Discussion Post 1
Intellectual property (IP) are those items that people create and because they are the creators of them, the own them. They prove this by patenting them, and they can then claim ownership and charge for the use of their IP. However, some believe that for various reasons—such as the benefit to humankind or sharing the information with another corporation may enhance both companies bottom lines—IP should be openly shared. The way around this is a balance of sharing versus owning, but balancing still means sharing, so perhaps that is not the fair solution either. Perhaps the way to balance out the sharing of IP is to determine whether or not the IP will benefit humankind, and then the owners of that IP focus on what God would have them do. If they have a pure heart and want to serve God, then they will share and still reap the rewards of the talents God has given them.
Balancing Business Needs with Customer Needs
Balancing the needs of the inventor with the needs of the public is a complex undertaking. How much IP does the inventor want to share without being compensated? Perhaps the inventor is willing to share to benefit humankind but may want to be compensated well for that sharing. Most artists, whose inventions constitute the shared product (i.e., songs), want to be compensated every time their IP is shared because that is how they make their living by creating art to share. The exchange in the share is the IP for money, which is also a balance, and perhaps the fairest method of balancing. Biagioli (2019) of the journal, History of Science, explains that compensation may still not be an adequate method of balancing the use of IP with the creator’s needs. This is because many artists’ works are easily copied for free on the internet. Copyright laws cover this and can render the artist whole usually after a court battle that revolves around the fact that the original work was not stolen, only copies of it. However, if someone were to use a piece of another person’s land without their permission, the compensation and penalties for this unlawful use would be greater than they are for the unsanctioned use of IP (Biagioli, 2019, pp. 142-143). Still, currently the best way to balance the sharing of IP is through monetary compensation. Until a more just method is created, requiring payment for the use of IP is the best way to balance the needs of both customers and creators.
The Responsibility of Companies with IP that Saves Lives
However, there is another way to compensate the creators of IP and it is actually a return on investment. God invested in humans and gave the gifts of talent, intellect and capabilities. He intended those to be used to help other humans. It used to be that inventors would see a problem such as a disease that killed many people. They would find a way to prevent the disease by creating a vaccination, for instance. While they may earn fame and fortune from doing that, the inspiration for their innovation was not money. It was the betterment of humankind perhaps because they believed that God gave them the ability to invent so that they could share their skills to help others. Nowadays, because of the overarching promotion of wealth in a capitalistic society, that same inventor may have pursued a cure because they believed they could earn wealth from doing so. While this seems less than moral, business ethics permit it. IP such as inventions of vaccinations and pharmaceuticals are patented, protected and lucrative.
Companies with Christian owners may try to maintain corporate social responsibility (CSR). OseiTutu (2018) of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law explains that CSR’s goals are to protect human rights or remedy something that has violated human rights. Sharing IP with the world may be a way to protect or address violations of human rights, but corporations also have a duty to their shareholders to make profits. OseiTutu (2018) says that corporations do not have any legal or moral obligation to address human rights violations but a corporation wanting to exhibit CSR and working within an IP framework would have some moral obligations. And, a corporation may want their consumers to see them sharing life-saving IP so that they can promote their brand. However, as OseiTutu (2018) points out, it comes down to cultural norms moreso than it depends upon the law or any moral obligation corporations may or may not have (OseiTutu, 2018, pp. 488-489). Christian business owners should share their gifts as Paul writes in Romans 12: 6-8. He says that when God has given the gift of creation to a human being, that should be considered grace, and it should be used to serve God in whatever capacity the gift is manifested.
