The scoop on Ben & A ; Jerry’s Inc. : an scrutiny of corporate societal duty Dennis. Bryan S ; Neck. Christopher P ; Goldsby. Michael G. Journal of Managerial Psychology13. 5/6 ( 1998 ) : 387-393.
This paper attempts to travel beyond media representations as it explores the inquiry of whether Ben & A ; Jerry’sInc. is a socially responsible organisation. This geographic expedition includes a description of the construct of corporate societal duty. and an probe of some specific actions by Ben & A ; Jerry’s to determine whether or non these actions are so socially responsible in nature.
Bryan S. Dennis: Virginia Tech. Blacksburg. Virginia. USA
Christopher P. Neck: Virginia Tech. Blacksburg. Virginia. USA Michael G. Goldsby: University of Southern Indiana. Evansville. Indiana. USA In 1963. two work forces met in 7th class gym category in Long Island. New York. Fourteen old ages subsequently. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield moved to Vermont. completed a $ 5 correspondence class on ice pick doing from Penn State and began Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream Inc. The undermentioned twelvemonth. the two work forces opened the firstBen & A ; Jerry’s shop in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington. VT. Two old ages subsequently. the two were administering their ice pick in the dorsum of an old Volkswagen Squareback Wagon. The undermentioned twelvemonth. Time Magazine claims that their ice pick is the best in the universe. Gross saless have increased every twelvemonth since so. Besides. with the exclusion of 1994. the company has earned a net income every twelvemonth ( Ben & A ; Jerry’s Website. 1997a ) . However. the laminitiss of Ben & A ; Jerry’s appear to desire more out of their company than merely net incomes.
The company’s mission states one of the company’s ends as “initiating advanced ways to better the quality of life of the broad-based community – local. national and international level” ( Ben & A ; Jerry’s Website. 1997b ) . Their doctrine of societal duty has received much attending. When the subject of corporate societal duty ( CSR ) is discussed. Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream. Inc. is frequently cited as a premier illustration of a company that has succeeded in this sphere. Beyond the ballyhoo and emotion frequently involved in these treatments. there are several inquiries that beg to be asked. Is Ben & A ; Jerry’s Inc. deserving of all this attending? If we go beyond media representations and look more closely at the issues. is Ben & A ; Jerry’s a socially responsible organisation? The intent of this article is to analyze these inquiries by ; – ( 1 ) depicting the construct of corporate societal duty ; and – ( 2 ) researching some specific actions of Ben & A ; Jerry’s to determine whether or non these actions are so socially responsible in nature. Social duty
In 1960. Keith Davis described societal duty as businesses’ “decisions and actions taken for grounds at least partly beyond the firm’s direct economic or proficient interest” . In 1971. the Committee for Economic Development made the undermentioned statement in respects to corporate societal duty: ” Today it is clear that the footings of the contract between society and concern are. in fact. altering in significant and of import ways. Business is being asked to presume broader duties to society than of all time earlier and to function a wider scope of human values. Business endeavors. in consequence. are behind asked to lend more to the quality of American life than merely providing measures of goods and services. ” Since so. the subject of CSR is one that has been widely discussed. There are those. such as Milton Friedman ( 1962 ) . who are opposed to the underlying premiss of CSR and experience that exclusive duty of concern is profit maximization.
