Free Market vs. Social Responsibility: Decision Time at the CED

by William Frederick



The posture of business toward society can be a crucial determinant of how well a society resolves its major problems. Do people know today the extent to which business is willing and able to commit itself to broad societal tasks? One benchmark of business commitment is found in business philosophy, those occasional expressions of preference for one form of social action over another. The U.S. Committee for Economic Development (CED) is, in a sense, in the business of issuing such statements. Founded in 1942, the Committee for Economic Development is composed mainly of two hundred top-level corporation executives, with a sprinkling of university presidents and an occasional government official with close connections to business. CED's trustees share with many others in and out of business an understandable ambivalence about how best to move forward against the challenge of mind-boggling domestic and global problems. A business vision that acknowledges social problems and assigns high priority to their solution is worthy of this premier group of business executives. This broader view can lead both business and society toward greater harmony, improved economic performance, and social justice.

California Management Review

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