South-Western - Management  
A Good Corporate Citizen? This Scanner Can Tell
Topic Ethics and Social Responsibility
Key Words Ethics
News Story 

A new digital tool uses a bar code reader to reveal whether a product has been made by a company with pollution complaints or ethics violations. The device could be used by consumers to make more informed buying decisions.

A research sociologist at Microsoft has been developing a similar device which combines a bar-code scanner, a hand-held computer, and wireless Internet access. He predicts this device could become a feature on a palmtop, and that consumers will be eager for the information.


It is difficult for ordinary citizens to get information on companies' records on issues like pollution, product recalls, and ethical violations. Choose a product that you use regularly and try to find out if there are any reasons that this product might violate normal standards of social responsibility. (Hint: you must first determine what normal standards of social responsibility are.)


Given the explosion of products and features that are becoming available for computers and palmtops, do you think the Corporate Fallout Detector has a broad enough application to be commercially successful? Why or why not?

Source "A Good Corporate Citizen? This Scanner Can Tell," The New York Times, August 28, 2003.
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