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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

on May 30, 2008
Perhaps what I liked the most about this book was that it was less focused on the ethical questions, and more focused on what "Market for Virtue" exists in a Capitalistic system. That is, the ethical questions and answers are much more obvious on the subject of corporate social responsibility than the practical questions and answers within the context of Capitalism.

For this reason, I found this book to be one you could take in multiple ways. For example, you can look at it as a critique of how Capitalism can change for the better. You can also look at it as a critique of modern society (which is viewed as merely stating they'd pay a premium for social responsibility, when most individuals don't do so in practice).

While I found this book to go at the issue from a perspective that would be suitable for Sociological discourse, I think it's just as important (if not moreso) for businesspeople to understand the views in this book and to ask themselves some serious questions about what Business SHOULD be.
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on September 11, 2013
The book has a great description of CSR efforts, with an array of interesting examples. It describes abilities and limitations of CSR very well, but the overall message wasn't particularly revelatory.
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on April 1, 2015
Do not remember reading nor buying this book!
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on September 4, 2009
Vogel's book offers realistic observations on corporate behavior and constraints that limit "good citizen" policy on the part of companies. He clearly has made a conscientious effort to be accurate and fair. What's missing is the historical and international perspectives of authors like Andrew Bacevic (in dealing with American foreign policy) and Robert Reich (who praises Vogel's book) in economic policy. I think that we can't really understand the problems and develop long-term solutions without those "big picture" insights.

For example, let's consider the post World War II history of business enterprise. Business and industry were widely respected fields in the United States through the 1950s. Indeed before the expansion of universities and governmental functions the majority of college students assumed that their futures would be somewhere in the business world, though they might major in English literature, French history, biology or engineering in college.

But in the 1960s a stigma developed on business, powerfully reflected in the movie, "The Graduate", starring Dustin Hoffman. Remember the heavy sarcasm conveyed by the businessman who, with intense terseness, offered his advice to Hoffman: "Let me just say one word to you - 'plastics'"?
In other words, business was portrayed as concerned with soulless materialism. Fashionable movements in the burgeoning universities pilloried clipped lawns and "mindless conformity" in bourgeois suburban communities. As I point out in my recent book, "The Conflict over Environmental Regulation in the United States", 321 p. Springer, March 23, 2009, the Santa Barbara offshore oil spill of 1969 led to further erosion of the image of manufacturing and industry, which were now regarded as the main threats to the environment. Instead of the respect formerly given to industrial enterprise, the new attitude toward industry conveyed in rigorous new federal environmental laws of the 1970s is symbolized by words like "compliance", "violations", and "violator".

A significant proportion of older business leaders had scientific and engineering backgrounds, or broad liberal arts interests. They included people like Edwin Land (Polaroid camera), Arnold Beckman (Beckman Instruments - laboratory equipment for physicochemical measurement) and Robert O. Anderson (chairman of Atlantic Richfield, chairman of Atlantic Richfield Oil Co., who was noted for discerning philanthropy like rescuing Harpers Magazine, founding the Aspen and Worldwatch institutes, the International Institute for Environment and Development in London and the John Muir Institute of the Environment in Davis, California.

Faced with an increasingly hostile and uncertain legal and political climate, the older product-oriented entrepreneurs were replaced by new kinds of business leaders. These tended to have legal and financial skills and the bottom line as the prime motivator. They had less loyalty to industries or individual companies. Robert Bradley has pointed out social environments heavily influenced by governmental regulations, mandates, and subsidies tend to give rise to firms specializing in "political capitalism" rather than "market capitalism". This type of firm seeks profit opportunities through knowledge of regulatory systems and influential contacts in high places. It doesn't produce technological innovation but buys technology when it needs it. An end-member example of this new kind of corporation was ENRON.

In short, businesses aren't independent entities in society. They respond to incentives and constraints in society. If we value and reward effective and responsible economic activity we'll tend to get it. If we stigmatize economic activity and harass it with pervasive regulations we'll attract thicker-skinned individuals with skills in surviving in such environments. It's not rocket science - but it has been incredibly overlooked.

Another omission in Vogel's book and almost all American books on business is interest in foreign business operations and experience. Has anybody wondered why U.S. auto companies got in such deep trouble, while all four major German automakers had record sales in the U.S. in 2006 - in spite of high wage and benefit costs and cumbersome labor rules? And why is little Finland the world's leading builder of sleek cruise ships as well as the leading cell phone manufacturer? When I see generic ideological labels like "capitalism", and "socialism" used, I tend to find thinking dominated by old assumptions and stereotypes.
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on October 6, 2005
Vogel's THE MARKET FOR VIRTUE is a balanced and objective review of the many activites that fall under the rubric of "corporate social responsibility." He convincingly shows that these are over-ballyhooed by their enthusiasts, and over-disparaged by their critics. In fact, they make useful, albeit marginal, contributions to the welfare of communities and society. He draws useful distinctions between the many different manifestations of CSR, and offers thoughtful metrics for evaluating them. He cites literally hundreds of examples, and helps the reader to think about them in a rigorous and disciplined way. This is a must-read for corporate executives and business students.
12 people found this helpful
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on February 21, 2006
Vogel has provided us with a much needed skeptics eye view of Corporate Social Resposibility. This book is a very accesible and practical guide for the manager who is beset with open ended questions and needs realistic answers to a difficult subject. The "needs to have" are separated from the "nices to have", the realistic from the theoretical.

At less than 200 pages, this is the one book the operating manager needs to read on the subject.
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on November 17, 2005
Vogel's THE MARKET FOR VIRTUE is the seminal work in CSR. His lively text offers the right mix of theory, analysis, and example. His conclusions are profound and will make a difference for the better. Required reading for corporate executives, business and management students, and those of us who simply wish to be informed participants in 21st century society.
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on October 25, 2005
Excellent and neutral analysis with accuracy and clarity. Helps thinking about future of CSR professionnals.
4 people found this helpful
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