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Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK? Essay

The need for corporate social responsibility

According to Plant (2004), various factors appear to affect the relationship amid alcohol and society. Though the interaction between these influences exists, no particular factor tends to emerge dominant in the drinking pattern development especially among young people.

In fact, this explains why any prescription on alcoholism in the society requires a blend of several approaches (Plant 2004, p.906). In the same way, no single sector, corporation, or institution can claim to have measures that can tackle the issue (Wilsnack & Wilsnack, 1997).

In the UK, for instance, the government, health organizations and other entities as part of the wider stakeholder has a responsibility to contribute towards the reduction of harmful health impacts or the unsafe alcohol consumption patterns (Turrisi et al., 2000, p.348).

As part of the corporate social responsibility strategies, firms in the industry find it critical to collaborate with other stakeholders in order to attain this goal. Each partner must play its role succinctly. The firms reexamine important issues that are of great essence to the wellbeing of the businesses including research, responsible marketing, as well as issues concerning alcohol abuse prevention and consumer enlightenment.

The government must put in place appropriate policies such as social policing control, tax policies, and quality control measures to curb the menace (Vakalahi, 2001). In essence, corporate social responsibility takes cognizant of the societal basic values, corporate ethics, policies, and practices that control the beverage alcohol industry (Crane & Matten, 2010).

The continuous public scrutiny measures the extent of social responsibility and accountability that the alcohol industry has on the consumption of alcohol (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). According to Mundt (2011), corporate social responsibility requires collaborating with other stakeholders within the industry through joint actions and via dialogue.

Scholars’ claim that coming up with a strategy intended to reduce alcohol consumption entails various multifaceted health, confidentiality, takings, and edifying concerns (Mundt, 2011). Therefore, there is need for alcohol policies based on the wider stakeholders’ engagement (Trevino & Nelson, 2010).

The CSR model in the control of alcoholism

According to bylaws, corporations are considered as independent entities. Though managed by individuals, corporations are independent from these individual managers and the employees (Visser et al., 2010). The CSR approach asserts that the sole responsibility of the firm is to improve the well-being of the stakeholders (Visser et al., 2010).

In other words, corporations have the responsibility of increasing returns on investments made by the shareholders. However, corporations have a moral obligation not only to the stakeholders, but also to the society. In terms of CSR model, the moral obligation is the ethical responsibility while returns on investment can be considered as the economic responsibility (Crane et al., 2008).

Besides the economic and legal responsibilities, ethical responsibilities are critical in the attainment of the organizational goals. Modern organizations particularly firms in the alcohol industry take into consideration the need for moral obligations for their sustained growth and development (Crane & Matten, 2007).

These companies engage in CRS not only to build their reputation but also to create good relations with the public and the government (Crane et al., 2008). The nature of their product, the public perception, and scrutiny requires that they adopt socially responsible strategies.

The utilitarian approach

The utilitarian model argues that any action of the firm would be correct so long as it results in the greater societal good (Crane & Matten, 2010). The argument is that provided the action of the firm leads to the happiness of the stakeholders then such actions should be upheld.

Crane and Matten (2010) argue that firms should embrace those values that increase happiness or greater returns to the stakeholders including societies in which they operate. In fact, this is the moral obligation of the firm, which can be applied by firms within the alcohol industry.

Whether happiness or good can be valued remains an opposing viewpoint of this approach. However, Fisher and Lovell (2006) argue that quality and quantity of such attributes can be calculated when it comes to ethical considerations.

Mariya, C argue that “the values that strengthen this philosophical view point are that enhancing the amount of pleasure and reducing the amount of pain for the greatest amount of people is more important than one’s self interest.” The increase in pleasure and reduction of pain are more important than the means used to acquire the outputs (Fisher and Lovell, 2006).

The firms in the alcohol industry in the UK can emphasize on those activities that pleases the society rather than those activities that benefits the company and its shareholders. In essence, the companies should not only emphasize on profit making but also measures that reduces the effect of alcoholism in society.

These actions include reduction of alcohol content and creating public awareness on the harms of excessive and underage drinking. In this sense, the companies become society friendly and reputable. The reputations of the companies have long-term benefits that outweigh the losses they currently incur through increased public campaigns.

Egoistic approach

According to Jennifer, C “entities ought to pursue their own self-interest exclusively and they have no any other duty apart from fulfilling their self interest. Even though this approach is concerned with self-interest, it does not mean that entities should not embark on helping others. However, entities will have long-term benefit through helping others. In essence, entities will help themselves through helping others.”

