The most simple definition of Karma, about a third of the way down the wikipedia page, is that 'if you do good things, good things will happen to you – if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you'. It originates from Eastern philosophies but is something that we westerners have taken on board too.
I am a firm believer that karma happens in life. I also believe karma exists in business.
Nike got the karma it deserved through infamous e-mail exchange it had with a customer who requested the word "sweatshop" on a pair of customisable sneakers. More recently, Chevy Tahoe landed itself in a bucket full of Karma.
Now that marketing messages are firmly in the hands of the public, with consumer generated content all the rage, karma has become inescapable.
Of course, not all business Karma is bad Karma. US retailer Whole Foods' clean energy decision is good Karma. American Apparel's ethical business model is also good karma. Companies like these will win in the end.
Karma isn't track-able. It isn't scalable and it isn't measurable. It doesn't guarantee a strong ROI. It doesn't ensure overnight profit or market share gains. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be integral to your business.
Make sure you remember good karma in your business strategy. Not just as an add-on, but as a cornerstone of what you do.