Essays on Business Ethics and CSR in International Business Coursework

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The paper "Business Ethics and CSR in International Business" is a good example of business coursework.   The general consensus is that Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility are separate, but not exclusive fields: Coupled with the fact that both the extent and the nature of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, have characteristic variances, which is an operational sense, prompts each organization to either react or actin the application of one or the other. The primary focus of Business Ethics programs is to “ prevent harm” , while the guiding force of Corporate Social Responsibility programs is to “ do good” .

Albeit the two concepts vary, and the thrust may vary from company to company, the focus of the two concepts is invariably shared by most. Zadek argues that: … ” Corporate citizenship [which, for present purposes, is a synonym for CSR] has emerged in its contemporary forms within the context of the emerging new economy… Characterized by the acceleration of every aspect of social life, the collapse of geographical distance as a basis for defining and sustaining difference, and the growing significance of knowledge and innovation as the primary source of business competition and economic value” (Zadek 2001).

Due to the level of acceptance of this theory, CSR is rapidly becoming to be viewed, “ as an economic resource” (McWilliams & Seigel 2001). Held 1977, Hirst 1994, suggests that, “ globalisation is creating a cosmopolitan democracy, involving processes of association and participation at local, national and international levels, in all civil, state and private sectors” (Held, Hirst). On the other hand, Strange 1996, Sassen 1998, have a variant view and these social scientists suggest, “ the diffusion of power from the state to civil society and business represents an undermining of democracy” (Strange 1996). Accordingly, Ottaway 2001 takes the issue one step further: “ this approach, therefore, suggests we question the increasing collaboration between sectors of society on various public policy issues as potentially un-democratic” (Ottaway 2001). The primary premise for drawing the distinction between Business Ethics and Corporate Social responsibility, “ can be drawn from the strategies that each approach deploys” (Altham).

An example would be, “ ethics officers focus on responding to hotline calls: employee questions and concerns. Therefore, they become involved in resolving a problem only after it has been identified” (Altham). Clearly, this strategy is reactive and in the initial stages, it contributes little if anything at all to prevention.

It does, however, provide a framework for the prevention of similar occurrences in the future. Moreover, in an international setting, this reactive approach to business ethics could result in dire or expensive consequences. Few companies develop ethics programs with elements that take responsibility for doing good on behalf of their employees, like reviewing family benefits or addressing unfair pay scales. Whenever an international company takes on independent subcontractors to produce a product, ethically the corporate entity automatically assumes the responsibility of assuming that the bad practices of the subcontractor will not in any way, infringe upon the workers.


Altham, J.(2001) Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Competing or

Complimentary Approaches

Baker, A., (2003), Are Sutandards becoming Standard Operating Procedures? An International Update, International Business Ethics Review

Held, D. (1997), Democracy and Globalization, Global Governance, Vol 3 No.3

Hirst, P. (1994), Associated Democracy: New Forms of Economic and Social governance, U. Mass Press

Jorgensen, H.B. & Pruzan, P.M. (2003), strengthening Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Supply Chains, PWC/World Bank, Copenhagen

McWilliams A., & Siegel D. (2001) Corporate Social Responsibility: A Theory of the Firm Perspective. Academy of Management Review, 26 (1)

Ottaway, M. (2001) Corpotism goes Global: International organization, NGO Networks and Transistional Business, Global Governance

Sassen, S. (1998) Globalization and its Discontents, New Press NY

Smith & Feldman (2003) Company Codes of Conduct and International Standards an Analytical comparison, World Bank/IFC, Wash. D. C.

Strange, S., (1996), The retreat of the State: The Difusion of Power in the World Economy, Cambridge Univ. Press

Zadek, S. (2001), The Civil Corporation: The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship, London

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