What are some ways in which businesses can influence the macro environment (such as the social, legal, or political environments)?

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Businesses have have power to influence the legal, political, and social environments. Because business is increasingly global, businesses can effect—or try to effect—change on a global scale. They often do this because governments fail to take action in response to a perceived problem. Business leaders' measures are not sufficient, however....

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Businesses have have power to influence the legal, political, and social environments. Because business is increasingly global, businesses can effect—or try to effect—change on a global scale. They often do this because governments fail to take action in response to a perceived problem. Business leaders' measures are not sufficient, however. Governments need to take action, too.

The killing of Jamal Khashoggi (1958–2018) by Saudi agents in Turkey caused many businesses to cease their operations in Saudi Arabia. By doing this, they hoped to further the causes of freedom of the press and human rights. Billionaire Richard Branson was one of the high-profile businessmen to take action:

What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government.

However, some other business leaders have continued to operate in Saudi Arabia.

Dick's Sporting Goods removed guns from many of its stores after a recent mass shooting in Florida. This policy has not hurt its business, and more Dick's Sporting Goods stores are ending gun sales. CEO Ed Stack did this to make a statement about gun control.

In recent years, a number of companies have introduced measures to reduce or eliminate their use of plastic. McDonald's is one of these companies. They have taken action in order to protect the environment from contamination by plastic products.

In the end, the actions of Branson, Stack, and environmentally-friendly companies are not likely to be completely effective. Some international companies continue to operate in Saudi Arabia. Many stores still sell deadly guns in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. Pollution caused by plastic remains a serious problem. In all of these cases, strong governmental action is needed.

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There are many ways in which businesses can affect the greater environment in which they operate.  The ways in which businesses can do so depend largely on which aspect of the environment we are looking at.

For example, a business or group of businesses can have a significant impact on the legal environment through lobbying and other similar activities.  Businesses know that the laws and regulations created by governments can have a major impact on their operations.  Therefore, they spend large amounts of resources on lobbying as a way to try to impact the laws that are made.  This lobbying, then, can have an effect on the sorts of laws that make up the overall legal environment.

Businesses can also have an impact on their social or cultural environment.  For example, businesses that are willing to extend spousal benefits to same-sex partners of their employees are changing the social and cultural environment in which they work.  As another example, many businesses try to change the social and cultural environment by promoting “green” practices.  By promoting these practices, they might help to change the social and cultural environment and create more demand for green products.

In these ways and many others, businesses can have an impact on the macroenvironment in which they exist.

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