Framing Question: How, if it all, can businesses be a force for global good?
The instrumental question seeks to understand what to do about creating a more equitable economic system. We theoretically now know what businesses are doing, why, for whom, and what the current impact is. We can now consider the best way businesses can be a force for good.
Descriptive: What strategies have businesses adopted to be a force for good?
This question sets the stage for a research project. We need to know what is happening to know how to investigate it. What are businesses doing to be a force for good in the communities they operate in and along the supply chains of goods they provide. This may occur due to corporate interest, consumer demand, or government regulation. Work may focus on physical infrastructure of businesses, employees, communities surrounding stores, or throughout supply chains.
Explanatory: Where did the desire to be a force for good emerge from?
This question considers the drivers responsible for this action- why, in the last half century, have businesses began to act as a force for good? In the neoliberal market, businesses have not been responsible for their impacts on various communities throughout supply chains. So if we have businesses trying to be a force for good, who is driving that. Is it individual consumers? Workers or CEOS in businesses? non-governmental organizations? One may believe this desire arises from internal forces to truly change the standards within a production system, or from growing consumer demand for ethical products where businesses can capture the public’s dollar by offering ethical goods.
Evaluative: Are these strategies for good an effective method to address social inequalities and environmental degradation occurring in the neoliberal market?
This question assesses the benefits and pitfalls of business working for good. The question touches on broader concepts like green capitalism, sustainable growth, and ethical consumerism. Various understandings of these social justice strategies emerge from this framing; business strategies for good as a necessary step in the transformation of our current economy to an equitable market system; as the manipulation of consumer demand for ethical products in order to continue producing and profiting off goods while creating a complacent population; a response to consumer demand for ethical products and making changes to production standards so long as the bottom line is not impacted. The evaluative nature of this question means the question will be answered in various ways. This helps to understand major arguments for and against the specific context.
My annotated bibliography and ism map are unique to my area of focus. Rather than frame my concepts around the nature, society, and meaning buckets of traditional environmental studies, I utilized the meta-framework of the state, market, and civil society. Traditionally, the actors of global interactions are understood as this tripartite economy, with the state holding the majority of power. Yet the current liberal democratic capitalist imaginary is undergoing change. Power is moving away from a centralized state and into new arenas of regulation, such as civil society, market forces and corporations themselves, and consumer demands of both business and government. This meta-framework includes a component of scale, with topics operating at both the local and regional and individual and institutional levels. Thus my topics are inclusive and coherent so far as they operate within and between these sectors.
The annotated bibliography and isms map helped address my descriptive and explanatory questions by showcasing the existing relations between topics- what are all the options a business has to interact with various actors in pursuit of global good? Throughout the annotated bibliography search, literature revealed where the desire for corporate good emerged from- global consumer movements and personal pedagogy. These processes were also helpful in determining what businesses ought to be doing- are the strategies currently adopted for good successful? The annotated bibliography was helpful in determining just how effective those links illustrated in the ism map are. What relationships for change hold up under empirical scrutiny? This research revealed new linkages and new areas of focus which require further investigative questions.
These two assignments were immensely helpful in situation my topics and questions in a cohesive and inclusive framework that addresses my own interests of those interactions governing improved regulation.