Multi-National Enterprises’ (MNEs’) Ethical Dilemma: The Case of Honduran Sweatshops

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Service Marketing/ Non-Profit Marketing/ Ethics

Publication Date



This paper considers the ethical dilemma of multinational enterprises’ (MNEs’) application of ethics in different cultures and emerging economies by reviewing the ethical practices of firms in the textile, clothing, and footwear (TCF) industry in Honduras. This dilemma is a basic conflict in perspective between the teleological perspectives of egoism, relativism, and utilitarianism and the deontological perspectives of Kantianism, care ethics, and justice theory (Hindman & Smith, 1999; Brown, 2001). After considering the pertinence of each of these six theories of ethical conduct, the conclusion is that the basic conflict between these teleological and deontological models of ethics can only be resolved with regards to sweatshops if and when MNEs: 1) avoid trying to categorically apply western ethics to foreign operations through policy; 2) avoid waiting or relying upon consensual global ethics as a solution, and develop their own customized ethics for foreign enterprises; 3) methodically and actively delineate Kantian musts from wants; 4) formally and actively include their ethical partners and shareholders in this process; and 5) are willing and committed to withdraw or cease economic operations or contracts upon violation of determined deontological musts.

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