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International Corporate Responsibility Series

Volume 3, 2007
Controversies in International Corporate Responsibility

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1. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3

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political and economic background

2. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Walden Bello

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This article argues that the key crisis that has overtaken today’s global economy is the classical capitalist crisis of over-accumulation. Reaganism and structural adjustment were efforts to overcome this crisis in the 1980s, with little success, followed by globalization in the 1990s. The Clinton administration embraced globalization as the “Grand Strategy” of the United States, its two key prongs being the accelerated integration of markets and production by transnational corporations and the creation of a multilateral system of global governance, the pillars of which were the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The goal of creating a functionally integrated global economy, however, stalled, and the multilateral system began to unravel,thanks among other things to the multiple crises created by the globalization of finance, which was the main trend of the period. In response partly to these crises, partly to increasing competition with traditionally subservient centre economies, and partly to political resistance in the South, Washington under the Bush administration has retreated from the globalist project, adopting a nationalist strategy consisting of disciplining the South through unilateralist military adventures, reverting to methods of primitive accumulation in exploiting the developing world, and making other centre economies bear the brunt of global adjustments necessitated by the crisis of over-accumulation.

corporate responsibility: basic issues

3. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Eric Palmer

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Milton Friedman’s famous comment on Corporate Social Responsibility is that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.” I reply to Friedman, Michael Jensen, and others, in argument that accepts their implicit premise—that business can be a virtuous mechanism of free society—but that denies their delimitation of responsibility. The reply hinges upon precisely the virtue of “freedom” these authors clearly consider intrinsically valuable. In the extreme case where maximizing profits would place government underthreat, such activity will not coincide with maximizing social value and would undermine the freedoms these authors claim to value. Responsibilities will also apply in less extreme cases, if we develop Amartya Sen’s argument showing that, “we have to see individual freedom as a social commitment.”
4. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Loke Min Foo

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This paper distinguishes norms for corporate responsibility in developed and developing countries. In the former, corporate responsibility should reflect “ Third Way” values of restoring individual responsibility and social relationship, and these can be achieved through stakeholder engagement. Since stakeholder engagement often presumes an adequate level of individual rights and rule-governed behaviour, it is incompatible with the current political and cultural characteristics of developing countries. This paper suggests that the end of CR initiatives in developing countries is to promote stakeholder rights and good governance, while the means is through stakeholder empowerment.

regulation and conflict of interest

5. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Gwendolyn Yvonne Alexis

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Greatly aided by an information age in which protesting laborers in a remote offshore outpost can capture front page headlines around the globe, theSarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SARBOX) has made corporate transparency the linchpin for good corporate governance. Under a SARBOX-enhancedregulatory framework, publicly traded corporations are required to rapidly disclose material changes in their financial conditions or operations—changes such as impairments to goodwill, a trademark, or some other intangible corporate asset. Especially challenging for multinational corporations (MNCs) with far-flung corporate empires is the need to stay abreast of the ebb and flow of goodwill, at a time when transnational human rights groups are aggressively mobilizing world opinion against the sweatshop labor conditions that abound at the offshore production sites favored by MNCs. The author explains why the convergence of a digital age of free-flowing information and the advent of SARBOX, a legislative enactment of paraenetic design, is causing the boards of MNCs to more critically evaluate the long-term costs of their offshore operations.
6. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Asolo Adeyeye Adewole

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The paper examines the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR) against the backdrop of its self-regulatory posture. Using the African experience as a case study, the paper observes that the activities of multinationals show very clearly that they are grossly irresponsible despite their professed self-regulation. Instead, the multinationals have created an image of terror due to their deep-rooted involvements in human rights abuses, environmental degradation, tax evasion, bribery, market manipulation, and other forms of unethical practices, notwithstanding their so-called self-regulation. The paper concludes by advocating the establishment of a broad-based United Nations Global Business Regulatory Agency to fully take charge of corporate regulation in the global business terrain.
7. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Daylian M. Cain, George Loewenstein, Don A. Moore

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Conflicts of interest can lead experts to give biased and corrupt advice. Although disclosure is often proposed as a potential solution to these problems, we show that it can have perverse effects. First, people generally do not discount advice from biased advisors as much as they should, even when advisors’ conflicts of interest are disclosed. Second, disclosure can increase the bias in advice because it leads advisors to feel morally licensed and strategically encouraged to exaggerate their advice even further. As a result, disclosure may fail to solve the problems created by conflicts of interest and may sometimes even make matters worse.

environmental issues

8. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Christopher S. Miller, Silvia M. King

