Documentary ‘The Corporation’

You will be watching the documentary The Corporation. In addition to the documentary you will be reading four articles related to issues presented by the documentary: 1. Sugar Industry Influence on the Scientific Agenda of the National Institute of Dental Research’s 1971 National Caries Program: A Historical Analysis of Internal Documents 2. Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away from Bad Diets 3. Money and Medicine: Indivisible and Irreconcilable 4. Research Scrutiny: Corporate influence and outright fraud undermine academic science Finally, you should also use the document “Who’s Who in the Corporation” as resource. After viewing the documentary and reading the articles, you will write an essay discussing the ethical dilemmas presented in the film. Your essay MUST be: ● at least 4 pages long ● double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman Your essay MUST incorporate: Introduction A summary of the documentary-what was the topic? Who was profiled in the film? (it’s not necessary to list each individual by name). Where did the events take place? When was the documentary released? Who were the documentarians? Body The Corporation provides a variety of ethical issues for discussion. You may choose to discuss any of the suggestions below. The Corporation: Individual or Institution?

The Corporation provides an account of the institution’s birth as a legal “person” whose prime directive is to produce profit for shareholders regardless of the cost to anyone, or anything else. What are the legal rights and responsibilities of a corporation? Individuals comprise corporations. Is it the character of the individuals that define corporations? Or do corporations dictate the character of the individuals? The documentary raises important questions about ethics and personal responsibility. In discussing the “nag factor,” Lucy Hughes says that she “doesn’t know” if what she does is ethical, while Michael Moore states that “we have to accept responsibility” for our actions. To what extent is a person responsible for what they do even when within a company? Individuals such as Noam Chomsky remind us that we must differentiate between the institution and the individual. Is there a problem when a “nice” person is involved in a company that engages in some unethical practices? What responsibilities do people have to call attention to or try to stop practices that they view as unethical? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) CSR is the integration of business operations and values, whereby the interests of all stakeholders including investors, customers, employees, the community and the environment are reflected in the company’s policies and actions. Social responsibility and accountability – some argue that corporations who do not act responsibly will be “punished by the market” (i.e., consumers will not make purchases if they act unethically), while others feel that governments or citizens should regulate industries and businesses.

The documentary suggests that government regulation of corporations is a better approach to corporate power than relying on “corporate responsibility.” Economist Milton Friedman disagrees, arguing that social responsibility is not corporations’ area of expertise, nor is it democratic for them to decide. Do you agree with that the corporate social responsibility approach is limited? Or do you believe corporations have a responsibility to improve, and not endanger, society? What does “sustainability” mean? How is the use of the term in The Corporation similar or different from your definition? According to the film, where do personal, corporate, and governmental responsibilities fit into the equation for building a more sustainable world? In the film, Interface CEO Ray Anderson says, “the notion that we can take and take and take and take, waste and waste, without consequences, is driving the biosphere to destruction” as we are shown pictures of biological and chemical wastes pouring into the atmosphere. He describes businesses as “plunderers” and suggests that someday, such plundering is sure to become illegal. Do you agree with this prediction? What do you think it will take for environmental accountability to be taken more seriously? Advertising While some argue that advertising to children is taking advantage of their lack of cognitive development, others feel it is fair game to help them satisfy needs and wants. How do you feel about it? Some (Chomsky, Klein) have charged corporations, through years of advertising and public relations, with defining people’s social roles as consumers and creating beliefs that corporations are responsible for prosperity. The concern is that people are disassociated from one another, and preoccupied with fulfilling needs and wants at the expense of democratic participation, human development, interaction, etc. Those who dispute this claim feel that it is either inaccurate, not a result of corporate actions, or both. Do you believe that consumerism has negatively affected social relations? If so, what do you believe is the role of corporations in this phenomenon? What responsibility do corporations have to provide consumers with the risks associated with their products? What are their responsibilities for testing products? Is there a difference between what is legally required, and what is ethically required? Dental Corporations The following is a small listing of the corporations involved in dentistry. Visit the website of at least one of these companies. Does the company have a sustainability/social responsibility statement? Does the company engage in charitable works? Has the company been cited for improper/illegal conduct? Corporate Dentistry Aspen Dental Kool Smiles Great Expressions First Impressions Pacific Dental Services Heartland Dental DentalWorks Corporations in dentistry Procter & Gamble (Crest) Colgate-Palmolive Oral B GlaxoSmithKline (Sensodyne) Hu-Friedy Philips Sunstar Americas Inc Conclusion Incorporate two or more of the following: Did you have any particular views before watching the documentary and did they change after you saw it? Why should dental hygienists be cognizant of issues related to business in dentistry? What is the overall significance for American society of the issues presented in the documentary? Is dentistry a business? If so, what is the dental hygienist’s role in it?

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