This theoretical perspective coins three important values. First, entities are obligated to meet the desires of their stakeholders. Secondly, these needs can only be sustained if all get fulfillment and finally all must come up with strategies that will help fulfill such desires.

This perspective looks at the individual benefit rather than the benefits that the society derives from other entities. Hassan, C asserts that “the approach is based on the notion that an act is considered moral if the person who has done it have the freedom to do it and it is aligned with short or long-term desires or interests that the person may have.”

Egoism underpin values that fosters the freedom of choice and access of information necessary to help businesses to chose the right decisions in their point of view that leads them to satisfy their desire. Another value is customers and stakeholders are the ones that could decide what is morally acceptable.

Alcohol beverages if consumed irresponsibly can cause severe individual and social harm. In the contrary, alcohol offers substantial individual gratification as well as social benefits (Turrisi et al., 2000, p.348). The quantity consumed by individual as well as the quality is the most important factor to consider in its consumption (Plant 2004, p.906).

Individuals are responsible to control their behaviors towards others as well as for themselves. However, they need information from corporations that act as guidance or help them delineate suitable degree of that responsibility. In other words, corporations have the responsibility of providing standards and control in the consumption of the beverage alcohol (Shaw, WH 2010).

De George (2012) asserts this does not mean that the firms in the industry stop pursuing the goal of profit making, rather legitimately pursues both profit making and promotion of public good through responsible social behaviors. The corporate social responsibility in this sense entails encouraging consumers to drink sensibly and responsibly.

The ethical action should be part of long-term strategy for the attainment of economic interest for the company (Beccaria et al., 2012). The efforts of the industry that are directed towards promoting increased responsible drinking pattern among citizens is a way of demonstrating to the public and other stakeholders particularly those concerned with public health that the industry is serious about alcohol abuse.

In essence, the industry as well as associated stakeholders is seriously contributing to the reduction of alcohol consumption misuse and harm (Pettersson et al., 2009).

The stakeholders’ models

Stakeholders’ theories suggest that the interest of all stakeholders ensure sustained growth and long-term development of the company (Crane & Matten, 2010). If properly applied, firms within the beverage alcohol industry in the UK will have no conflict of interest with other stakeholders especially those concerned with health.

Crane and Matten (2010) claim that the strategy will ensure the corporations attain the long-term profit making objectives and the attainment of their social responsibilities.

According to Crane and Matten (2010), normative stakeholders’ theory provides an elaborate framework through which corporations can take into account the interest of all stakeholders. In addition, the theory provides a framework through which moral or philosophical guidelines linking the corporations and their activities are identified.

The framework on how these corporations can actually take into consideration all the stakeholders interest is provided in the descriptive stakeholders’ model. The model views corporations as a convergence of various interests most of which are competing though others might be collaborating (Malachowski, 2001).

This can be applied by firms within the beverage alcohol industry on how to deal with divergent interest of various stakeholders. Moreover, the theoretical framework provides ways through which these corporations can fulfill their corporate responsibilities particularly those concerned with the harmonization of alcohol consumption, responsible marketing, and health (Ferrell et al., 2009).

The normative descriptive model provides a framework through which corporations can involve various stakeholders in the attainment of their social responsibility goals.

Whether it is beneficial to take into account the various stakeholders interest in the moral obligations of these firms is anchored in the instrumental stakeholders’ model (Fisher & Lovell, 2006). This model analyzes the benefits the firm will get by considering the interest of other stakeholders.

That is, the impact of including the interest of other stakeholders (Crane & Matten, 2007). Firms within the industry can use the instrumental stakeholders’ model to examine the relations between their stakeholders’ management practices and the attainment of their various governance goals (Malachowski, 2001).


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Silas Richards studied at Oregon State University, USA, with average GPA 3.43 out of 4.0.

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Richards, S. (2019, December 12). Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK? [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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Richards, Silas. "Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK?" IvyPanda, 12 Dec. 2019,

1. Silas Richards. "Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK?" IvyPanda (blog), December 12, 2019.


Richards, Silas. "Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK?" IvyPanda (blog), December 12, 2019.


Richards, Silas. 2019. "Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK?" IvyPanda (blog), December 12, 2019.


Richards, S. (2019) 'Ethical and social responsibility of the alcohol industry in the UK?'. IvyPanda, 12 December.

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