Edited by John R. McIntyre, Silvester Ivanaj and Vera Ivanaj
Chapter 10: Assessing the Sustainable Development Commitment of European MNEs
Silvester Ivanaj, Jacky Koehl, Sandrine Peney and E. Günter Schumacher 1. INTRODUCTION It is quite common in the fields of sociology and cultural anthropology to describe and analyze what is considered as ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’ by social groups or societies, and what concrete consequences morals imply in different cultures. Researchers in ethics, however, normally prefer to integrate a normative element in their arguments. This can be done via the substantiation of norms and values (‘moral philosophy’) or by applying selected1 norms/values to a certain field (‘applied philosophy’, ‘applied ethics’). As a result, we find explicit value judgments linked to the scientific analysis, satisfying the demand of many people in these fields for rationally based advice for ‘right behavior’. All the same, we can sometimes observe in the field of ethics researchers who work without integrating a normative perspective and without establishing value judgments. Proceeding like the above-mentioned sociologists or cultural anthropologists, these researchers nevertheless feel linked to the discipline of ethics. Such an approach of ethics can be designated as ‘descriptive ethics’. This designation is not very common in Anglophone cultures nor in Francophone countries, but it is well established in the German-speaking academic world (Rich, 1984; Stückelberger, 2002). It is from this point of view of a ‘descriptive ethics’ that we tried to look at the commitment of multinational enterprises (MNEs) to sustainable development. The choice of this ethical perspective offers two advantages. On the one hand, it offers the possibility of analyzing the question of commitment...
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