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This paper reviews the experience of an integrated approach to CSR in the U.S. electric utility sector. The authors report on the results of Southern Company’s historical definition of CSR as a dynamic model, balancing stakeholder needs through shifting pressures to assure long-term shareholder value, superior customer, price performance, and sustainable economic development. Using financial and utility sector measures, the paper assesses the company’s “balancing” approach to addressing CSR, which weights corporate, environmental, community, and economic factors in driving successful and sustained financial, social, and environmental performance. The paper concludes by suggesting that CSR success in this sector requires, first, that the global warming issue be governed by the same balancing considerations to which all stakeholders and their legitimate interests are subject, and second, an energy policy that embraces both atechnology policy and appropriate regulatory incentives.
9. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Ying Hua, Xiaodi Yang

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The cement industry is one of the most energy-intensive industries and among the largest CO2 emitters. Cement industry emissions in China have attracted particular attention, due to the country’s rapid growth. Yet few local Chinese cement companies have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and even fewer have environmentally related CSR programs. This paper studies the environmentally related CSR practices in mainland China of two companies: Lafarge, a multinational cement company, and Shui On, a Hong Kong-based construction company and developer. We are interested in examining if there are differences in their environmentally related CSR practices, especially those related to emissions, in industrialized countries and Hong Kong on the one hand andin mainland China on the other—given that environmental regulations on the mainland are lax and an awareness of global climate change is largely nonexistent. Our intention is to investigate the influence of the CSR practices of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on the local Chinese cement industry, because they could be regarded as an effective vehicle to improve CSR awareness and practice in the Chinese cement industry and to help alleviate the industry’s impact on global climate change. We found that beneficial knowledge transfer from MNEs to local companies has not gone beyond improving production technology and management methods to the point of influencing CO2 emissions. Lafarge China and Shui On Cement announced a joint venture partnership during the course of our case study, and we examine whether this venture may have an impact on emission-related CSR practices in the Chinese cement industry.

health issues

10. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Betty Dee Makani-Lim, Felix Chan Lim

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This paper presents the critical role of corporate responsibility in the sustainability of health care programs in lower income communities mostly located in the rural areas. The Leaders for Health Program (LHP)—a tri-partite partnership between the Philippine Department of Health, the Health Unit of the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business, and Pfizer Philippines, Inc.—is an innovative approach focusing on health promotion and education as the cornerstone for community development. LHP adopts a systemic and comprehensive approach that takes into consideration all the major stakeholders in health, especially in rural communities. This paper aims to support the viability of education as the main catalyst for community empowerment and self-sufficiency.
11. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Douglas K. Peterson

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The objective of this paper is to suggest types of analysis that can help managers effectively choose NGO partners that help them meet their international corporate sustainability and social responsibility goals. NGO partner choices should offer a good fit to corporate goals/objectives and create opportunities to reap the benefits of social responsibility and sustainability efforts, which include public image, environmental protection, customer and stakeholder satisfaction, employee morale, and (most importantly) the completion of work that serves a social responsibility or sustainability goal. Examples of this type of goal include providing income generation activities for persons with HIV/AIDS, and educational opportunities for people who would not normally get them. The paper exploresthree lenses through which partner choice may be viewed: agency theory, transaction cost economics, and resource dependency. Areas for further exploration are suggested, and a comprehensive research agenda/model is discussed.
12. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
David Rygl, Markus G. Kittler, Carina Friedmann

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Since the first diagnosis of an HIV infection in 1956, the number of victims infected with the virus has dramatically increased to 40.3 million in 2005. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa carry the largest burden of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Various programs against the spread of the epidemic in this region have been promised. The objective of this article is to analyze to what extent these programs can achieve a sustainable effect. This article examines in detail the sustainability of thirteen programmes initiated by large American and European pharmaceutical companies. It finds that none of the examined programs offers a fully sustainable solution. However, programs that were organized in cooperation with local authorities or organizations appear suitable to reach sustainable effects in high-prevalencecountries. As a result, cooperation seems to be an important prerequisite to implement the infrastructural measures necessary to guarantee sustainable effects in sub-Saharan Africa.

ethical consumerism

13. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Pat Auger, Timothy Devinney, Jordan Louviere

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This paper describes the results of several large empirical studies that investigated the impact of social product attributes on consumer purchase intentions. Our results show that some consumers are willing to pay for more socially acceptable products, but that most of those consumers do not think about the social product features of the products they purchase. Furthermore, our analyses demonstrate that consumers can be segmented based on their preferences for (or against) social product features and that these segments are not country-specific.

