Chapter | The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics | 2014

Corporate Social Responsibility and Multinational Corporations

by Nien-he Hsieh and Florian Wettstein


A central question that arises from the perspective of global ethics is what standards ought to apply to the activities of multinational corporations (MNCs). This chapter surveys the contemporary theoretical literature on this question. The first section provides background on MNCs and their rise. Section two summarizes attempts to promulgate global standards for MNCs in relation to human rights, labour, bribery, and the natural environment. Section three surveys the literature on the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR)—those corporate activities and policies that are not legally mandated and are framed in terms of the corporation's impact on society. The remaining sections consider the ethical dimensions of the question. Section four introduces the debate surrounding the universality of moral standards in the context of business activity. Section five describes attempts to specify standards for MNCs that involve taking a position on two key debates in the broader literature: the debate over the purpose of the for-profit business corporation and debate about the moral agency of corporations. The sixth section of the chapter summarizes accounts that aim to specify standards for MNCs without having to take a position on the purpose of the corporation or the moral agency of corporations.

Keywords: multinational corporation; corporate social responsibility and impact; Multinational Firms and Management; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Standards;


Hsieh, Nien-he, and Florian Wettstein. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Multinational Corporations." Chap. 19 in The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics, edited by Darrel Moellendorf and Heather Widdows, 251–266. London: Routledge, 2014.