Globalizing economies are more and more integrated. Value chains of production and distribution are organized on a worldwide basis. Firms are main actors of globalizing economies. Drivers of globalization are the search for natural resources, modern technology of communication (satellites, internet, cell phones, integrated software), efficient transport (container ships) and political choices to enhance international business (trade agreements, trade unions, WTO). As a consequence, international trade flows have tremendously increased the last decades and will continue to grow. One of the results is worldwide economic growth, especially in what we call emerging economies. Increased world production and consumption raises important issues, which concern humanity as a whole. The first, and probably most urgent, issue is climate change. Our production and consumption systems induce massive CO2 emissions, leading to global warming and its consequences. Firms have a main responsibility in global warming. Also, firms, looking for natural resources, intermediate components and low labour costs worldwide, (re)localize more and more activities in many countries, which are rather often developing countries with less strict rules and regulations on pollution or working conditions. Thanks to Internet and NGO activism, companies can no longer behave unethically in those countries. Their reputation is at stake. Optimists even state that a well-thought and communicated corporate responsibility in the globalizing word can become a main competitive advantage for firms.
Our students will be main actors of the globalizing economic system in the coming years. Especially because they have already chosen to participate in a Globalization Academic Program. The main goal of this course is to raise student’s awareness about the responsibility of firms in the economic globalization. The starting point of our approach is the widely accepted sustainable development concept, as defined by the Bruntland Commission Report (1987) calling for economic development that “meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” We state that sustainability and economic development must find a balance between economic progress, environmental preservation, and social equity. This is frequently called the triple bottom line, or the PPP: Profit, People, Planet.
This course will highlight a number of specific corporate social responsibility topics, including the economic, social and environmental aspects of doing business in a global context, the social responsibility when a firm sets up factories or outsources production in developing countries, corruption in international business, fair trade, and ethical behaviour in international business.
This course aims to increase the student’s understanding of personal and business ethics, which is a necessary for developing Corporate Social Responsibility in an international context, through readings, case studies, groups discussion and an empirical investigation. Students will have to demonstrate critical thinking as well as the ability to perform in an international and culturally different environment. After completing this course, students are able to:
• develop reflexions on their own personal ethical values;
• develop reflexion on the link between personal ethical values and corporate ethical values;
• realize that international business induces ethical dilemmas;
• understand the main components of corporate social responsibility;
• realize the importance of ethic at the workfloor;
• understand global labour practices and human rights;
• reflect on MNC’s codes of conduct: how to implement, control and assure effectiveness;
• reflect on international business and corruption;
• reflect on environmental issues in international business.
Indicative teaching program
1_Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility
Readings: Lane & Maznevski, “International Management Behavior, Global and Sustainable Leadership”, Chapter 9, “Global Sustainability”, p. 255-275
2_Introduction on Business Ethics
- Ethics, personal and cultural values, moral rights
- Cultural differences in ethical norms
- Philosophical approaches to ethics
- Unethical behavior at work
- Ethical management & management of ethics
Readings: J.R. Schermerhorn, 2011, Exploring Management, 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Chapter 3, p. 55 – 81, “Ethics and Social responsibility”
Student projects part 1: examples & groups
3_Employment Practices in Foreign Factories
- Global corporations and local labor practices
- Codes of conduct, control and effectiveness
Case study 1: Inditex outsources to Morrocco
Student projects part 2: Choice of companies and topics
4_Global Corporate Social Responsibility
- Ethical issues in international business
- Ethical dilemmas
- Making ethical decisions internationally
- Corporate social responsibility and sustainability
- What is exactly social corporate responsibility
Readings: C.W.L. Hill & G.T.M Hult, 2016, Global Business Today, Chapter 5: p. 127-157, “Ethics, CSR, and Sustainability”
5_Global Sourcing Practices of Multinational Companies
Case study 2: Codes of conduct in the furniture industry, the case of Ikea in India
6_Ethics at Work and Organizational Behavior
- Ethical Behavior at the workfloor
- Ethical Decision making
- Ethical Leadership
- Ethical Corporate Culture
- Big Brother is watching you !
