THE HEROIC ENTERPRISE by John M. Hood

THE HEROIC ENTERPRISE

Business and the Common Good

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An upbeat and forceful audit that persuasively documents the many ways in which corporate America meets its actual and presumptive social responsibilities. Hood (a Heritage Foundation fellow) offers an abundance of evidence in support of his premise that a prospering private sector confers great benefits on society. Arguing that the main responsibility of US business is to increase its earnings, he stresses that for-profit enterprises march to the beat of drums decidedly different from those of government agencies and charitable institutions. In this bottom-line context, the author does vigorous battle with activists who would instruct commercial concerns on their social responsibilities. Noting that philanthropy is crucially dependent upon a market system that can create wealth sufficient to be shared, Hood scoffs at the notion that companies should allocate capital to causes idiosyncratically embraced by either corporate executives or their critics. Nor does he accept the conventional wisdom that downsizing and layoffs have worsened the lot of American workers. Thanks to industry's greater competitiveness, the author points out, the domestic economy of the 1990s provides more employment and entrepreneurial opportunity than ever before. Along similar lines, he shows how enlightened (if toughminded) self-interest is inducing US business to play a more active role in education, the revitalization of inner cities, product as well as workplace safety, protection of the environment, health care, and the elimination of bias based on race or gender. Without gainsaying either the existence or persistence of socioeconomic inequities, Hood concludes that, as a practical matter, firms accountable to income-minded owners (in most cases, stockholders) do appreciably more to advance the common good than any advocates of programs reliant on other people's money. An uncommonly sensible and evenhanded reckoning.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-82762-X
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996




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