Theory application and Argument Construction
James E. Post’s theory of global corporate citizenship states that businesses should adopt global corporate citizenship as opposed to simply being global businesses. He says that global business maximizes on value while global corporate citizenship maximizes on values. Global corporate citizenship connects people with problems with organizations that provide adequate solutions to these problems. The organization should combine its public and private affairs in order to ensure that the welfare of the entire society is taken care of. This theory draws from the studies of Boyt and Harry about public life, which divides the public into three categories; it is a group of people acting together, secondly it is an open, visible and accessible space and thirdly it is a generalization of matters of general importance. Corporate citizenship entails caring for one’s environment and the world in general. Adam Smith, a major contributor to the study of economics, advanced the “theory” that a business cannot function just by serving its own interests, it has to take care of the public’s interests as well. The theory goes on to state that educators should instill in their students the culture of fusing public and private work in the organizations where they will work in future, if this is done, then the practice will be passed on to other generations, leading to the creation of a better world. Adam Smith states that the society should construct public institutions and public works whose benefits are far-reaching and the expenses accrued cannot be substantiated by profits.
Two models emulate public works. In the first model, the corporation is at the centre and is surrounded by primary and secondary stakeholders. This model shows that the community acts in its won interests first. In the second model, the community is at the centre and the organization acts as one of the primary and secondary stakeholders surrounding the community. Here, the company acts in the interests of the community; it realizes that public and private works are mutually exclusive. Companies that adopt the second model demonstrate values such as accountability, reciprocity, civic dignity and responsibility. It is important for a company to realize the consequences of its actions to the general society. If any part of the society is suffering because of the organization, then it needs to adopt a more community-centered approach. The organization’s overall goal should be to ensure a free, sustainable and equitable community. Conducting business transactions not only affects the economy but the society as a whole as well. Therefore, businesses should at all times act in a manner that preserves the public good.
Internet censorship in China is done through the screening of websites that are visited and blocking certain sites such as pornography websites, sites discussing certain religious issues such as the Dalai Lama and blog sites that contain opinions on controversial matters. These censorship activities by the Chinese government have been termed as a violation to the freedom of information and expression. In recent years, there has been widespread criticism and opposition to this practice by many Chinese who view the censorship as unjust and irrational. Unfortunately, there are still many international organizations that perpetuate internet censorship through supplying the Chinese government with software and other technology that is used to control the internet. These companies include; Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems and Websense. Having trade and investment relations with China is highly lucrative due to its fast growing economy and technology advancement. These companies have therefore fallen into the snare of seeking profitability first instead of ensuring that the welfare of the society is not compromised. By providing the Chinese government with software that will enhance censorship, these companies have directly facilitated the violation of human rights. These companies were however reluctant to take any responsibility for the part they played in this. Microsoft Inc. for example was quoted as saying that their business is to develop and sell technology and not to determine how it will be used. This is a clear illustration that business affects the society as a whole, therefore, companies must act in a manner that upholds civic dignity.
In today’s business environment, ethics and business practices are intertwined. The company has to take into account the consequences of its actions and decisions, and should have principles that guide them as to what is right or wrong. Ethical business practices are those that are fair and beneficial to all the business stakeholders. In the Niger Delta, exploitation of oil reserves is a major revenue earner for the Nigerian government and Shell. Yet, despite the fact that the Niger River Delta produces oil worth hundred of millions of dollars on a daily basis, the area is inhabited by some of the world’s poorest communities. There is an inadequacy of social facilities such as hospitals and schools. The area has also been contaminated by frequent oil spills. Inhabitants of the area, the Ogonis, have been championing for the government and Shell Ltd. to help in the construction of infrastructure and social facilities since the 1980s. However, their pleas for help have been met with indifference and even violence by the government. The rights of the community have been massively violated. For instance, the Ogonis have been prohibited from demonstrating and over the years, 1000 Ogonis have been killed during the process of law enforcement by the military. Shell’s failure to address the issues of the community has not averted the problem but led to more resistance and formation of rebel groups. Shell has violated the Ogonis’ human rights further by hiring Nigerian military to keep the situation under control. Shell’s lack of business ethics is evident from the manner in which it denies responsibility for the poor state of the Ogoni’s welfare. They claim that since they pay taxes, it is the duty of the government to look into the welfare of the Ogonis. This shows that it is a global business and not a global corporate citizen. It is simply after maximizing its profits. Shell has also refused to take responsibility for the pollution of the Niger Delta surroundings. Therefore, it is raking in billions of dollars annually at the expense of the defenseless Ogonis. They live in poverty and misery despite the fact that they live in an area that generates billions to the economy. This is therefore an example of how the society is affected negatively when a company pursues its own interests solely and neglects the community.