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International Management Ethics And Social Responsibility Notes

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Ethics and Social Responsibility

TERMS

Ethics - The study of morality and standards of conduct.

Corporate Social Responsibility - The actions of a firm to benefit society beyond the requirements of the law and the direct interests of the firm.

Sustainability - Development that meets current needs without harming the future.

Fair Trade - An organised social movement and market based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability.

Corporate Governance - The system by which business corporations are directed and controlled.

ETHICS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

The ethical behaviour of business and the broader social responsibilities of corporations have become major issues in countries across the world.

Ethical standards and questionable business practices have received considerable media attention, aroused the public's concern about ethics in international business and brought attention to the social impact of business operations.

Ethics and Social Responsibility in International Management

Unbiased ethical decision making processes are imperative to modern international business practices.

It is difficult to determine a universal ethical standard when the views and norms in one country can vary substantially from others.

Ethics is often the victim of subjectivity as it yields to the will of cultural relativism or the belief that the ethical standard of a country is based on the culture that created it and that moral concepts lack universal application.

It is necessary to some extent to rely on local teams to execute under local rule; however, this can be taken to extremes.

While a business whose only objective is to make a profit may opt to take advantage of the differences on norms and standards in order to legally gain leverage over the competition, it may find that negative consumer opinion about unethical business practices, not to mention potential legal action, could affect the bottom line.

Dilemmas that arise from conflicts between conflicts between ethical standards of a country and business ethics, or the moral code guiding business behaviour, are most evident in employment and business practices, recognition of human rights, including women in the workplace and corruption.

The newer area of CSR is closely related to ethics.

The area of ethics has a lawful component and implies right and wrong in a legal sense whereas CSR is based on more voluntary action.

Ethics Theories and Philosophy

There are a range of ethical theories and approaches around the world, many emanating from religious and cultural traditions.

Kantian philosophical traditions argue that individuals have responsibilities based on a core set of moral principles that go beyond those of narrow self-interest.

A Kantian moral analysis rejects consequences as morally irrelevant when evaluating the choice of an agent.

Rather a Kantian approach asks us to consider our choices as implying a general rule, or maxim that must be evaluated for its consistency as a universal law.

For Kant, what is distinctive about rational behaviour is not that it is self-interested or even purpose driven. Instead, rational beings in addition to having purposes and being able to reason practically in their pursuit, are also capable of evaluating their choices through the lens of a universal law, what Kant calls moral law, or the categorical imperative.

From this perspective we ought always to act under a maxim that we can will consistently as a universal law for all rational beings similarly situated.

Aristotelian virtue ethics focus on core, individual behaviours and actions and how they express and form individual character.

They also consider social and institutional arrangements and practices in terms of their contribution to the formation of good character in individuals.

A good or virtuous individual does what is right for the right reasons and derives satisfaction from such actions because his of her character is rightly formed.

For Aristotle moral success and failure largely comes down to a matter of right desire or appetite.

It is important to have an understanding of what is truly good and practical wisdom to enable one to form an effective plan of action toward realising what is good.

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