Multinational corporations and the social contract

Journal of Business Ethics 31 (3):245 - 258 (2001)

Eric Palmer
Allegheny College
The constitutions of many nations have been explicitly or implicitly founded upon principles of the social contract derived from Thomas Hobbes. The Hobbesian egoism at the base of the contract fairly accurately represents the structure of market enterprise. A contractarian analysis may, then, allow for justified or rationally acceptable universal standards to which businesses should conform. This paper proposes general rational restrictions upon multi-national enterprises, and includes a critique of unjustified restrictions recently proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). I propose restrictions that may be tighter than the OECD and international law currently demand, because reason requires that the activities of enterprises accord with standards of environmental and governmental sustainability in addition to consortium, national law and international law agreements. I argue that it is justifiable that indictments may be presented by a citizen or a government against the local arm of a multinational enterprise in response to violations committed by an arm within a different country.
Keywords social contract  multinational corporations  artificial persons
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Social Contract for International Business Ethics.Paul Neiman - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 114 (1):75-90.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.Claes Hägg - 1984 - Journal of Business Ethics 3 (1):71 - 76.
Exporting Mental Models.Patricia H. Werhane - 2000 - Business Ethics Quarterly 10 (1):353-362.
Social Contracts and Corporations: A Reply to Hodapp. [REVIEW]Thomas Donaldson - 1990 - Journal of Business Ethics 9 (2):133 - 137.
Can There Be a Social Contract with Business?Paul F. Hodapp - 1990 - Journal of Business Ethics 9 (2):127 - 131.


Added to PP index

Total views
298 ( #16,445 of 2,319,737 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #28,868 of 2,319,737 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature