Firstly, according to some critics, companies should not follow the strategy of sustainable development because they agree that the term Sustainable development is an oxymoron. It provides an unclear meaning and is a contradiction in terms. “This oxymoron of sustainable development takes away from us any perspective of hope. It ensures us development for, and even as, an eternity. Sustainable development for some is just a mystifying slogan because in reality development is not sustainable”. (Serge Latouche, 2003, pp, 10).
In addition, sustainable development represents an altogether vague, inherently contradictory approach to mediating the impasse to development. The main critiques are that “sustainable development is Western construct, perpetuating the ideological underpinning of former approaches. Secondly, it meanly concentrates its efforts on the unsustainable expansion of economic growth, and thirdly,
Its broad nature creates dangerous opportunities for actors to reinterpret and mould the approach the way they see fit”. (Hilary Hove, 2014, pp.53)
Moreover, according to Milton Friedman, there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game. This follows the ethical egoism theory where” An action is morally right if the action’s consequences are more beneficial than unfavourable for the person who acts” (Steven M. Philosophia,1988). It is known that the primary objective of a business is the attainment of profits. But does that mean that profits are the only factor that business manager should consider when making decisions? The issue here, is how does a business engage in actions that benefit everyone? This is a very difficult task, and many companies are not willing to follow a strategy of sustainable development.
Friedman felt that business social responsibility was pure and unadulterated socialism, and even compared businesses that engage in social responsibility efforts to government institutions. This is because in large companies the responsibility of the corporate officers is to make decisions that are in the best interests of the shareholders. The most important goal to shareholders is to make profit. So it is the responsibility of a corporate executive to make as much money as possible, while of course operating within the rules of the game, which refers to established laws. Now engaging in what is termed social responsibility is in direct conflict with the shareholder model because it diverts resources and energies away from profit-maximizing behaviours. (Milton Friedman, Times magazine, 1970) Take for instance giving to a charitable organisation. Friedman is not arguing against donating to charities, but he is arguing that a business is not the appropriate vehicle to do it. For one, finding a cause that all of its shareholders agree with would be nothing short of a miracle. Secondly, by spending energies and resources on social responsibility the business is giving up those alternatives that it may have otherwise engaged in. Those alternatives may produce more of a benefit for the business. Instead, Friedman believed that businesses should pursue profit maximization, essentially making as much money for shareholders as possible, and with that extra cash, shareholders could donate to whatever organization they wish.
1 GRI: Global Reporting Initiative. A framework for sustainability reporting used worldwide.