This essay aims to explore the concept of social responsibility of business by analyzing a case relevant to business ethics. The importance of social responsibility of business can be savored from the words of Donald L. E. (2004) “If businesses fail to honor their responsibilities to society and don’t believe in corporate stewardship, who in our society will?” Thus, in fulfilling social responsibilities, corporations are like legal persons with the same rights and duties. The case comes from an annual meeting of the North American Case Research Association. Degussa AG is a multinational, specialty chemical company headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany. It is regarded as a leading figure in making anti-graffiti coatings. And its product Protectosil® is said to be the best anti-graffiti spray all around the world. In 2002, Degussa’s CEO, Utz-Hellmuth Feltch, must present to his Board of Trustees a possibly controversial bid, which is to provide an anti-graffiti coating for a new Holocaust memorial. This memorial is being built in Berlin. However, a former subsidiary of Degussa’s, named Degesch, produced and provided the nerve gas that killed Jews and other people in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. To Feltch and the Degussa Board, there is an ethical dilemma.
From the narrow view of social responsibility, as stated by Milton F. “In a free economy, there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.”, there is no need for Feltch and the Degussa Board to worry about the controversy from Jewish leaders and activists. All Degussa AG should consider is whether the bid can bring it profits or not if it obeys the rules of the economic activities. However, in this course the essence of the theory of the social responsibility of business is that corporations should view their activities in a broader perspective rather than in terms of economic effects. (Tuomo, T. 1989) Degussa AG has an understanding of this concept of social responsibility of business, that is why its CEO and board find it hard to make the decision. According to the broad view of social responsibility of Degussa AG, it has duties towards society, like respecting basic human values: honesty, trust and fairness, having responsible business conduct, and enterprise. (Igor, Y., Abramov and Kenneth W. J., 2004)