The answer to this issue requires qualification. I agree with the John L. Campbell’s statement that corporations are less likely to act in socially responsible behavior if there is too little competition. In monopolistic enterprises where corporations do not have any competitor, there is indeed no reason for companies to engage in socially responsible behavior. The same applies in the case of Wal-Mart which virtually does not have any competition in the field of retail industry.
The company knows that its customers do not have any choice but to go to them since it is the leading retailer of virtually every cheap product an average family needs for its consumption. Suppliers who want to sell their products to their consumers are forced to reduce the quality of their products just so the same could be sold through Wal-Mart at a cheap price. Employees who do not have opportunity for a better employment have no choice but to accept the low salaries being offered by Wal-Mart.
In the case of Wal-Mart, survival, good name and reputation is immaterial since it knows that the consumers, suppliers and the employees have no better alternatives. On the other hand, I partially disagree with the statement that if there is too much competition corporations are also less likely to act in socially responsible way. It is true that in some ways intense competition may be bad for the public in the sense that companies that may compromise the quality of their products and cheat their customers to be able to keep up with its competitors.
Not all competition, however, is bad. According to Frederick N. Gordon, in some ways, intense competition could be good because it may drive away those businesses which initially held positions of privilege and authority but does not have the talent, skill and social responsibility to compete. (p. 3) In fact, intense competition may even help in displacing those corporations that compromise the quality of their products, cheat the customers and abuse their employees.
John L. Campbell’s statement that there is no universal objective standard of what constitutes a socially responsible corporate behavior is very accurate. On one hand, intense competition may be bad because it may lead to rivalry between the competitors and may force them to resort to tactics that may be prejudicial to the public and the society. On the other hand, it may be better for the society because the society will eventually find out which product is more superior and which company deserves to be trusted.
My opinion however is that intense competition in the long run may be more beneficial because the public has the opportunity to choose which among the products available has superior quality. Skilled employees may eventually be recruited by other corporations. Corporations must therefore continue to be engaged in socially responsible behavior if they do not want to lose their clients and skilled employees to its competitors.