On the other difficult. there are those such as William C. Frederick ( 1960 ) who feel that the resources available to concerns should be “utilized for wide societal terminals and non merely for the narrowly limited involvements of private individuals and firms” . Besides. in 1991. R. Edward Freeman and Jeanne Liedtka presented seven grounds why the construct of societal duty is frequently abandoned. One of the grounds given was: ” Corporate societal duty promotes incompetency by taking directors to affect themselves in countries beyond their expertness – that is. mending society’s ailments. ” We address the issue of whether companies are capable of turn toing society’s ailments by measuring the managerial determinations and deductions of an organisation that has received a great trade of promotion for its alleged societal duty. We believe Ben and Jerry’s demonstrates the challenges a company faces in trying to show socially responsible actions. Additionally. Ben & A ; Jerry’s may besides function as support towards why CSR can be a worthwhile chase. Examples of societal duty
Without inquiry. Ben & A ; Jerry’s has had several CSR-related success narratives. ( 1 ) Ben & A ; Jerry’s donates 7. 5 per centum of pretax net incomes to charity. while the mean publically held corporation in the USA donates 1 per centum ( Miller. 1995 ) . Some of the organisations that receive this money include environmental groups. AIDS undertakings. a centre for immigrant rights. American Indians. and the homeless ( Siebert. 1995 ) . ( 2 ) Ben & A ; Jerry’s besides treats their employees really good in many respects. For illustration. the lowest paid employee receives a salary plus benefits of $ 22. 000 in a province with an mean per capita income of $ 17. 436 ( Laabs. 1996 ) . This compensation bundle ranks with America’s largest employers ( Laabs. 1996 ) . Another means that Ben & A ; Jerry’s uses to make a positive workplace is the Joy Luck Gang. a voluntary group whose exclusive mission is the “relentless chase of joy in the workplace” ( Laabs. 1996 ) . The group patrons activities designed to better morale. such as clash-dressing twenty-four hours and engaging DJs to take petitions while workers are on the production line ( Laabs. 1996 ) . ( 3 ) Furthermore. the company has designed merchandise lines to lend to specific social causes.
For illustration. in 1989. when the saving of the rain forests was a hot subject. Ben & A ; Jerry’s decided to make a new merchandise ( Rainforest Crunch Ice Cream ) that would incorporate nut merchandises from the Amazon rain forest. The purpose was to help in the saving of the rain forest. The label from the merchandise reads “money from these nuts helps to demo that rain forests are more profitable when…cultivated for traditional crop than when their trees are cut and burned for short-run gain” ( Entine. 1995 ) . ( 4 ) The company besides has been one of the most vocal oppositions of Bovine Growth Hormone ( rBGH ) . Ben & A ; Jerry’s claims that the endocrine is unhealthy for cattles. affects the nutritionary value of milk in a negative manner. causes milk to travel rancid before its clip. is non necessary due to an copiousness of milk. and threatens the endurance of household farms ( Ben and Jerry’s Website. 1997c ) .
In 1995. the company paid a premium of $ 345. 000 for milk and pick that was rBGH free ( Ben & A ; Jerry’s Website. 1997d ) . Once once more. the company exhibits a behaviour of CSR. ( 5 ) Finally. the company has six “Partnershops” . These are franchises owned by “non-profit organisations working to run into employment. preparation and other societal demands of the deprived people and for which. Ben & A ; Jerry’s waives the normal franchising fee” ( Ben & A ; Jerry’s Social. 1996 ) . Our treatment up to this point would look to back up the contention that Ben & A ; Jerry’s acts in a socially responsible mode. There are other actions. nevertheless. that this company has undertaken that need to be examined before this finding is made. Examples of societal irresponsibleness?
When placed under a microscopic lens of examination. corporations. like persons. can be found to be “less than perfect” . Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream. Inc. is no exclusion. ( 1 ) First. the consequences of the Rainforest Crunch plan were non rather in line with?? company outlooks. The beginning for the nuts in the Western Amazon ( the Zapuri co-op ) could non bring forth adequate nuts to run into the demand. In order to run into the demand. the company has purchased more than 95 per centum of the nuts for Rainforest Crunch from commercial providers ( Entine. 1995 ) . One of the companies that Ben & A ; Jerry’s purchased these nuts from was the Mutran household. one “of the most ill-famed. anti-labor agricultures in Latin America … convicted of killing labour organizers” ( Entine. 1995 ) . This is non precisely an organisation that a socially responsible company would prosecute with in bargaining. Besides. the nuts that did come from the rain forest were harvested by white gum elastic tapsters of Lusitanian descent.
