work and business essay

work and business essay

The Impact of Work and Business on Society: An In-depth Analysis

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1. Introduction

Almost every report, book or article on business takes a certain frame of reference. That frame of reference is ‘business in society’, and interests are largely confined to the understanding what is good for business, the creation of wealth, and the views of those who control and guide. The occupants of boardrooms, and those that aspire to join them—for instance, graduates who enter business and management schools mainly in the hope of one day making it—need to know not only about business, but also about the wider context, the real world of real people with a real need to go about their real lives amidst pressing and widespread social, health, welfare and other issues with which business has to be correlated and into the perspectives and processes of which practice teaches us the young businesspeople do not spend most of their time. Business occupies a position of structural power and wealth, and is inured to the pressures that are so important insofar as they reach beyond policy paper into the living processes of society. The intent of this report is to examine, in some detail, the substance of the relationships between business and society, to unpick the largely financial and quality-of-work consensus, and to suppose that many of those who are party to the determination of what businesses do, both in and outside of the power echelons, aspire to much more.

As previously mentioned, this report aims to consider the relationship between business and capitalism on the one hand and the rest of society on the other. It sets out from a simple understanding of the nature of business and proceeds via an analysis of the relationship between business and democratic processes, the ways in which decision-taking is influenced and potentially corrupted, and the development of regulation. It argues that, whatever degree of market freedom might be supposed to work for the efficient operation of business (if one existed), and therefore for the success and longevity of capitalism, business is not in a morally different position in society from any other actor. It should expect much regulation to guide its behavior, many other feet in the moral landscape in which it has to tread, and many other interested actors and leaders to exercise power in order to secure their own views of the common interest, often with jealous and legitimate eyes on business.

2. The Evolution of Work and Business

Trading and business continued to flourish and expand. Economy and business co-existed. Governments, while taking a major role in economic development, frequently sought ways to control business. Expenditures for defense contributed to greater economic development. Trade ranked high in America’s list of national policy objectives. By the end of the era of mercantilism, England had become the greatest empire in the world. Its major role in relatively peaceful economic development was due in no small measure to the triad of policy objectives followed by England. The study of the impact of the conduct of work and business has been mainly the preserve of social scientists, because they alone are professionally situated to anticipate, explore and describe the unknown, and to analyze discontinuous events occurring around us that tend to catch us off guard. After decades of field work and empirical studies, a general law of work and business has emerged. Its essence is that there is a significant cause-and-effect relationship between the welfare of a group of people and whether they correctly anticipate and guide the human energy and resources they expend in their work and business. Prolonged human conflict is the main consequence of unilaterally conducted work and business. The struggle for a more equitable distribution of the results of work and business has always been and still is at the center of efforts to anticipate, guide and reconcile disparate locations and claims of business interests. Prior to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, feudal lords and monarchical rulers concentrated their efforts on dividing lands, territories, and other material resources. In so doing, the political counterparts of early businesspersons sought to protect or enlarge the power and privileges of their respective aristocracy. Other elements of society and the existence of individuals were of small interest. Development and progress, while considerably limited in scope, speed and direction, were based on a harmonious marriage of work and social control. It was an era in which society maintained the casual and non-reciprocal character that marked primitive economies.

Primitive man or woman might take a day or even a week doing something we would contract out in a few minutes, and that we would pay dearly for. Labor-saving devices, the result of technology, have been the main source of increased productivity and a better standard of living. The second most important influence in increasing productivity is the division of labor, which rests on another basic human trait: specialization. A related factor is cooperation in conducting business, which is possible only if there are both a gain that inures to those who form the cooperative group and laws to protect the interests of all. Division of labor, specialization, and cooperation in conducting business make towns, cities, and other communities possible. But communities exact a big price. They foster interdependence, and they create and require some degree of uniformity in behavior and thinking, i.e., stability. Stability is another of the basic human traits. Stability speeds up human action. Stability makes it possible to learn and apply what is learned.

3. The Socioeconomic Effects of Work and Business

It is easy to forget that labor is not bound to work; as in any other factor market, wages can be so high as to induce more hours of work than people would like to do. People might like their free time leisure – more lunches with the family, artistic pursuits, mountain climbing, or even just relaxation – so much that they would demand higher wages to give up the non-work activities and replace them with work activities. All factors of production can be and are put to good use only when they are being paid for their services. Consider the technological implications of labor working less, playing chess more often, or being paid, rather than being the ones who pay, for getting suntanned. This also means that we will generally overvalue labor’s importance and undervalue the need to keep capital and entrepreneurship working efficiently. Because not working is such a costly activity for labor, it is greatly valued at full price when it is working.

