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Ethics in international business: multinational approaches to child labor

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  • Kolk, Ans
  • Van Tulder, Rob

Abstract

How do multinationals address conflicting norms and expectations? This article focuses on corporate codes of ethics in the area of child labor as possible expressions of Strategic International Human Resource Management. It analyses whether 50 leading multinationals adopt universal ethical norms (related to exportive HRM) or relativist ethical norms (related to adaptive HRM and multidomestic strategies). Child labor is not an issue where universalism prevails. Although some multinationals adhere to universal ethical norms, HRM practices are largely multidomestic. To manage the ethical dilemmas, shown from case material, strategic trade-offs (concerning strategy context, process and content, and particularly organizational purpose) are outlined.

Suggested Citation

  • Kolk, Ans & Van Tulder, Rob, 2004. "Ethics in international business: multinational approaches to child labor," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 49-60, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:39:y:2004:i:1:p:49-60
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rob van Tulder & Ans Kolk, 2001. "Multinationality and Corporate Ethics: Codes of Conduct in the Sporting Goods Industry," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 32(2), pages 267-283, June.
    2. Buller, Paul F. & McEvoy, Glenn M., 1999. "Creating and sustaining ethical capability in the multi-national corporation," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 326-343, January.
    3. Catherine C Langlois & Bodo B Shlegemilch, 1990. "Do Corporate Codes of Ethics Reflect National Character? Evidence from Europe and the United States," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 21(4), pages 519-539, December.
    4. Kolk, Ans & van Tulder, Rob, 2002. "The Effectiveness of Self-regulation:: Corporate Codes of Conduct and Child Labour," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 260-271, June.
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    1. repec:eee:proeco:v:213:y:2019:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:kap:jbuset:v:143:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3131-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alan Muller & Ans Kolk, 2010. "Extrinsic and Intrinsic Drivers of Corporate Social Performance: Evidence from Foreign and Domestic Firms in Mexico," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 1-26, January.
    4. Moana S. Simas & Laura Golsteijn & Mark A. J. Huijbregts & Richard Wood & Edgar G. Hertwich, 2014. "The “Bad Labor” Footprint: Quantifying the Social Impacts of Globalization," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(11), pages 1-27, October.
    5. Lutz Preuss & Donna Brown, 2012. "Business Policies on Human Rights: An Analysis of Their Content and Prevalence Among FTSE 100 Firms," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 289-299, September.
    6. Islam, Muhammad Azizul & McPhail, Ken, 2011. "Regulating for corporate human rights abuses: The emergence of corporate reporting on the ILO's human rights standards within the global garment manufacturing and retail industry," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 22(8), pages 790-810.
    7. Gary Gereffi & Joonkoo Lee, 2016. "Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 25-38, January.
    8. Whiteman, G.M. & Muller, A.R. & van der Voort, J. & van Wijk, J.C.A.C. & Meijs, L.C.P.M. & Piqué, C., 2005. "The Tsunami’s CSR Effect: MNEs and Philanthropic Responses to the Disaster," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-062-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    9. Meyer, Klaus E. & Thein, Htwe Htwe, 2014. "Business under adverse home country institutions: The case of international sanctions against Myanmar," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 156-171.
    10. Kourula, Arno, 2010. "Corporate engagement with non-governmental organizations in different institutional contexts--A case study of a forest products company," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 395-404, October.
    11. William Flanagan & Gail Whiteman, 2007. "“AIDS is Not a Businessâ€\x9D: A Study in Global Corporate Responsibility – Securing Access to Low-cost HIV Medications," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 73(1), pages 65-75, June.
    12. Kolk, Ans, 2016. "The social responsibility of international business: From ethics and the environment to CSR and sustainable development," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 23-34.
    13. Satu Lähteenmäki & Maarit Laiho, 2011. "Global HRM and the dilemma of competing stakeholder interests," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 166-180, July.
    14. Muhammad Islam & Craig Deegan, 2010. "Media pressures and corporate disclosure of social responsibility performance information: A study of two global clothing and sports retail companies," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 131-148.
    15. Peter Lund-Thomsen & Adam Lindgreen, 2014. "Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Value Chains: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 11-22, August.
    16. Hilson, Gavin, 2008. "'A load too heavy': Critical reflections on the child labor problem in Africa's small-scale mining sector," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1233-1245, November.
    17. Muhammad Azizul Islam & Craig Deegan & Rob Gray, 2018. "Social compliance audits and multinational corporation supply chain: evidence from a study of the rituals of social audits," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 190-224, February.

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