressuring customers to purchase unneeded or unwanted services, and accusations and lawsuits against the tobacco industry for manufacturing and marketing what an increasing number of people consider to be an inherently dangerous product. The litany of such issues could go on and on, but these examples will serve to illustrate the continuing tensions between business and society, which can be traced to speciﬁc incidents or events. In addition to these speciﬁc incidents, many general issues that carry social or ethical implications have arisen...