Inverting Donaldson’s Framework: A Managerial Approach To International Conflicts Of Cultural And Economic Norms

Business Ethics Quarterly 25 (4):535-558 (2015)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT:Thomas Donaldson’s framework for dealing with value-conflicts between a manager’s home and host country distinguishes between a “conflict of relative [economic] development”—conflicting norms that arise because home and host are at two different stages of economic development—and a “conflict of culture,” which arises because the home and host’s different cultures generate conflicting norms on the issue the manager faces. My question here is a thought experiment. What different insights might emerge if we flipped Donaldson’s framework around? Specifically: What if we viewed the kinds of conflicts that fall under Donaldson’s “conflicts of culture” as arising not because the home and host exhibit a “fundamental” conflict in cultural norms, but because they are at two different stages ofculturaldevelopment? And what if we viewed “conflicts of relative economic development” as conflicts that occur not because home and host are at two different stages of economic development but, simply, because their economies contemporaneously interact with each other in ways that generate normative conflict: call them “conflicts of economy”?

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