How a Company Practicing CSR in an IP Framework should Respond
The owners of companies that have IP that can save lives, correct injustice, or address human rights violations should share their IP. Not only will it give them the peace of mind and heart that their existence on Earth has not been wasted, they will also earn a reputation as a corporation that truly practices CSR. Owners of IP that will benefit humankind should be willing to share their IP to help others whether or not it will improve their reputation. God will bless those companies that share with a good reputation and more customers. According to Fitzgerald (2019) of CNBC, more than 200 CEOs of some major companies have discovered that the blessings from God that follow from doing the right thing are real and tangible. These CEOs have changed their view on what the purpose of their existence is. Fitzgerald (2019) quotes Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, who says that many major employers have abandoned the old notion of the purpose of a corporation is solely to make profit for its shareholders. Now companies are investing in their employees and their communities and continuing to try to help create an economy that serves all Americans (Fitzgerald, 2019). Perhaps their motivation is building their brand reputation, but hopefully it is a much higher inspiration and they will be truly blessed.
Christian businesses should have no hesitation about sharing IP that can benefit humankind. Their faith in God should lead them to the conclusion that God will bless them more for the good deed of sharing the gifts God gave them than not sharing will profit them. Some corporations have come to this conclusion already, and hopefully, they are role models for those that still have not figured it out.
Biagioli, M. (2019). Weighing intellectual property: Can we balance the social costs and benefits of patenting? History of Science, 57(1), 140-163. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0073275318797787
Fitzgerald, M. (2019, August 19). The CEOs of nearly 200 companies just said shareholder value is no longer their main objective. Retrieved from CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/19/the-ceos-of-nearly-two-hundred-companies-say-shareholder-value-is-no-longer-their-main-objective.html
OseiTutu, J. J. (2018). Socially Responsible Corporate IP. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 21(2), 483-516. Retrieved from https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA589513271&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=1942678X&p=AONE&sw=w&userGroupName=oregon_oweb
Discussion Post 2
How should a for-profit corporation balance its business needs with the needs of its customers?
Essence of Business
Business is a group activity to achieve a singular purpose, profit. Although businesses are for-profit, some business theorists tell us that conducting business is not exclusively to increase shareholders’ equity but also for stakeholders. Stakeholders are greatly affected by the company’s decisions. Van Duzer is one the business theorist that argues the betterment of employees should also be a goal of management by allocating profits to improve and create a sustainable environment for employees and its other stakeholders (Erisman & Gautschi, 2015). Other business theorist sees conducting business in a servant leadership type of management. Serving the stakeholders comes first, instead of the decaying business practice of mainly profit pursuits and sacrificing the common good.
The management must take a proactive approach to create an initiative to help the company’s community. Corporate social responsibility benefits the community and benefits the corporate’s image to their immediate stakeholders. It balances the share of equity to the shareholders and routes it back to the stakeholders. However, most corporations’ initiative on corporate social responsibility is because of a scandal that creates a bad reputation (Liang & Renneboog, 2017). The pressure it builds on the company to do good is immense that it begins a momentum for other companies to be socially responsible every day. An example is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest oil spills in the history of humanity, thus creating momentum for energy-related companies to improve the efficiency of their oil spill and environmental controls.
Customer is the Lifeline
Companies that take care of their customer’s needs will continue to exist as they reinvent themselves to help and empower their customers. An example is how Apple, a technology company, come from nearing bankruptcy to one of the most valuable companies in the world (Shontell, 2011). Apple integration of the Apple ID creates a personalized experience for the product user. Personalization of deals and activities on the device empowers its customers to experience the world in a better light. As the customer uses the product (Binns, 2020), Apple uses this data to help the customer make better decisions every day as it does for its other users around the globe. Apple is a brand that is built by the people and for the people.
Mission Statements are Important
Objectives are essential for businesses to be goal-driven organizations. On the other hand, companies’ mission statements help clarify the existence and values of the company itself. The mission statement supports the company’s move towards the common good (Brunelli & De Carlo, 2020). It allows a top-down approach for the practice of business ethics in the company. It spreads from the top management throughout the entire organization, and in an optimal environment, to the customers. Enhancing its business practices to serve the consumer further will eventually create more profit.
Lives depend on products created by some companies. Do these companies have a greater responsibility to work towards benefitting the consumer more than themselves?
