If a business is inherently destructive and unwholesome, it should be outlawed by the state. Allowing such a business to continue is the government’s way of abdicating its responsibility. It’s like government saying “we may not like the nature of your business but we won’t like to forgo the revenue from the taxes that you pay by banning you.”
I think the ethos of the founders or promoters play a fundamental role in determining how a business will preserve and create value for the larger society.
I do believe, however, that most businesses are there to make profits; they don’t take a nonprofit view of things.
Even CSR is a way to soften the blow for most companies, that is to offset the damage to their image that results from some negative effect of their operations, such as pollution. There is thus a strong marketing angle to CSR.
That’s why, the government will have to be ever vigilant and up-to-date to monitor corporate activities and determine whether a business is creating social value or destroying it. The state is in the best position to take a non-profit view of things.
The current dysfunction of the state in providing public services and protecting public interest is a temporary phenomenon.
As the state is distancing itself from running industrial enterprises, it will be able to focus more on formulating public policy and making sure that private interests comply with that policy.
I think all companies should be required to publish their annual CSR reports. There must be something like an RTI in the matter of CSR activities of private companies.
The more information we have in public domain, the more selfregulating corporate activities are likely to become.
Also important is to modernise our laws and judicial system so that the state is ever ready to protect public interest from private greed.