February 20, 2011 by Amanda Zahn
Here we are with another journal assignment for class. Like I did with the last one, for everyone not currently sitting in class with me, I will copy the questions so you
can keep track of my mind and where it might wander.
And it truly wanders today.
Think of a business you patronize often (a store or a service). What do you like about it? Which business model do you think it most resembles?
Classical or Neoclassical: which model of Corporate Social Responsibility do you think is sustainable in the long run? Why?
My first reaction is to mention Publix. The schedule at Full Sail is very demanding and, because of this schedule, I do not shop as often as I would imagine other people my age do. My life is relatively steady, almost predictable in that comfortable know-what-to-expect-each-day type of way. The only reason I ever need to go anywhere is for grocery shopping. Would Publix be my first choice for this assignment? No, I do not think so. It is the only thing fresh in my mind with which I have to work, however, so I press on. I do have an idea for a wrench in the gears, or a loophole on the grounds of the word “service”, but I am unsure if I will go there unless I am really unhappy with the way Publix is working for me here.
In any other point in my life, I would have found myself with a plethora of grocery stores from which to choose. I could drive long distances to go to one with good prices or a great atmosphere. I could avoid a not-so-nice one with relatively little issue or thought. My situation in Orlando is different though. I am sure there are other grocery stores I could be utilizing for my household needs, but the most prevalent is Publix. There is one within easy driving distance of almost anywhere in Orlando. Being restricted to one near-monopolistic entity is not as bad as it seems though. Publix is surprisingly good as far as grocery stores go. The prices are reasonable and I have never gone to a store looking for something specific and left disappointed.
Another thing I really enjoy about Publix is the employee standard. They are cheerful, almost disgustingly so, and always seem motivated to help with whatever I might need. As a worker walks from one task to another, I am greeted with a “Can I help you find anything?” as they pass me. I have never taken them up on the question, but I have no doubt that they would stop what they were doing to make sure I got the assistance I needed. Next time you go into a Publix, look at the aprons they wear. The pins on most aprons specifically mention not to tip them. This is unusual to me because, when I was working as a bagger in a grocery store, I worked for tips alone. There was no hourly wage. That Publix has a standard that says not to tip the workers, that tells me they are getting paid comparable wages and are happy with the set up.
A grocery store is, ultimately, a business. Profit is important to keep the business running. What I do notice is that Publix does not go out of its way to be the cheapest. When compared with Wal-Mart prices, Publix is typically more expensive. In a world where a business model must be labeled, I suppose I would categorize Publix as Neoclassical. I can see the pursuit of profits being important to the controlling hands in the company, but I would argue that their adamant support of the experience of shopping at Publix supersedes the draw for income. They do everything in their power to guarantee the experience is positive and the shoppers continue to return. If given a choice between losing some money and going out of their way to make sure ten customers come back, I believe Publix would choose the customers. It is because of this “obligation to a moral minimum” that I would say Publix is more Neoclassical than Classical.
In every choose this or that situation, there must be a correct answer, right? Maybe, but I have always been an advocate of the different shades of gray. There are certain benefits of both, the Classical and Neoclassical, and the question would not be posed unless there were viable arguments for both. The Classical is historical. It is the thought process of many years of business in almost every culture on Earth. Make the money. Better the business. Make more money. Is it always the ‘right’ way to do things? Is putting profit before morals ethical? Is bettering the business, but not caring about the employees, image, or social responsibility of the company, an effective way to make money? Maybe. It is always “maybe”.
Neoclassical makes me think that someone eventually found a way to make money AND do good for the environment, the workers, or society as a whole. Some random guy was working the cookie cutter job for owners who did not care about him, but the profits his contribution brought into the company. This random Joe eventually broke away from this mold and changed the world by introducing society to a business that recycles, or a corporation that pays its workers a bonus for an idea, or a company that supports and motivates those who volunteer with something larger than themselves. It gave the people hope that they could make a more positive imprint on our world.
Both Classical and Neoclassical have their benefits. Both are sustainable and I do not believe either can exist without the other. Think of insanity. A favorite Edgar Allan Poe quote of mine says, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Does a sane person know they are sane? Do they grasp that sanity like a life preserve? Do they fear the darker side, the insane? Without knowing insanity, how could they truly understand the difference? Maybe they are already insane but without something to compare it. This is the point where my mother would ask me to clarify the benefits, specifically, of sanity and insanity.
It is not about the benefit of either, but about understanding that we need one to adequately define the other. If we take one company known to be ‘green’ and aware of the environment, or strong in volunteerism, how do we describe it? Typically we say something like “Company A is awesome because they, unlike Company B, care for something larger than profits and numbers.” This pleases me because it means that we as a society will constantly be exposed to businesses and corporations attempting to make the world a better place. Will they succeed? Will they change our outlook for the better? Will they give us a driving passion to think of things much larger than ourself?
Maybe. It is always “maybe”.