Essential Products and Services
In this COVID-19 era, it makes the business world reimagine how they do everyday operations. The pandemic changed how grocery shopping works, incorporating wider aisles to have a safe space between consumers and allowing online grocery shopping. Additionally, it focuses on the convenience of curbside or no contact delivery for people that are terrified to go out (Severson, 2020). It also exposes the inequalities of society, business shutdowns, and numerous companies began laying off people (Bansal et al., 2021). Consumers that have less purchasing power are growing during the pandemic. Sales of grocery stores and other essential goods are skyrocketing.
Society at large is hurting because of the pandemic, and the researchers are working harder than usual to end this virus. Companies like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax invented a faster way to make a vaccine for COVID-19 and applied for intellectual property protections. One of the companies that successfully created the vaccine is Pfizer, and they are expecting 26 million dollars in profits without royalties. Still, due to increasing public health risks, the Biden administration waives the patent protections for the process of creating the vaccines (Shalal et al., 2021). It will let developing countries access the creation of the vaccine. This massive decision by the government shows that if companies fail to help society, the government will step in and protect the public for the greater good.
A company that does not profit would cease to exist as it will find it challenging to fund its projects. Organizational activities that are established will stop, and the company’s name will vanish. Without profit, the company will lose its ability to produce a flourishing product to better society. Businesses have made abundantly clear that profits are a need; management ideals of the 21st century suggest that listening and helping consumers will create a long-lasting relationship.
Look at the issue from a Biblical worldview. How would you respond if you were running such a company?
Service Before Self
An example of a business practice that I would do is Chick-fil-A, a famous fastfood restaurant, which firmly believes that Sundays are worship days. Still, due to an indefinite power outage, Chick-fil-A served thousands of stranded passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Additionally, Chick-fil-A breaks its Sunday rule only to contribute to help better society. A company’s simple acts of kindness will always go a long way and will create a sustainable community.
Strengthening One Another
As Bible will say, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, 1 Thessalonians 5:11). As the business becomes essential, the responsibility lies on the company’s owner to provide services and products to consumers to the best of their ability. The establishment of a company meaning creating a greater collective to achieve a bigger goal than anyone can achieve by themselves. Bigger goals will help the community live a better life than before it. If the business has more than it could spend, investing in the community around the company will create a positive atmosphere for everyone. Thus, it lives the teaching of the Bible to motivate, encourage and help each other; in times of stress, let’s not forget to build each other up.
Bansal, P., Grewatsch, S., & Sharma, G. (2021). How COVID‐19 informs business sustainability research: It’s time for a systems perspective. Journal of Management Studies, 58(2), 602-606. https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12669
Binns, R. (2021). Apple CRM case study. Expert Market. https://www.expertmarket.co.uk/crm-systems/apple-crm-case-study
Brunelli, S., & Di Carlo, E. (2020). Accountability, ethics and sustainability of organizations: New theories, strategies and tools for survival and growth. Springer.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). ESV Online. https://esv.literalword.com/
Erisman, A., & Gautschi, D. A. (2015). The purpose of business: Contemporary perspectives from different walks of life. Palgrave Macmillan.
Liang, H., & Renneboog, L. (2017). On the foundations of corporate social responsibility. The Journal of Finance, 72(2), 853-910. https://doi.org/10.1111/jofi.12487
Severson, K. (2020). 7 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed How We Shop for Food. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/dining/grocery-shopping-coronavirus.html
Shontell, A. (2011). The amazing story of how Steve Jobs took Apple from near bankruptcy to billions in 13 years.The Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-steve-jobs-took-apple-from-near-bankruptcy-to-billions-in-13-years-2011-1#1998-introducing-the-imac-2
Shalal, A, Mason, J. & Lawder, D. (2021). U.S. reverses stance, backs giving poorer countries access to COVID vaccine patents. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/biden-says-plans-back-wto-waiver-vaccines-2021-05-05/