Corporate citizenship in a changing world.

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Recently, ExxonMobil took stock of its worldwide involvement in society, and published a report entitled Corporate citizenship in a changing world. The report illustrates the many ways that a company interacts with the societies in which it operates.

We have discussed a number of these in other editorials, but it is worthwhile reflecting upon the more general issue that corporate responsibility addresses.

In our view, the fundamental role of business is to help create prosperity.

This is no trivial matter. Private companies have shown themselves to be essential participants in bringing a better material life to people worldwide. If they fail to respect the business priorities and the market focus that make them successful, they fail in their primary mission.

But good and successful companies do more: they can help in substantial measure in many other areas of human life.

Some is accomplished by example, in situations where integrity and trust are highly prized and where honesty is elevated to a central beacon.

Other benefits come through a rigorous approach to safety in operations and in measures to provide a healthy workplace. Careful attention to the details of operations will also ensure that the environmental impact of what is done is minimized.

Research related to new products and new processes can provide value, affordability, ever-better performance, and greater consumer benefits. In many places, the technology that a company brings will help societies in unimagined ways.

A successful company can contribute to the...

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