Corporate social responsibility can be defined as the duty of organizations to conduct their business in a manner that respects the rights of individuals and promotes human welfare. While the level of social responsibility exhibited by multinational corporations is said to be improving, perfection has hardly been attained. Governments and people around the world seem to have an increasing interest in scrutinizing the actions of global corporations, in effect forcing international companies to be "good corporate citizens." One reason for this could be the realization that multinational companies (MNCs) are not as invincible as they were once thought to be; therefore, their policies can be influenced to benefit society. A second reason may be a realization that effective legal governance of companies whose activities stretch beyond national borders is impossible, leaving self governance as the only practical alternative.
Social responsibility in business has been debated for a long time, and several sides of the issue have been presented by ethicists.
This debate has been extended in recent years to include the operations of MNCs. This article will summarize some of the changes in the attitudes and behaviors of MNCs and their perceptions of corporate social responsibility in light of the evolving nature and composition of global competition. After a brief discussion of some of the popular theories in ethics, the article reviews past recommendations for enhancing corporate social responsibility.
Even today, the age-old question still echoes through the boardrooms of MNCs around the world: "If it is legal, does that make it ethical?" The focus of the term ethics falls primarily on judgments pertaining to what is right or moral and what is wrong or immoral. One definition of ethics could be the clarification of what constitutes human welfare and the conduct necessary to promote it. The...