- Carbon Footprints of meetings
Readings: Robbins & Judge, 2016, “Organizational Behavior”, Global Edition, excerpts
7_Ethical Sales Practices in Competitive Markets
E. Soltes, HBR 2017, Why It’s So Hard to Train Someone to Make an Ethical Decision
R. Carucci, HBR 2016, “Why Ethical People Make Unethical Choices”
Case study 3: Ethical Sales Practices in the pharmaceutical industry
- Transparency international
- Gifts become bribes: where does corruption start?
- Causes and effects of corruption
- Global companies and corruption
- Solutions to corruption
Readings: P. Lasserre, 2012, Global Strategic Management, Chapter 15, “The social responsibility of the global firm”, p. 397- 404,
Homework: Corruption and management challenges
Student projects part 3: Intermediate presentations
9_Environmental issues in International Business
- Greenhouse gases, deforestation, waste, pollution
- Multinationals responses to environmental issues: relocation of production, technology, raw material use, energy use, environmental restoration, pollution disclosure
- Multinational’s opportunities: new consumer products, new technologies, new industrial products
Readings: R.A Ajami, Cool, Goddars & Khambat, 2007, International Business Theory and Practice, Chapter 17, MNCs and the Earth’s Environment, p.379 - 393
Case study 4: FIJI Water: the Environmental Impact of Global Business
10_Eco-certification and Global Value Chains
Case Study 5: Hip Hap & Certification of the Global Supply Chain
11_Reduction of CO2 emissions by multinationals
Case Study 6: Patagonia wants to be carbon neutral in 2025!
12_MNC’s CSR: real case studies, presented by students with group discussions
Students are divided in multicultural teams. Each team investigates the corporate responsibility policy and real ethical behavior of a multinational company. They compare facts (reported by journalists) with the CSR policy as promoted on the website of the company and in its annual reports (including the CSR report). They also might investigate an ethical dilemma inherent to an industry (i.e. situations where real ethical behavior might not be so clear).They confront the real situation what the MNC intends to do and they conclude. This is followed by team discussions
Student’s empirical research and presentations
Students will actively work in multi-cultural teams, prepare and resolve case studies, do an empirical study, which they present in class. We focus on the company aspect of corporate social responsibility, but personal view on ethics in international business will be discussed throughout the lectures.
Compulsory readings and case studies will be uploaded to Moodle.
6 case studies - collective grading - 30% of the final grade
MNC’s CSR: empirical case study, presented by students with group discussions - collective grading - 30% of the final grade
Written exam (exam week)- individual grading - 40% of the final grade
• Ajami, R.A., 2007. International business: theory and practice, 2nd ed., Prentice-Hall of India, New Delhi.; Chapter 17, Ethical Concerns: Multinationals and the Earth’s Environment, p. 379 – 393
• Hill, C.W.L., Hult, G.T.M., 2018. Global business today, 10e ed. McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY.; Chapter 5: p. 127-157, “Ethics, CSR, and Sustainibility”
• Lane, H.W., Maznevski, M.L., 2014. International management behavior: global and sustainable leadership, Seventh edition. ed. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom.; Chapter 9, “Global Sustainability”, p. 255-275
• Lasserre, P., 2012. Global strategic management, 3rd ed. ed. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York.; Chapter 15, p. 397-422, “The social responsibility of the global firm”
• Robbins, S.P., Judge, T.A., 2015. Organizational behavior, 16. ed., global ed. ed. Pearson, Boston, Mass. Munich.
• Schermerhorn, J.R., Exploring management, 3rd ed. ed. Wiley, c2012, Hoboken, NJ. ; Chapter 3, p. 55 – 83, “Ethics and Social responsibility”
Last updated: 17 January, 2023