Let us now take all the activities a person indulges in, creating goods and services or not, and sum them up as “work.” Society, as we know it, and the great strides it has made in technology are largely a product of work. Of course, this work has a multitude of causes: the “work ethic,” the inherent restlessness of civilization, the challenge of increasingly complex problems, among many others. But taking a hard and realistic economic stance, one might be very confident that work’s most important cause is that people are paid to work. Why people are paid, and consequently, why society has made the great strides it has, are the questions addressed by much of microeconomic theory.

4. Ethical Considerations in the Workplace

Historically, managers have been found to do the wrong thing when not under constant public scrutiny. The importance of an ethical framework should therefore never be neglected. There are several varying codes of ethics drawn up by different businesses and organizations, yet not all are suitable to be replicated. Nonetheless, the Code of Ethics and Human Rights of the National Association of Social Workers is an excellent prototype to be used as a model for all companies. It avoids the creation of an organizational culture that does not encourage righteous behavior and instead fosters the creative and innovative operation that is essential in today’s world of competitiveness. The code emphasizes how recent changes in the working world are both a result and a cause of a change in ethical attitudes. The zero-sum game that states that if one party wins, it is because another party experiences a loss, is a false assumption. With the power of people power, society can harvest benefits for all workers. Companies who implemented strategies based on moral principles indicate that the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs. In order to be considered a model manager in today’s business world, a combination of professional ethics, ethical consensus, and ethical strategy must be utilized to form a specific company culture.

An extensive examination of literature indicates that the ethical manager in today’s workplace is faced with four main responsibilities. First, the manager should consider workplace diversity issues. It is widely accepted that employees are vastly different, but similar in that they are all unique. The manager’s assignment is to support these diverse individuals by providing opportunities for education and advancement. It is up to the manager to create and promote an environment where every worker feels fully included. The second responsibility is to encourage workers to be self-managed. By being self-managed, employees take on a personal responsibility for their own work. Self-management also encourages a much closer and personal relationship between the worker and their job. Employee motivation is also commonly believed to be higher as self-management increases opportunities for personal growth and challenges. The third of the manager’s ethical responsibilities involves doing what is in the best interest of the corporation. Many individuals support the idea that doing what is good for the company is an external standard of social responsibility. Nonetheless, in order for the company to do well financially, the employees must receive a company-wide support system. In striving to achieve self-management, it becomes the employee’s responsibility to do what they can to make the company prosper. The final responsibility of a moral manager is to behave in a way that benefits both the employer and the employee. Beyond the ‘typical’ attributes normally associated with ethical management, the manager should encourage productive mavericks who add to a free flow of ideas within the company. All of these seemingly trivial values are supported by evidence that clearly indicates a positive relationship between the manager, the employee, and the work environment.

5. Future Trends and Innovations in Work and Business

The assumptions of the workforce – the duration of work lives will extend. Job continuity will decrease. Work will be more bound by an individual’s talent than by the construct of an organization. An individual’s pay will continue to reflect the expected value of his or her work instead of the cost of their time. The most capable workers will no longer pursue careers. Instead, they will choose a series of projects where their potential is matched against the strong needs of organizational business strategies. Finally, management will be at an increasing premium as collaboration and innovation displace efficiency and asset productivity as the primary measures of executive effectiveness. The impact of this on economic growth will be significant. Currently, the world’s gross domestic product is expected to double in 15 years. By the mid-21st century, it will do so in five. Over the next few years, the world economy will fluctuate in response to short-term economic forces but in the mid-term, it will continue to grow as investments in human assets and technology fuel productivity and earnings-per-head grow at a faster rate.

Creating a forecast for the future of work and business would be fraught with many risks, partly because current thinking about future work is characterized by a myriad of unanswerable questions of potential social evolution. Furthermore, there are no agreed frameworks for understanding or interpreting how trends will manifest themselves from the mass of data that is available. There are certainly analyses of how trends will manifest themselves from the mass of data that is available.

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