, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 1-9

The Social Responsibilities of International Business Firms in Developing Areas

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Three principles must be taken into account in assessing the social responsibilities of international business firms in developing areas. The first is an awareness of the historical and institutional dynamics of local communities. This influences the type and range of responsibilities the firm can be expected to assume; it also reveals the limitations of any universal codes of conduct. The second is the necessity of non-intimidating communication with local constituencies. This requires the firm to temper its power and influence by recognizing and responding to local concerns in the pursuit of its own objectives. The third is the degree to which the firm’s operations safeguard and indeed improve the social and economic assets of local communities. At issue is the question of adequate compensation for the inevitable disruptions that an international business brings to a local community. Beneficial returns must be shared and sustained over the long term in an equitable manner. The nine studies in this special edition illustrate in different ways the importance of these three principles.

Joseph Smucker is Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal. His research publications are in the areas of industrialization, labor markets, labor market policies, and models of economic development.
Frederick Bird holds a Research Chair in Comparative Ethics at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of The Muted Conscience: Moral Silence and the Practice of Ethics in Business (1996), and has co-edited three volumes of essays on international business ethics: International Businesses and the Challenges of Poverty in the Developing World (2004), International Business and the Dilemmas of Development (2005), and Just Business Practices in a Diverse and Developing World 2006).