In the business community, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is considered to be a significant theme that underpins various moral, financial, and ethical judgments of corporate activities (Kotler and Lee 2005, 3). Instances of corporate giving and social responsibility can be observed in almost every segment of business. Several different concepts have been put forth attempting to describe the nature and understanding of social responsibility.
For example, CSR means that companies are responsible for their impact on society but other similar concepts include corporate social performance (CSP) which has been used to describe the financial returns an organization may see from CSR activities (Ono 2000, 45) and corporate social orientation (CSO) that refers to how people view CSR and CSP cumulatively.
A definition that gets to the core of the general construct is “a company’s commitment to minimizing or eliminating any harmful effects and maximizing its long-run beneficial impact on society” (Fitzpatrick 2000, 294).
This concept is also regarded as a responsibility of every organization to consider how the effects may impact people who are either directly or indirectly may undergo some changes. As such, researchers are moving beyond just defining and identifying CSR activities, to examine the role of CSR in a broader organizational context (Hawkins 2006, 167).
Mitsubishi’s origin dates back to 1870 and regarded as the leader in such spheres like marketing, engineering, and manufacturing (Mitsubishi Electric 2008). Originally started as a shipping company, it has evolved to result into a number of independent companies operating across the whole world (Carroll 1999, 270).
Its history is generally believed to parallel the story of modern Japan. Its rapid expansion has seen it transform into a number of strong multinational companies. Its breakdown into small multinational companies occurred after the war which left the Allied forces demanding that big industrial groups disband (Mitsubishi Motors Corporation n.d.).
Talking about corporate social responsibility of this particular company, it is very important to identify the standards in regard to which the representatives of the company have to work. It seems to be crucial to choose appropriate working conditions, and Mitsubishi managers succeed in developing clear and effective strategies.
There are three main principles according to which Mitsubishi Corporation (MIC) operates its business. They are corporate responsibility to the community, integrity and fairness preservation and understanding of international business operations (Mitsubishi International Corporation n.d.).
These principles in addition to the corporate conducts code define the level of corporate responsible activities which the society engages in. as a result of the recall problems in 2004, Mitsubishi Corporation put in place a number of strategies based on its investigations and the lessons learned from this experience (Mitsubishi Corporation 2010).
The adopted policy then was a safety first compliance agreement. A business ethics committee within the company oversees the implementation of the initiative. The company strongly believes in the conviction that the company cannot succeed unless it observes the written and the unwritten business ethics (Mitsubishi Corporation 2010).
While Mitsubishi has seemingly been considered as one of the most prosperous multinationals globally, it has not been spared off some beating along its operations. There are two issues which are taken into consideration: the question concerning the competitiveness of its products in relation to its competitors like Toyota and Honda, and the question of its treatment to customers.
Though the achievements of this company are amazing indeed and may become a good sample of how a huge corporation should begin its development, the above-mentioned challenges make people think about the correctness of the methods chosen for work.
One of the most important aspects of work in any corporation is the necessity to develop appropriate relations with customers. The way of how a company is able to organize communication and cooperation defines the level of its success. Still, the company face a serious challenge that was based on customer’s blames in regard to the quality of Mitsubishi work. In several occasions, the company has shifted blames for its product failures to its customers.
The possibility to manipulate the clients who make complaints because of the sudden reverse acceleration may be taken into consideration. During several month, there were a number of reports which underline the problems connected to reverse acceleration. The possibility that some defects may influence the reputation of the company frightened the representatives of Mitsubishi Corporation, and, as in many other cases, the company neglects this evidence.
Unfortunately, the reports about poor quality of services have been introduced, and the reputation of the company was suffering. Instead of solving the problems and explaining the reasons of such misunderstandings, the company believed in its powers and fame, and it may become as one of the most serious shortages of social corporate responsibility.
