Ethics & Social Responsibility in International Business

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  • 0:01 The Global Market
  • 0:48 Uniform Standards
  • 1:55 Globalization
  • 2:51 Cultural Imperialism
  • 3:45 Outsourcing
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

As the world becomes more and more connected, there are still serious social and ethical problems that need to be worked out in the business world. This lesson identifies some of those problems.

The Global Market

In only a few decades, the global marketplace has gone from being unimaginably distant to unbelievably compact. I'm writing this lesson on a computer that was designed 3,000 miles away and built 12,000 miles away, yet was purchased less than an hour from my house, and I'm sitting at a desk that was designed and constructed 7,000 miles in the opposite direction! In short, we're all growing extremely well connected. However, there have been some real issues that have emerged as a result of this greater connectedness. In this lesson, we're going to take a look at a number of those issues, especially the need for uniform standards, the impact of globalization, the perils of cultural imperialism, and the controversies over outsourcing.

Uniform Standards

Perhaps the most obvious way that disagreements over standards on a global scale is apparent is when you think that the United States still uses the imperial system while the rest of the world almost exclusively uses the metric system. Now, many of us are comfortable with liters, but not too many of us can quickly convert cups of flour to grams of flour for a recipe. However, if measurements were the only way that uniform standards are not being met, the world market wouldn't have nearly so much of a problem.

Instead, what is largely meant by uniform standards is the need for uniform quality standards, or the idea that goods and services will be of comparable quality no matter where they originated. Obviously, there are going to be some differences - mozzarella from Italy will tend to taste better than mozzarella from Siberia, for example. However, especially in more technical trades, this is a real concern. A steel beam must meet certain uniform expectations no matter where it was produced. The ability to set and meet those criteria is a real concern.


If you've ever been to the pyramids in Egypt, you're about to immediately recognize one of the next social and ethical problems with this increased interconnectedness. If you are standing at the main gate into the pyramids and look around you, you'll see the pyramids, the Sphinx, and a number of fast-food places. Yes, there is a well-known fried chicken operation literally in the pyramid's shadow. This is a great example of the effects of globalization, when communities and markets from around the world are interconnected even on the most local levels. The ethical questions that arise from this are pretty clear. One would think that by enjoying the culture of Egypt that you should, perhaps, eat Egyptian food. However, the market seems to insist that you have deep fried chicken tenders instead. In any event, businesses should be eager to enter new markets, but do so with respect to existing cultural treasures.

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