Legal Studies and Business Ethics Papers

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

2004

Publication Source

The INSEAD-Wharton Alliance on Globalizing: Strategies for Building Successful Global Businesses

Start Page

331

Last Page

352

DOI

10.1017/CBO9780511522093.015

Abstract

Multinational companies must participate in the life of multiple countries, with different cultures and expectations for their citizens. At the same time, these companies are facing new demands to address global issues such as environmental concerns and poverty. In this context, what does it mean to be a “corporate citizen”? The author examines the emergence of the concept of corporate responsibility and citizenship, including the long-standing debate about whether a company owes its allegiance primarily to shareholders or to a broad community of stakeholders. He then considers what these concepts mean in a global context. While citizenship in a single nation has typically been defined by geography or ethnicity, global citizenship is a much more uncertain concept. The author discusses some of the challenges that face business in meeting conflicting national demands for citizenship, such as the troubles faced by Yahoo! when US users of its online auctions offered Nazi memorabilia on its website, accessible in France. The sale was protected under US First Amendment rights but banned under French law. The author also discusses the emerging concept of “cosmopolitan” or “global” citizenship. It is clear that companies must address global concerns, but each individual company must determine how to define global citizenship for itself and how to balance this identity with responsibilities that it may have to various local, national, and regional communities.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This material has been published in The INSEAD-Wharton Alliance on Globalizing edited by Gatignon, H., Kimberly, J.R., & Gunther, R.E. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.

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Date Posted: 20 June 2018