The autochthonal indigens were forced to sell off more land rights as the larger commercial providers “elbowed out native providers in Brazil and Bolivia and flooded the market. Nut monetary values. already soft. plummeted. cutting the income of native folks who did reap the nuts” ( Entine. 1995 ) . As Rosin ( 1995 ) notes: ” As for the existent “forest peoples” . many were non excessively happy with the undertaking. Autochthonal rights leaders complained their military personnels were being seduced by the enticement of dollars. although the amounts were paltry. After developing an appetency for Western goods. some of the forest people sold whatever land they owned to purchase houses and autos. “Its concrete aid has been minimal” . a study of the Alliance of Forest Peoples concluded about the mission. “and the negative reverberations have been enormous” . ” Ben & A ; Jerry’s societal hearer. Paul Hawken. said “it is a legitimate inquiry whether representations?? made onBen & A ; Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch bundle give an accurate feeling to the customer” and “there have been…undesirable effects which some say were predictable and unavoidable” in respect to the Rainforest Crunch plan ( Entine. 1995 ) . Although the purposes were good. it is evident that the consequences were non rather as intended.
Arguably. this undertaking has had a negative impact upon society and is non an illustration of societal duty. ( 2 ) Second. Ben & A ; Jerry’s partnership with the LaSoul Bakery does non epitomize socially responsible behaviour. The LaSoul bakeshop. owned and operated in New Jersey by the Reverend James Carter. employed retrieving drug nuts and alkies ( Rosin. 1995 ) . The followers is a brief outline of what happened: ” A hebdomad after he saw Ben [ Cohen ] on ABC’s “20/20” . Carter packed up a bole full of pies and drove to the company central office. Ben loved both the pies and “Reverend Carter’s vision of constructing a sound business” . In three hebdomads. Carter had a missive of purpose to make concern with the company. which he showed to the bank to borrow money for equipment. Ben flew down to New Jersey to tape a Television show of himself assisting ex-addicts mix batches of the new Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt. After two old ages. nevertheless. gross revenues of the spirit were flagging. In May 1994. Ben & A ; Jerry’s drastically decreased its orders. go forthing Carter with deep-freezes full of pies. Frantic. Carter laid off all but two employees and called Ben.
The following twenty-four hours. Ben flew to New Jersey. “sat down. looked them directly in the eye” and. callbacks Carter. said “Don’t concern. we’ll stick with you” . But orders ne’er picked up. and this June. Carter received a missive from the company. by facsimile. complimenting him on his “good works” and canceled all staying orders. He was left half a million dollars in debt. “It’s reasonably cunning. this societal mission” . Carter says bitterly ??? . “but the bottom line is. Ben and Jerry’s buried my company” ( Rosin. 1995 ) . ” Bob Holland. CEO of Ben & A ; Jerry’s at the clip. had the undermentioned to state sing the issue in the one-year “CEO Letter to Shareholders” of 1995: ” LaSoul is out of concern because ( 1 ) the merchandise we sold utilizing their ingredient did non win in the market place and ( 2 ) a figure of attempts on their portion aimed at the critically of import undertaking of spread outing LaSoul’s client base were non successful ( Ben and Jerry’s Website. 1997d ) . ” Besides. Alan Parker ( of Ben & A ; Jerry’s ) stated. “sure we feel sad … In the terminal. LaSoul was merely non a feasible concern enterprise” ( Rosin. 1995 ) .
This response doesn’t rather fit the image of Ben & A ; Jerry’s as a socially responsible organisation. Those remarks sound more like those from a corporation whose chief concerns are maximising gross revenues and net incomes. non societal duty. Again. a contradiction to Ben & A ; Jerry’s image and repute. ( 3 ) Third. the monetary value of Ben & A ; Jerry’s ice pick is an issue. At the local food market shop. the writers found that merely Haagen-Daz’s costs more than Ben & A ; Jerry’s ( Dennis. 1996 ) . In a state where 39 million people live below the poorness degree ( 15 per centum of the state ) and 15 million of them are kids ( 22 per centum of all kids ) ( Gartner. 1995 ) . how socially responsible is Ben & A ; Jerry’s when they are selling a merchandise that many Americans can non afford? ( 4 ) Finally. the very nature of Ben & A ; Jerry’s merchandise itself is questionable due to the wellness effects of the merchandise.
