Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 1, 1990

Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting

James W. Evans, Marc Lampe
Pages 451-463

Profiling Socially Courageous Executive Decisions

In the United States, most corporate executives make self-interested decisions meaning they focus on shareholder welfare as well as their own. These decisions are primarily concerned with bottom line profitably and tend to be short-term in focus. Occasionally, executives make decisions in behalf of a wider constituency, i.e., the public interest. the latter may or may not be in the company's, or the decisions maker's, best short-term interest, but they are often in its long-term interest. Considerable pressure within and without companies militate against long-term public-interest decisions ever being made. These decisions usually defy trends within the industry, making the decision maker a lone individual without many friends or allies. In addition, they are fraught with considerable personal risk. As such, long-term public interest decisions are better known as socially courageous decisions. Several questions related to the issue of socially courageous decisions are considered. Why are socially courageous decisions courageous? Are such decisions desirable?, for the company?, the shareholders?, society?, a common future? If these decisions are desirable, why are some people against them? Who are they? What motivates them? What motivates the socially courageous decision maker? Beyond our consideration of these questions, there is a need for further research.