Adam Smith vs. CSR

adamsmith.jpgFrom Alan Murry on the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion section (requires login):

What harm is there in companies taking more responsibility for social and environmental problems? Plenty, if you adhere to the theories of Adam Smith, argued more than 200 years ago that the general welfare was better served by people pursuing their enlightened self-interest than by misguided attempts to serve society. The 20th century proved his point: Profit-seeking corporations, constrained and buttressed by moderate government regulation and spending, did far more to increase the welfare of the world than a proliferation of “socially responsible” governments. And the 21st century is proving it yet again: China’s embrace of Adam Smith has yielded the greatest alleviation of poverty in history.

So, is Murray missing the point? Has truly free enterprise ever existed? Certainly not in China, I’d say. And even Adam Smith suggests that “moderate” regulation is a good thing, so why not promote proactive self-regulation?
(more discussion on Next Billion)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.