In this debate, we explore whether ethical values are culturally relative, and how it might be possible to maintain one’s own ethical values while respecting
those of other communities in cases where they might conflict.
This image is currently unavailable Directions
The opening statement and rebuttal have different due dates.
This image is currently unavailableDebate Topic:
In the words of Thomas Donaldson, are there “fundamental values that cross cultures” (p. 347)? If so, what are they, and what is your evidence for the claim
that they are really universal? If not, where does this leave us when we encounter people from different countries, societies, nations, cultures, or communities
who do not share our values?
Please read the debate guidelines (Links to an external site.).
Read the tips for debate:
Wilson, J. (2016, August 22). Debate tips: A few tips for those daily arguments you get into (Links to an external site.).
National Speech and Debate Association. (n.d.). Debate training guide. (Links to an external site.)
Respond to the debate prompt. Explain your position on the question posed and justify your stance by providing reasons and evidence in the clearest terms
possible. Please add “Opening Statement” in the first line of the post.
Please respond to at least one classmate’s opening statement. Explain and justify your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with their position and the
reasons for it they gave.
Please post your opening statement and rebuttal by clicking the Reply button below. The rebuttals should be posted as replies to other students’ opening
Module 9 International Business & Global Ethics
This module explores the perennial philosophical question: to what extent are sound ethical values humanly universal as opposed to culturally relative?
Reflecting on this question leads us to wonder whether, and if so, to what extent, it is ethically appropriate or even required to adapt our behavior to the
standards and practices that are customary in a particular culture. These questions arise when companies do business in societies with cultures that differ
from their own. As does the question of how one can respect another culture’s values without betraying one’s own ethical values.
Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
Study and assess ethical principles for distinguishing between cultural practices that are merely different from those that are wrong.
Debate the potential obligation of transnational companies to protect human rights in foreign countries.
Evaluate the ethics of corporate complicity in human rights violations via discussion of case studies.
This module focuses on the following major topics:
Difficulties around ethical imperialism and cultural relativism
The possible complicity in human rights violations of countries operating in foreign countries
An historical case study to illustrate themes explored in this module
Summary of Module Learning Activities
This section outlines the activities that you will complete in this module. It is recommended that you complete the readings in the module prior to submitting
All readings below that are listed with page numbers are in our Ciulla et al. readerAll readings below that are listed with page numbers are in our Ciulla et al. reader.
Thomas Donaldson, “Values in Tension: Ethics Away from Home,” p. 346
Box, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” p. 357
Florian Wettstein, “Silence and Complicity: Elements of a Corporate Duty to Speak Out Against the Violation of Human Rights,” p. 358
Box, “A Defense of Sweatshops,” p. 367
Case 10.4: “IBM’s Business with Hitler: An Inconvenient Past,” p. 376
ntroduction to Our Guest and Interview Questions
I’m sure the rest of the class would like to join me in welcoming Dr. Marcelline Babicz. Dr. Babicz specializes in organizational change efforts with a special
focus on cross-cultural challenges. Dr. Babicz, we’re very happy to have the benefit of your perspective as we try to think through some tricky issues around
international business and global ethics, which are the topics of this module, Module 9.
In a way, this module is concerned with one a perennial philosophical question: namely, to what extent are the right ethical values humanly universal as
opposed to culturally relative? Reflecting on this question leads us to wonder whether, and if so, to what extent, it’s ethically appropriate or even required to
adapt our behavior to the standards and practices that are customary in a given culture. As we saw in this module’s assigned readings, such questions arise
when companies do business in societies with cultures that differ from their own. Another difficulty that arises here is the issue of whether and how one can
respect another culture’s values without betraying one’s own ethical values.
Before we launch into the module, Dr. Babicz, I’d like to give you an opportunity to tell us a little more about yourself – your background, your current research
interests, and whatever else you’d like to share.
Dr. Babicz, you’ve done some really interesting work on cross-cultural encounters between folks in business settings. Lots of the issues we’re exploring in
this module crop up in situations where there’s a culture clash between organizations or within organizations where different people are coming together
from diverse backgrounds or perspectives. Can you help walk us through some of the problems and issues that arise here?
One ethically challenging issue explored in the materials for this module is corporate complicity in human rights violations. This might occur, for instance, in
a foreign country where an American company runs some of its operations. An example discussed at some length by Florian Wettstein in his article called
“Silence as Complicity” involved the Shell corporation’s direct and indirect contributions to environmental abuses and the military government’s brutal
oppression of minorities in Niger in the mid-1990s. The author argues that Shell’s role in the situation as an influential beneficiary of these abuses made it a
culpable bystander with an unfulfilled duty to prevent these harms. One question this case leaves us with is what ethical (not to be confused with legal)
responsibility, if any, powerful corporations have to not be complicit bystanders in significant harms to the communities where they operate. Do you have any
thoughts about how we should start thinking about this issue?