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Values-Based Multinational Management

Achieving Enterprise Sustainability through a Human Rights Strategy

Lee A. Tavis and Timothy M. Tavis

Publication Year: 2009

In this timely book, Lee Tavis and Timothy Tavis contend that the values dimension of the actions of multinational firms is becoming increasingly important, given the worldwide integration of economies and peoples. The digital revolution has broadened the reach of globalization and created an informed society that demands higher standards of behavior from the business enterprise; at the same time, multinational corporations have gained power often comparable to that of the nation state, and global society is in need of widely accepted, enduring social and ethical standards. Tavis and Tavis argue that multinational firms must embrace an ethically pro-active stance in their own long-term interests. A strategy of supporting universal human rights, often in partnership with NGOs, offers the greatest potential for success. Values-Based Multinational Management provides an agenda for practical action, with special reference to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact. It informs and addresses the values concerns of multinational business managers. It presents its examples and analyses in a clear and concise manner and will be of use both to practitioners in the business community and students and scholars of business ethics.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Front Matter

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Since its first meeting in October 1978, I have followed with care the efforts of the Program on Multinational Managers and Developing Country Concerns through its conferences and the multi-volume series with the University of Notre Dame Press. Over the years, the core issue remains the same—the persistent desperate circumstances for so many people in our...

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pp. xi-xiv

This volume addresses the values concern of multinational managers. Always a difficult balance, the values dimension of multinational decisions is becoming more complex with the worldwide integration of economies and peoples. The digital revolution that drives the integration process known as globalization shows no sign of abating. In this broader environment, a more...

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pp. xv

Many colleagues have provided counsel and comments on parts of this manuscript: Matt Bloom (organizational behavior), John Uhran (computer engineering), LeRoy Krajewski (management information systems), George Howard (psychology), Edward Trubac (economics), Kevin Misiewicz (accountancy), Jeff Bergstrand (international economics), Hal...

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The interrelationships of our world are changing in fundamental ways. Global integration has become a reality, with sweeping economic, political, social, and cultural effects. Much of this change is caused by the digital revolution—computer technology and its impact on information systems. Power balances are shifting as multinational managers adopt technological...

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1. Global Integration: Its Driving Force and Pervasive Impact

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pp. 3-28

The process of open interaction among individuals and institutions across the world that has come to be known as globalization has changed the lives of these individuals and their institutions. The driving force of global integration is the digital revolution. With the implementation of integrated circuits, computational memory and speeds have doubled every...

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2. Responding to the Future

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pp. 29-51

Continued exponential growth in computational technology is assured, thus driving advancements in information and the ways we visualize the world around us. This chapter anticipates the future of computational technology and its information dimension, along with its globalizing effects. It assesses alternative reactions to this future in terms of adaptation...

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The digital revolution creates a challenging environment for multinational management. To date, multinational enterprises have, as a group, proven to be the most adaptable institutions of our global society. The role of business in this new, information-rich, economically integrating world is critical. There are clear signals that global society is asking...

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3. Assessing the Appropriate Role of the Enterprise

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pp. 55-100

The appropriate role of the business enterprise is framed within its economic, political, social, and cultural environment. This environment simultaneously provides economic opportunities for the firm and constrains its activities. Driven by dramatic changes associated with the digital revolution, the transformation of the business environment signals a...

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4. Partnering with Nongovernmental Organizations

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pp. 101-122

Both corporations and nongovernmental organizations must collaborate if each is to achieve its objectives in today’s information-rich, integrated world. Corporate managers are increasingly aware of the need to position their firms to serve social preferences well beyond what the basic market model requires. This awareness is reflected in burgeoning corporate...

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The pursuit of enterprise sustainability requires identifying a social standard. A wealth of social counsel is available in the writings of numerous religious traditions over the centuries. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are broadly known. Less recognized and available (at least in the Western context) are the nontheistic social teachings...

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5. The Nature of Human Rights

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pp. 125-139

Contemporary views of human rights have deep roots in the philosophy of natural law and liberal rights theory. Catholic tradition has been intimately involved with both: as an integral component of natural law philosophy over the centuries, and as a tradition at odds with liberal philosophy, including the liberal theory of human rights. In all of these, there...

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6. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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pp. 140-154

The problem of divergent or even conflicting human rights values came into focus with the initial discussions for the United Nations in 1945 in reaction to the brutality of World War II. Still, amid the political posturing as the war approached its conclusion, human rights issues surfaced only sporadically in the initial deliberations.1 In an early draft proposal...

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Against the general theological, moral, social, and political background of human rights, as discussed in Part III, we turn to their implementation in the enterprise: developing and carrying out a plan of action. A social standard for the multinational firm, we have argued, is an essential starting point for a strategy of long-term sustainability and, for that matter...

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7. The United Nations Global Compact

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pp. 157-175

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) initiative evolved from a challenge posed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the business community at the Davos World Economic Forum in January 1999. “I call on you—individually through your firms, and collectively through your business associations—to embrace, support, and enact a set of core values in...

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8. Implementing the Global Compact at Novartis

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pp. 176-213

The Novartis experience is reported in two main parts. The first part describes the initial implementation of the Global Compact principles, shortly after the company signed the Compact in 2000.1 The second part reports the Novartis experience eight years later and assesses the successes and remaining challenges. The first part is based on extended interviews...

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This part of the volume completes the argument outlined in the preface by focusing on the relationship between the enterprise and the individual. It is a generalization of the implementation of human rights strategy as described in the case study of Novartis. It addresses the fundamental question of leadership: How does the enterprise serve its role in society while...

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9. The Individual in the Organization

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pp. 217-229

Psychological theory makes this distinction in terms of the individual drive for “more,” as opposed to our social embeddedness. This same distinction can be seen in religious traditions as they have developed over the centuries. Economists struggle with this distinction, as reflected in chapter 3. Adam Smith’s concept of the invisible hand regulating the economy...

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10. The Person and the Enterprise: Management Models

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pp. 230-256

Two approaches to dealing with the tension between the person and the organization are the proceduralist and the communitarian models. Both are of interest to the multinational manager who is faced with cross-cultural issues on a network-wide basis and must discern appropriate actions within local communities...

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pp. 257-259

This volume has addressed three questions: How has society changed its views on what it wants from the business enterprise and why? How does business, particularly the multinational enterprise, strategically position itself to meet these new demands? How, then, does the enterprise implement...


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pp. 261-297


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pp. 299-330


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pp. 331-347

E-ISBN-13: 9780268093730
E-ISBN-10: 0268093733
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268042349
Print-ISBN-10: 0268042349

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • International business enterprises -- Social aspects.
  • Globalization -- Economic aspects.
  • Human rights.
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