Ethics and Social Responsibility in Strategic Planning


Organizations use strategic planning to focus on significant issues that they wish to accomplish in the future. These could be short-term or long-term. Good management is essential for the perfect implementation of strategic plans. Failure to do this leads to clashes with consumers and regulatory watchdogs in the industry. There is also negative publicity from other stakeholders. It is therefore important for businesses to develop strategic planning and implement it in the desired manner (Dale, 2003, p. 157). Business ethics entails determining business moves that are right or wrong and freely choosing to opt for the right one(s).

This normally presents a challenge since business decisions are normally not a clear white or black situation like, ‘should people steal?’ Decisions sometimes involve unclear circumstances that are not quite defined (Patricia, 2004, p.77). Implementation of the strategic plans entails several employees in the organization if not all. Individuals, therefore, have to fill parts of the puzzle allocated to them so that the entire strategy can hold. Social responsibility is a necessity in this case to succeed. Although there are several challenges faced in the implementation of strategic planning, it is best to ethically pick the right option.

Role of ethics and social responsibility in developing strategic plans

The process of strategic planning normally leads to group planning through envisioning the bigger picture of what the plan is set to achieve. Aspects of strategic planning entail action planning, analysis, and setting up of strategies in stages. The boardroom agendas that formulate these strategies should be transformed into staff performance. A detailed description of the strategic plan should include the actual activities that need to be carried out, how wide the plan should cover, the resources needed to successfully implement it, and the time frame for each stage of the plan. Individual, responsibilities should be specified and evaluation methods clearly stated (Patricia, 2004, p. 84).

Once all the above are laid down, then the ethical implications of the strategic plan are critically assessed before embarking on its implementation. Components of ethics that are checked include rights and obligations of the stakeholders involved, fairness of the whole strategy, relationships that develop from it, and issues of integrity. On some occasions, there may be the need for rewriting of the strategy after the ethical assessment. Checking up the above is essential not only for the people who participate in carrying out the plan but also for the wider community that it may affect as a whole.

According to Werther, and Chandler (2006), ethics and social responsibility are mandatory moral obligations that must be included in good corporate strategic planning. The principal argument is that ethics embedded in strategic planning builds trust on the firm’s stakeholders’ part. This then generates commitment to the firm. Commitment leads to effort on the employee’s part to be cooperative which enhances innovation during the implementation of the strategy. This is a good catalyst for the success of a strategic plan a move that is fundamental to competitive advantage in the current globalized market. Ethics should therefore be core in the general management of any business situation and not only in strategic planning.

The principle above takes the effort of stakeholders which is generated through trust and commitment to be imperative for an organization’s success in a competitive market environment. It allocates several benefits to the organization that can only be archived through ethical operations.

To begin with, strategic planning in any economic organization in a competitive market has its advantages and counter benefits to stakeholders. For instance, an organization may strategically plan to automate most of the services that were previously manually done. Benefits may include faster service delivery and more revenue accumulation in addition to being competitive in the existing market environment if that is the trend in the market. Overall, the business is likely to be successful after full adoption of the strategy. On the contrary, some employees lose their jobs to the machines that have been incorporated into the organization.

How this unavoidable issue is dealt with is of significance to all concerns as it cannot be ignored either. Ethical standards should be applied in solving the challenge amicably in a morally acceptable manner. An example would be to follow the laws governing termination of contracts in that specific environment. This may involve monetary compensation of the employees depending on the duration that they have served the organization among others.

The responsibility of dealing with challenges as those aforementioned lies with the top management of institutions. They also formulate strategic policies. Decisions should be carefully and thoughtfully weighed out before implementation in such circumstances. Social responsibility is a factor that becomes a determinant of the outcome for those that remain for the company’s sake and those who have been dropped in the process of implementing the strategy. Ethical principles offer a basis from which analysis of the situation can be made. This is because they recognize the interests of each group and enhance comparison with known principles.

A trade-off should therefore be reached to maximize the satisfaction of all the stakeholders. An example in the above case would be to give priority to the lump sum payments for those relieved of their duties before considering those who have been retained.

When stakeholders believe that the benefits have been fairly distributed and related harms accordingly shared, then the elements of trust, commitment, and effort come into play. Effective handling of a retrenchment situation motivates the remaining workers whose output is crucial in the implementation of the strategic plan. Each of them needs to do their part of the responsibility in the plan for success to be achieved. It is also the social responsibility of the management to cater to the interest of all parties concerned. Once the stakeholders develop trust in the firm, they get committed to their responsibilities.

Cooperation and innovation triggered by the enhanced effort of employees is a consequence of the developed trust and promotes social responsibility. This gives a competitive edge in the market and hence economic success for the business.

Market practices however put firms first in any strategic planning. It is common to find corporations focussing attention on themselves at the expense of other interest groups. This could be in disregard of existing protection strategies such as laws that protect employees from exploitation by employers. When this is done, there is normally a bone of contention as stakeholders are unsatisfied. The result may be the failure to attain the initial goals of strategic planning.


It is acceptable for corporations to fight for their survival, success, and protect themselves. Leveraging of the available resources and selection of posture are inadequate in the globalized economy. The element of effort, derived from commitment and trust is a necessity. In a nutshell, good strategic planning involves critical analysis of issues, social responsibility, and must be ethical. Simply put everyone should be appropriately taken care of.

Reference List

Dale, N. (2003). Managing corporate reputation and risk: developing a strategic approach to corporate integrity using knowledge management. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Patricia, J. P. (2004). Ethics in public relations: a guide to best practice. London: Kogan Page.

Werther, B. W. &, Chandler, D. (2006). Strategic corporate social responsibility: stakeholders in a global environment. London: Sage.

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