Case Summary

Essay by sosomiaw28College, UndergraduateA, May 2005

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I. Case Summary

This is a clear case of the moral dilemma of the role of corporate business in society. Is a corporation obligated more than just economically to society? It is certain that the existence of a corporation fulfills an economic obligation to society. The corporation fills a need to society for a particular good or service. In doing so, it generates jobs and supports the economy and thus fulfills a social responsibility. Do companies, though, have a further obligation to society to act as a "moral agent" in society?

In this case, Mr. Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chief Executive Officer, takes the stand, at least for GE, that it is a company's responsibility to be a moral agent, to be a "good" company, as he put it. In his plan to re-mold GE, Mr. Immelt tackles several social issues from human rights, including gay rights and health care to environmental issues.

It clearly pronounces GE as a company that understands the best interest of the company is to be a "good company". Jeffrey R. Immelt is a key moral agent and has a clear vision of the responsibility of a corporate business to act as a moral agent in society. He sends a message that it is not necessary to apologize for understanding that it makes economic and profitable sense to do so.

II. Case Audit

This is a moral issue because people feel as though an institution with such large financial resources and political power in regard to its influence on society's thought processes should step up and support the society that helps support it. Others might feel as though a company should concentrate on making profit and fulfilling a financial obligation to its shareholders; that this is a company's moral obligation.

The main moral...