Journal of Business Ethics 122 (2):225-240 (2014)

The United Nations Global Compact is one of the largest transnational governance schemes. Its success or failure, however, is a matter of debate. Drawing on research in cognitive linguistics, we argue that when evaluators discuss the UNGC, they apply the metaphorical concept of the family: the UNGC corresponds to the “family,” the UNGC headquarter to the “parent” and the business participants of the UNGC to the “children” of the family. As a corollary, evaluators’ implicit understanding of how a family is best organized sets different benchmarks against which the governance structure of the UNGC is assessed. We describe two ideal models of “educating” UNGC business participants. Critics of the UNGC adopt a “strict father” model of transnational governance based on the idea that the proper education of inherently “bad” business firms necessitates obedience, discipline and punishment in case firms are non-compliant. In contrast, the UNGC’s advocates follow a “nurturant parent” model, which prioritizes empathy, learning and nurturance to support the moral development of “good” business firms. We develop the “UNGC-as-family” metaphor, explore its implications for transnational governance and discuss under what conditions these idealized models can serve as appropriate guidelines for TGSs. Specifically, we posit that following the behavioral prescriptions of the “strict father” model may, under certain conditions, jeopardize the organizational embedding and institutionalization of UNGC principles, and explain when and why it may be in the best interest of the UNGC and civil society to embrace the instructions of the “nurturant parent” model of transnational governance.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-014-2218-4
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Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff & Mark Johnson - 1980 - University of Chicago Press.
Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action.David M. Rasmussen - 1993 - Philosophical Quarterly 43 (173):571.

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