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When is Success Unethical?

When is Success Unethical?

Has Apple's market power contributed to a perceived decline in the quality of its products?

October 29, 2007 —

In an age where true monopolies are few and far between, few people question whether a corporation can act unethically simply by being too successful. Tobais Webb, editor-at-large for Ethical Corporation magazine, does:

Surely there should be a debate about how powerful actors in society use that power? When you are far better than the rest and dominate your market early (as with Microsoft), or try to (BP in propane) you may have a moral obligation, if not initially a legal one, (in Microsoft's case) to consider the value of a competitive market.

Market power is defined as the ability of a firm to alter its price without losing customers to its competitors. The more power there is in a given market, the less competitive it is. This puts smaller firms at a disadvantage and allows a corporation more leeway to act unethically in other areas. A good example of this is the defiance Wal-Mart showed for years in the face of protests from environment and labor activists. It's probably no coincidence that Wal-Mart has become more receptive to reforms now that Target is threatening its market share.

What does this mean for the ethical consumer? Just another reason to buy local and avoid the big guys whenever possible.

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