What Amazon owes Seattle’s homeless is a matter of debate

SMEA Professor and Associate Director Nives Dolšak and UW Director of the Center for Environmental Politics Aseem Prakash recently wrote an article featured on The Hill titled, “What Amazon owes Seattle’s homeless is a matter of debate.” The article discusses the debate on Seattle’s homeless tax, which the authors believe provokes an important question: What responsibility do companies have toward the communities in which they function?

According to the article, there are two perspectives on this issue. The first is that the sole purpose of corporations is to generate profits for its shareholders. In doing so, companies help communities by providing jobs and by expanding their tax base. The second is firms should support communities through corporate social responsibility (CSR). This means firms recognize that they have obligations to multiple stakeholders, including, but not limited to their shareholders.

Amazon sought to address the homelessness crisis in Seattle through CSR. As the article states “In 2016, it converted an old motel it purchased into a homeless shelter with 200 beds. In 2017, Amazon announced that it will create a new homeless shelter in one of its new office buildings.” The authors state that “firms need legitimacy from multiple actors to fulfill their economic mission. They cannot secure social and political legitimacy if they ignore how their operations impact their communities. This is an important reason why firms invest in CSR.”

Read the complete article: http://thehill.com/opinion/finance/388290-what-amazon-owes-seattles-homeless-is-a-matter-of-serious-debate