Critics admitted that its possibilities to deny the evident existence of certain problems may become a serious challenge for several corporations. There are many shortages within the operations offered by the company under consideration, this is why it is very important to focus at solving the problems but not neglect the evidence and take care of certain aspects of work only.
In a surprising case, a raid by the Japanese Police yielded thousands of client complaints which had incidentally been hidden in company’s locker room. In a similar situation, Mitsubishi electric notably admitted to have stashed away client complaints with regard to defective televisions sets. This is in addition to various cases where the company has been accused of applying unethical means in order to bully its smaller competitors.
Additionally, the company has often been accused of engaging in bribery activities in Japan. This factor may become a serious problem for the company that wants to compete with other firms of the same field. The issue of competitiveness undergoes certain changes, and Mitsubishi Corporation has to introduce some new effective methods to overcome the competitors in fair competitions.
As it has been already mentioned, three principles of social corporate responsibility are taken as a basis for Mitsubishi work. There are a number of issues which have to be admitted in the work of such huge corporation. The corporate responsible actions that the company engages include both environmental issues and humanitarian issues.
The company has recognized that it existence is dependent on the concern it attaches to its environmental performance. It therefore has put in place initiatives aimed at preservation of the global environment and pursue business practices which facilitate sustainable development/production.
This is why one of the key elements of company’s social responsibility is global warming reduction and pollution of air. Much focus is on CO2 emission reduction. In accordance with the Kyoto protocol requiring 6% emission cut, the corporation made milestone an emission reduction of 32% in 2004. In prevention of pollution of air, the company’s priority is on reduction of emission for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).This is aligned to the current Japanese laws.
The company is implementing its own measurement standards aimed at even reducing gas emission further. The corporations manufacturing plants are in compliance with the Japanese and global regulation on emissions. The corporation is currently channeling vast resources building its global image.
In its endeavor to meet its environmental obligations, the corporation set the following behavioral standards upon which it should operate (Weigelt & Camerer 1988, 450):
Global warming prevention through reduced green-house gas emission
Pollution reduction through emission restriction on resource conservation of harmful substances.
Waste reduction maximal resource utilization.
Improved environmental management practices.
In June 2009, the company announced its Environmental Vision 2020, through which it intends to raise electric vehicle production by 20% (Mitsubishi Corporation 2010). While overcoming previous challenges with regard to electric vehicles, this measure is expected to reduce global carbon emission considerably.
They hold the key to realization of a low carbon society. Other than environmental benefits of the electric car, it is expected to impact positively on the lifestyle of individuals and the society in general. The vehicles will basically be charged at home eliminating the need to look for fuel at filling points.
The corporation has heavily invested in ensuring that human rights are upheld by its stakeholders. Its code of conduct re-affirms its commitment to upholding of human rights and not engages in practices which foster racism, ethnicity, and religious segregation among others.
The company exhibits intolerance to sexual harassment as well as foster activities which facilitate human rights issue awareness and respect for diverse cultures, customs and languages (Wilson, 1997, 58).The company has committed to uphold all international agreements which consider human rights like the universal declaration of human rights and the ILO core labor standards.
Global corporations have enormous power – their actions affect how and where we work, the way we structure our social lives, the standards of health and security we receive, the quality of the environment, the laws we live by, and the services we desire and purchase (Abratt, Clayton & Pitt 1987, 307).
Mitsubishi as a company has taken a leading role in ensuring corporate responsibility. Their decisions directly or indirectly shape the social fabric of society – socially, politically, and personally. However, such powers require lots of responsibilities.
The relationship between social power and social responsibility deserves much attention as the corporations with greater social power have more social responsibilities, and those corporations that do not meet their social responsibilities risk losing the power they have earned – a principle referred to as the “Iron Law of Responsibility (Backman 1975, 76).”
Throughout the course of business development and the evolution of the modern corporation, a recent push of scholarly attention has been devoted to the understanding of responsible business practice and the idea that businesses exist for more than just profit maximization.
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