The moral authority of transnational corporate codes

Journal of Business Ethics 10 (3):165 - 177 (1991)
Ethical guidelines for multinational corporations are included in several international accords adopted during the past four decades. These guidelines attempt to influence the practices of multinational enterprises in such areas as employment relations, consumer protection, environmental pollution, political participation, and basic human rights. Their moral authority rests upon the competing principles of national sovereignty, social equity, market integrity, and human rights. Both deontological principles and experience-based value systems undergird and justify the primacy of human rights as the fundamental moral authority of these transnational and transcultural compacts. Although difficulties and obstacles abound in gaining operational acceptance of such codes of conduct, it is possible to argue that their guidelines betoken the emergence of a transcultural corporate ethic.
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