csr in developing countries

14. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Nicholas Capaldi

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Every firm or corporation faces both political and social transaction costs. The existence of political transaction costs is one reason firms, and even whole industries, employ lobbyists. CSR is an example of a social transaction costs. CSR means serving social and political interests without direct remuneration but in a way that is consistent with and indirectly serves long-term investor value; it is not philanthropy. Some will argue that the firm is not really being responsible or generous but only serving its own long-term interest. But that is precisely the point. The reasons this category of CSR must be introduced are that (1) it is obscured by the classical liberal perspective, sometimes to the detriment of the shareholders; (2) failure to recognize it, obfuscates the role of management, part of which is to look at a macro-context that includes more than markets; and (3) it misses the important extent to which business leaders can, may, and should have a vital role in formulating public policy.
15. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Runa Sarkar

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) concerns the realm of business behavior in which the firm tries to effectively manage its business and non-market environment interface. Coerced CSR refers to taking socially responsible action in response to or in anticipation of retaliation in some form (boycott, adverse publicity, introduction of regulatory laws, etc.) from interest groups who are not directly part of the market to which the firm caters. In contrast, strategic CSR or altruistic CSR refers to socially responsible activities undertaken out of enlightened self-interest. The focus of this paper is to understand whether the impact of coercion is different for government-owned organizations and privately owned firms in developing countries. Activities that are in response to or in anticipationof threats by interest groups are identified and compared across publicly and privately owned firms, against the backdrop of weak enforcement of fairly stringent environmental regulation. We then generalize our observations and attempt to distinguish the intensity of pressures felt by public and privately owned firms and their speed of response. As a result of this understanding, we attempt to suggest specific policy mixes for various types of industry, depending on whether they are dominated by the public sector or private sector.
16. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Jeanne M. Logsdon, Harry J. Van Buren III

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While the literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) suggests that its form and content differ at least somewhat from country to country, it has not begun to address whether CSR practices converge or diverge over time as countries benefit from higher levels of economic development, or whether these practices relate to specific cultural values and institutional structures. This paper proposes an initial conceptual model and propositions to begin to assess whether and how the different levels of economic development, cultural values, and institutional structures influence CSR behaviors. Mediating variables related to industry sector and executive moral development are also included in the model. The paper begins to lay the groundwork for empirical country and regional studies that cancontribute to a greater understanding of the factors that influence CSR behaviors.

eastern european issues

17. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Irina Soboleva

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a subject of broad public and academic discussion in Russia for several years now. The author argues that the key criterion for CSR is direct (non-market-based) cooperation among all stakeholders, cooperation that to a large extent shapes the behavior of the firm and therefore includes ethical and social concerns in the decision-making process. On the basis of this criterion, three levels of CSR are distinguished. The main factors that are gradually shaping the Russian model of CSR are emphasized. It is shown that lack of state social expenditure and a coherent system of benefits for socially responsible firms, coupled with the persistence of paternalistic relations, hinder and bias the development of socially responsible behavior at all levels.The author argues that CSR practices can be effectively realized only if accompanied by a coherent state social policy.
18. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Vladimir Petkoski

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While the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is based predominantly on the experiences of developed countries, the context in developing countries differs greatly, varying according geography, culture, and level of development. A survey was conducted in Macedonia with the aim of determining the local context and specifics of CSR through an analysis of four elements: the rule of law, competition and standards, complementary CSR institutions, and internal corporate structures and practices. It showed that an increasing number of companies are starting to consider CSR as an investment and not simply as a cost.

east asian issues

19. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Liu Goggin, Aidan Kelly, John F. Hulpke

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Guanxi is essential to doing business in China. Even those who are minimally familiar with business in the People’s Republic seem to know this. How should Western business organizations look at guanxi? Further, if guanxi is seen as essential, what is the responsible approach to guanxi building? These questions may have different answers depending on one’s perspectives. First, what is guanxi?
20. International Corporate Responsibility Series: Volume > 3
Stephen Yan-Leung Cheung, J. Thomas Connelly, Piman Limpaphayom

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This study examines the degrees of corporate disclosure and transparency of publicly listed companies in two emerging markets and analyzes corporatedisclosure practices as a function of specific firm characteristics. The analysis uses the disclosure and transparency scores extracted from a survey instrument designed to rate disclosure practices of publicly listed companies by using the OECD Corporate Governance Principles as an implicit benchmark. Empirical results show that financial characteristics explain some of the variation in the degrees of corporate disclosure for firms in Hong Kong but not for firms in Thailand. Further, corporate governance characteristics, such as board size and board composition, show more significant associations with the degrees of corporate disclosure inThailand than in Hong Kong. The results are broadly consistent with the notion that good corporate governance leads to better corporate disclosure and transparency in less developed markets.