SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Discouraging a Do-Gooder

Many voices today insist that the businessman should turn the resources of his company toward solving social problems. H. Ladd Plumley, chairman of State Mutual Life Assurance Co. of America in Worcester, Mass., would add a qualifier: The public-spirited executive had better be prepared to face citizen suspicion and bureaucratic pettifoggery.

In 1968, the Worcester Redevelopment Authority asked State Mutual, the nation's 27th largest life insurance company (assets: $1.2 billion), to help rebuild the city's blighted Laurel-Clayton section. Plumley decided to erect 430 units of low-and middle-income housing and invested $11.8...

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