Thursday, June 7, 2007

Listening to customer concerns

The recent announcement by Sir Crispin Davis that Reed Elsevier will divest its defense show business is very interesting. I am sure this was a very tough decision and I applaud it.

What I find really fascinating is the trend for companies to be held morally accountable for their activities, even when these activities are entirely legal. In this case the major defense show that caused much of the concern (DSEi) is organized in association with the UK Government. Can it be that it is more effective to hold a corporate enterprise to account than a government? What does that say for our political system?

Remember Google and the censored search results in China? Their defense was that censorship was less evil than not to be in China at all (BTW see here for a great spoof on this). This goes beyond social responsibility; it is a tricky moral trade-off. I wonder how many corporate enterprises are well equipped to make moral judgments like this.

I grew up in a world where moral philosophy was the domain of governments or the church. Nowadays we set higher goals and expectations. We users have the web to make our voices heard and we have discovered the power of choice. Who would have thought it?!

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