Global Business Citizenship and Voluntary Codes of Ethical Conduct

Journal of Business Ethics 59 (1-2):55-67 (2005)
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This article describes the theory and process of global business citizenship (GBC) and applies it in an analysis of characteristics of company codes of business conduct. GBC is distinguished from a commonly used term, “corporate citizenship,” which often denotes corporate community involvement and philanthropy. The GBC process requires (1) a set of fundamental values embedded in the corporate code of conduct and in corporate policies that reflect universal ethical standards; (2) implementation throughout the organization with thoughtful awareness of where the code and policies fit well and where they might not fit with stakeholder expectations; (3) analysis and experimentation to deal with problem cases; and (4) systematic learning processes to communicate the results of implementation and experiments internally and externally. We then identify and illustrate the three attributes of a code of conduct that would reflect a GBC approach. The three attributes are orientation, implementation, and accountability. The various components of these attributes are specified and illustrated, using website examples from six global petroleum companies.



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