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Ep 303: Environmental Social Governance (ESGs) and Business Ethics with David Rose

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Summary – Environmental Social Governance (ESGs) and Business Ethics with David Rose

Standing in for Doug Stuart is LCI’s founder, Dr. Norman Horn. With him today is professor David Rose from the University of Missouri. Dave Rose is a Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has served as the Department Director of Graduate Studies and as the Department Chair. He received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1987 from the University of Virginia.

His primary areas of research interest are behavioral economics, political economy, and organization theory. He has published scholarly articles in a wide range of areas. His work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the HFL Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and the John R. Templeton Foundation. He is currently in his second term on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. In 2008 he received the St. Louis Business Journal’s Economic Educator of the year award.

You might have heard of ESGs (environmental social governance) from various climate change advocates. David Rose helps us understand what ESGs are and their relationship to stakeholder theory. Rose then contrasts the practice of ESGs (including their historical precedence) with business ethics illustrating for us some inherent problems. Rose explains the social benefits of maximizing profit, why this is a net good for society, and it proves to be a boon philanthropically. Another problem Rose highlights is in business ethics itself. Not only are few university students taking this course, but people who should not be in the position are the ones teaching the subject. (No surprise!)

This episode is a great introduction to the topic of environmental social governance and why we should pay attention to these practices.

Main Points of Discussion

00:00 Introduction
01:45 Environmental Social Governance – what is it?
04:43 History of “corporate responsibility” (stakeholder’s theory) compared to ESG – how did we get here?
08:33 The evolution of business ethics and current problems
13:41 Is a business firm a moral agent? The personification problem.
The evolutionary theory of firms
19:10 Why ESG proves to be a profound problem on the social effect of business firms
20:45 The effect of ESGs on pension funds
24:25 Why does the firm need to be philanthropic when people can do that on their own? (demonizing profit)
30:19 The “decades of greed” correlate with the most philanthropic time in American history
How can we understand that ESG will harm this?
35:17 There’s no virtue in spending someone else’s money
37:48 Profit is a signal you’ve served someone else well
39:27 Practical advice to build awareness for ESG and problems in society
41:48 Concluding thoughts

Resources Mentioned

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