Ethical Relativism

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Ethical Relativism;
No moral truths, just relative to the individual/culture. When is different just different and when is it morally problematic? Diversity of standards often leads to issues with regards to;Corruption/work practices/child labour/inferior products/government influence Situation sensitive: need for tolerance/understanding of variety of cultures. Moral diversity: no wrongs/rights, based purely on social norms. Shouldn’t pass judgement on situations we don’t understand. Only guide to is what is legally/morally accepted in host country. “Culture matters” (Ellis and Thompson ’97), not McDonaldisation (loss of diversity). Need to take differences in PESTEL into account.

Limitations;
Suggests each country should live as they see fit, no allowance for countries interacting. Suggestions it cannot coexist with international business and that universal codes should be established to prevent powerful MNE’s exploiting countries. (Fisher and Lovell ’09). Cannot mean that anything goes, unsustainable in its purest form. HR issues cannot be ignored (BAT in Uzbekistan).

Universal Rules;
If relativism is wrong, should be some rules such as respect people/do as little harm as possible/put yourselves in their position (all flawed however when we look at perceptions). “Real need for social norms of some kind” (Ruggie ’06). Need a coordinated response from org/gov/comm to demonstrate good practice. Pluralism: realises the difficulty associated with imposing universal rules but produce codified ethical statements to adhere to (Caux Roundtable, Fair Trade, Uni Human Rights). Positives: certain things remain intolerable.

Negatives: an arrogant our truth is the truth slant and we can’t learn from other cultures.

Role of the MNE;
Adv for MNE: Wages, salaries and social contributions lower.“Able to pay wages and impose working conditions that are shockingly but operate well...
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