General Question

niki's avatar

Do you think business & corporations nowadays do more harm/bad things than good?

Asked by niki (714points) April 14th, 2011

Do you agree?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that business is bad, but I truly feel that business nowadays is way too much only about milking big profits and that’s all, without any strong regards to morality, humanity and cooperation. Not to mention the often dirty ways of “buddy2” with politicians.

Whereas sometimes (or often?) what should be the possible solutions for Long-time world’s problems like energy crisis, and true, real development and breakthrough in scientific fields, and creative human endeavors are all hindered and even seemingly trampled down all because simply it doesn’t sell nor make huge profits.

I don’t know, to me it seems that many (but not all) businesses nowadays have seriously destroyed our planet & also humanity all because in the name of profits and business alone, instead of thinking more thoroughly and in all-encompassing manner.

What do you think?
and what should be the solutions then?

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14 Answers

gmander's avatar

Businesses and corporations are simply vehicles for people to use for the purposes of trade. They, of themselves, have no morality or actionable motivation. It’s the people in the businesses and corporations that cause all the good or bad effects following on from the particular business that they carry out.

I’m beginning to think that the concept of limited liability, which is what protects a lot of people running bad businesses, is past it’s usefulness as a tool for progress. What we should replace it with I still haven’t figured out!

bkcunningham's avatar

Ditto what @Rarebear said.

funkdaddy's avatar

A business is a group of people who come together to make a living.

The #1 purpose of a business is to make money, everything else is secondary and reflects the values of the individuals involved.

It’s difficult to reflect the values of all of the individuals involved in a large business, so most large companies revert the simplest (and primary) goal, which is to make money.

There are other groups and organizations who’s primary goal is to do good, but don’t confuse those with businesses.

Bellatrix's avatar

No, I don’t think businesses in general do more harm than good.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s the trend of short sightedness. Boost the bottom line quickly and without regard to ethics. They have the screw pensions mentality.

Bellatrix's avatar

Apart from the obvious benefits in terms of businesses providing many of us with work (or profits that fund our retirement), many, many business organisations are involved in CSR initiatives that are good for society. Even small businesses may be funding local children’s football teams and other community events/organisations or providing mentoring or work experience opportunities. Large corporations, even the ones we love to hate, are also often involved in initiatives that make our lives better. Ronald McDonald House (do you have those in the US? I would expect you do) for instance. Local TV networks here support life saving organisations and sponsor things like helicopters. Or consider the collaborations between business and universities. The opportunities businesses offer for workplace learning in the university I work for are increasing and provide wonderful experience for our students out in the real world. Those business people give their time, space and resources freely. Sure they may reap as they sow in time, but they give nonetheless.

Also, here is a website listing some companies that are involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects.

Certainly there are many examples of greedy, immoral businesses, but there are equally many companies that do some great things for the community.

CuriousLoner's avatar


Here is a link giving you an idea as to why I think yes.

mattbrowne's avatar

Far more good than bad.

I’d say more than 90% of all businesses ranging from small-sized teams to multinational giants are conducting business in an ethical way. Even for some very large companies which do not, more than 90% of their employees do.

Why are there so many ‘yes’ answers to this question?

For the same reason people believe that there are more natural disasters or more crimes or more poverty than in the past?

And the main reason is the selection made by our media. Here’s a quote from

”... we live in a world with more democracy, freedom, and human rights than ever before, more productiveness, wealth, and education, better health and longevity, less poverty, hunger, and illiteracy, more knowledge, conveniences, and recreation, less bigotry, violence, and unfairness, more cooperation, compassion, options, and choices (...).

We get marinated in all that negativity. Bad news fills the media because that’s what grabs attention. An air crash makes headlines, but the thousands of daily safe landings don’t make the news at all. Thus we become scaredy-cats. And it’s contagious; we often are herd animals. An experiment showed that when people stand in the street looking upward—at nothing—many passing by will also look up. It’s easy to be sucked into the quicksand of pessimism all around us.”

“If you sat and read a book by the light of an 18-watt compact fluorescent light bulb and you read by that light for an hour, you would consume 18 watt hours of electricity. If you’re on the minimum average wage (£479 a week) and pay the average tariff for your electricity (9p per kWh), that hour will have cost you about a quarter of a second of labor – a little more if you include the cost of the bulb. To get the same amount of light with a conventional filament lamp in 1950 and the then average wage, you’d have needed to work for eight seconds. Using a kerosene lamp in the 1880s, you’d have needed to work for 15 minutes; a tallow candle in the 1800s, more than six hours. From a quarter of a day to a quarter of a second is an 86,400-fold improvement.”

Why all this? Science provides the basis.

But it’s our efficient corporations which give us a better life. A very moral thing to do, in my view.

Reckless corporations like Tepco or Enron are the exception.

Seelix's avatar

Corporations have been killing small business for decades. This is not something new.

mattbrowne's avatar

Small businesses have also been killing large corporations for decades. Just think of how Google, Amazon and Ebay got started.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Right. Starbucks started as a single store in Seattle.

Zaku's avatar


Most corporations are currently organized around growing and making profits above all else. The result is large organizations consuming larger and larger amounts of resources and people’s lives, without necessarily doing anything good.

The fallacies of “economic science” and corporate culture need to change so that corporations are dedicated to doing something worthwhile, not to maximizing stock values.

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