Ethics for International Business: Decision Making in a Global Political Economy

Ethics for International Business: Decision Making in a Global Political Economy

Ethics for International Business: Decision Making in a Global Political Economy

Ethics for International Business: Decision Making in a Global Political Economy


Business takes place in an increasingly global environment, crossing political and cultural boundaries that challenge corporate values. The central focus of this successful and innovative text lies in how to make and explain 'best choice' judgments when confronting ethical dilemmas in international business situations.

The newly-updated version of this groundbreaking textbook continues to provide a topical and relevant analysis of the ethical dimensions of conducting business in a global political economy. From a starting point of applied ethics, the book introduces a common set of normative terms and analytical tools for examining and discussing real case scenarios.

Extensive real-world examples, presented in the form of exhibits, cover issues including:

  • foreign production, including sweatshops
  • export of hazardous products
  • testing and pricing of HIV-AIDS drugs
  • advertising tobacco, alcoholic beverages and infant formula
  • deceptive marketing techniques and bribery
  • religious and social discrimination
  • cultural impacts from 'music, movies and malls'
  • environmental issues, including oil spills, rain forest preservation, global warming and genetically modified foods
  • fair trade certification and consumer boycotts
  • oil investments in the Sudan, Burma and Nigeria.

To keep pace with the changing landscape of global business, this new edition features:

  • updated exhibits that introduce new issues, including internet censorship and privacy, marketing and obesity, dumping electronic waste in Ghana, the costs of bottled water, and Wal-Mart's supplier code in China
  • increased coverage of issues arising in emerging markets
  • updated descriptions and assessments of relevant international agreements
  • seventeen new photographs that were chosen to accompany cases designed for classroom discussion
  • "framing questions" to guide discussion of issues in topical chapters
  • three additional figures that help depict the ethical analysis process.

The continued globalization of business increases the relevance of this textbook and its unique focus on specifically international ethical challenges faced by business, where governments and civil society groups play an active role. While most business ethics texts continue to focus heavily on ethical theory, this textbook condenses ethical theory into applied decision-making concepts, emphasizing practical applications to real world dilemmas.
Anyone with an interest in the ethical implications of international business, or the business implications of corporate responsibility in the global market, will find this book a thought-provoking yet balanced analysis. Clearly written, this has become the textbook of choice in this increasingly important field.


The first edition of this book focused on ethical dilemmas confronting international business, using news article exhibits to illustrate issues and stimulate discussion regarding the responsibilities of corporations, governments and civil society. Given a favorable reception, these elements are retained in this second edition that features numerous new issues, over a dozen more recent article exhibits, and updated information on international standards and agreements. Responding to suggestions, several pedagogical elements are added, including photographs, more figures, and suggested “framing questions” to guide discussions in Chapters 4–9. The main objective remains the same. The textbook seeks to encourage the development of a personal value framework that can help guide decisions on international business issues while simultaneously exploring the evolution of global agreement on core value principles.

Scandals periodically erupt in the media that focus renewed attention on business ethics. However, these incidents seldom reflect difficult ethical dilemmas. Whatever the technical arguments about legal culpability, most reported business scandals represent actions the perpetrators surely knew were improper but decided to take anyway, either rationalizing their decisions or simply expecting not to get caught. Preventing or punishing such misdeeds falls to corporate governance and management, or civil and criminal law. The real task for business ethics is to assist individuals with more common but also more difficult “best choice” judgments, where good moral arguments can be marshaled to support alternative courses of action. These types of ethical dilemmas are especially frequent for international companies doing business in complex cross-cultural environments.

Ethics involves a reasoned search for the value framework that should be used to judge and guide action. Formal theory provides valuable intellectual insights that enrich and elucidate this task. However, the opaqueness of theoretical formulas can also lead people to associate ethics with abstractions too idealistic to apply in everyday life. This gap in perception must be bridged through an approach to applied . . .

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