The followers is an illustration of the fat content of Ben & A ; Jerry’s ice pick: ” After every tally of Rainforest Crunch. Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia. technicians at its Waterbury. Vermont central office washed down their machines with hot H2O. go forthing gallons of diluted ice pick. At most companies. the waste would hold presented no quandary at all – merely rinsing it down the drain. Ben & A ; Jerry’s. with its socially witting runing doctrine. had another thought. The ice pick H2O was collected and given off to local hog husbandmans. It seemed like a authoritative win-win state of affairs: Ben & A ; Jerry’s solves a minor environmental job while husbandmans got an unexpected windfall. At least. that’s what everyone thought … But benevolence shortly led to unexpected complications. Piglets that merrily slurped Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade sugar H2O ne’er made it to 600-pound maturity. all of a sudden run outing at 200 lbs. victims of curiously human-like arterial sclerosis. And the slaughtered hogs yielded a fattier porc. harmonizing to local hog husbandman Earl Mayo.
Neither Ben & A ; Jerry’s nor the husbandman had explored the deductions of feeding hogs premium ice pick ( Entine. 1995 ) . ” Obviously. if Ben & A ; Jerry’s ice pick can do this type of harm to hogs. ingestion of this merchandise can hold a negative consequence upon one’s wellness. In research undertaken by the writers. it was determined that Ben & A ; Jerry’s ice pick is one of the most fattening ice picks available ( Dennis. 1996 ) . In add-on. the writers obtained the degrees of fat from the following nutrients ( those which are publically know as high-fat ) for comparing toBen & A ; Jerry’s: 1 pint of Ben & A ; Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup 104g
1 lb of porc bacon 60g
16 oz. rancid pick 75g
1 stick of butter 88g
1 Large Red Baron Specialty Deluxe Pizza 90g
16 oz. bag of Oreo’s cookies 98g
7 regular size Snickers bars 98g
2 household size Stouffer’s Lasagna 100g
Surveies have shown that excessively much fat increases the hazard of fleshiness and malignant neoplastic disease and excessively much saturated fat ( found to a great extent in ice pick ) raises blood cholesterin degrees and the hazard of heart-disease ( Barnett. 1992 ) . As evidenced by the United States Department of Agriculture ( 1995 ) . the diet of Americans is non in demand of high fat nutrients: ” Stroke affects more than 500. 000 people each twelvemonth in the United States and. in 1993. killed more than 149. 000.
The American Heart Association estimates that some three million people in the United States suffer from stroke-related disablements. at an one-year cost of about $ 20 billion. Hazard factors include a diet high in concentrated fat and cholesterin every bit good as being overweight or holding diabetes or high blood pressure. Health professionals estimate that at least 20 per centum of these deceases could be avoided with alterations in one’s diet. ” While the writers do non claim that Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream is entirely responsible for the deceases of 1000000s due to bosom disease. etc. . the grounds does propose that this merchandise may hold had a negative impact upon the general wellness of many persons. Decision
Based upon all the information presented. the reader should be in a better place to do an independent judgement of Ben & A ; Jerry’s in respect to corporate societal duty. Each person will hold to weigh the positive impacts of Ben & A ; Jerry’s actions against the negative effects of such actions. In make up one’s minding whether the company is representative of corporate societal duty. we argue that there is no clear reply that everyone would hold on. We do experience. nevertheless. that it is safe to propose that Ben and Jerry’sdemonstrates the battle of trying socially responsible actions in a complex. planetary market.
As the corporate societal duty argument continues. the lone thing that can be moderately stated with any certainty is that there are no distinct replies to the undermentioned inquiries: Can any concern be classified as wholly socially responsible? If Ben & A ; Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream. with its firm repute of societal duty. doesn’t rather step up. who can? Why do the negative actions of Ben & A ; Jerry’s rarely do it into the public sphere? Is the courtship of the media the exclusive demand for set uping a repute as a socially responsible company? If so. how ethical is that?
Indeed. farther research is needed to get down replying these inquiries. Hopefully. the thoughts presented in the manuscript will function as a accelerator for such probe.
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