Ethics in International Business

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Literature Review

The corporate social responsibility of Friedman (1970) may have generated provocative and academic debate, but the reality of business ethics has been the inclusion of stakeholders, responding to sustainability issues, aligning ethics with human rights and proactively pursuing policies friendly to sustainability to build their trade names.

Berle and Means (1932) mentioned the stakeholder in business literature as early as in 1932 and need for a greater transparency and accountability after The Great Depression 1929. It was Free who pioneered the theory of stakeholder in strategic management by positing the idea of the firm’s responsibility to the supplier, customer, employees and society to make the capitalism click (Freeman, 2010). Thereafter, the stakeholders view has been visibly pronounced in business ethics as well. Even firms have responded to the pressure of stakeholders in order to avoid bad publicity. Shell had to accommodate the Greenpeace view not to decommission a rig in the sea though scientifically Shell’s argument was correct on benign scientific implications whereas Greenpeace’s stance was scientifically incorrect (Bowie and Dunfie, 2002).

In 1989, after an oil spill in Alaska, people were shocked to see the scale of environmental disaster that resulted in the emergence of the Valdez Principles (Exhibit 1) a voluntary compliance to environmental standards, later titled as Ceres Principles on the lines of Sullivan Principles (Exhibit 2), which was a response to racial abuses in workplace (Nevis and Sanyal, 1991). Organizations, like Marks & Spencer (M&S), have taken a proactive role in this area by introducing Plan A to minimize the negative environmental implications. M&S has set the goal of achieving 180 commitments to address the environment issues (Marks and Spencer, 2013). The idea is based on the notion that there is no alternative or Plan B to save the earth; therefore efficient use of resources...
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