Society’s general conception of the fundamental marketplace has dramatically changed within recent years. Throughout most of history, commerce has existed primarily (and, at times, solely) in the domestic realm, only on rare occasions interacting on an international level.
However, with major technological advances occurring within the past century (and even more so, during the past decade) concerning both transportation (air travel, better seafaring and larger ships) and communication (telephones, the Internet), almost all business conducted by a mediocre to major firm operating from within a semi-industrialized to industrialized nation can be (and most often is) considered multinational. With the everyday business arena now expanded to include a variety of cultural and moral norms which are dependent upon their respective nations (and their intrinsic ideologies), corporations are currently forced to deal with an important issue; how should they conduct their affairs in foreign markets (When in Rome, should they do as the Romans do?) (ETB 514)? Broadly speaking, there are two paths which may be taken: either a company can (a) adhere to both the universal and domestic moral modes of business which they would regularly apply in their affairs at “home” or (b) they can conform to the ethics and morals of the host country (the country in which they are conducting the business). In this essay I will seek to provide two arguments, one which concentrates on supporting path “a” and another which refutes “a” and supports “b”. In Defense of Retaining Domestic Practices in Foreign MarketsAs American modes of ethical business standards continue to evolve and become increasingly better, it becomes more and more obvious that it should be regarded as the model for all markets, foreign and domestic. Despite criticism from other nations, our multinational business policies should reflect what we hold true in our affairs at home. Two maxims of American ideology rebuke the opinion of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
“First, no one, including businesses, should morally be permitted to “freeload” (simply put, “freeloading” is the practice of accepting advantages offered by a certain situation while not accepting its disadvantages) (EDB 531). When placed in a situation where “freeloading” is a viable option, many businesses are eager to take advantage of it due to its profitability (most often this is in the case of bribery). There is something essentially wrong with this practice in our society, however. Most modern societies function on a system of benefits and burdens. Each member of society is expected to accept both the benefits and the burdens adherent to their situation and actions.
For example, when you steal money you are attempting to acquire a benefit without the adjunct burden (earning it). When such a person is caught doing such, they are almost certainly prosecuted and made to accept the burden (usually in the form of jail time or fines). When a business receives a bribe or a kickback, they are essentially accepting a benefit of the laws against those practices while not suffering the burdens associated with those laws (EDB 531). The second idea which American morality supposes is that of inalienable human rights. Presently, it can be assumed that there is (in most cases) international standards of human rights as designated by the signatories of the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights and by various treaties addressing the issue (EBD 516).
Unfortunately, often times, the differing business and social standards in foreign markets/countries allow for firms to take advantage of that country’s populace in ways which are not available (or even legal) in our society. While companies certainly should not be required to provide aid for the people of the countries they are dealing with, they should be aware of the people in these nations that they are affecting by means of their business within those borders. A clear example of the all-to-common disregard for the welfare of those of foreign countries is that of the Nestl corporation and its profit maximizing techniques in third world nations. Because of declining sales of infant formula in industrialized countries, Nestl (and other corporations) made a decision to aggressively market its product in developing nations and thus open up new arenas in which to become profitable once again. Despite .