Ethical Concerns: Multinationals and Sustainability – Part 3
Welcome to this session of the International Socio-Economic Context Course. This class finishes the review of the Ethical Concerns and Sustainability Chapter that aims for a review of the increasing interest of different business world stakeholders, related to both topics.
In this session, the identification of opportunities that MNCs face as a result of growing environmental concerns will be presented. This is important because the response of enterprises constitutes the way they evidentiate their commitment with the ecological concerns.
So, by the end of this class you will be able to recognise the actions and challenges of MNCs in their pursuit of improving the climate conditions of the environment in which they operate and to what they belong to.
As Ajami. & Goddard J. (2015) state, while the environmental challenges facing MNCs are daunting, a number of opportunities have also arisen. Many MNCs have been quick to anticipate the trends in the world’s regulatory, economic, political, and social environments and have been positioned to derive the maximum advantage from them.
New Consumer Products
As the world grows more environmentally conscious, there is an increasing need for en- vironmentally safe products. This demand points to the opening of new markets, first in developed and later in developing countries. Environmentally safe products have already made their appearance in many countries and embrace a wide range, from personal goods to consumer durables. Whole Foods Market is an upper-end grocery store that special- izes in selling natural and organically grown food products. The company, which started in Austin, Texas, in 1980, now has more than 300 store locations throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and it proudly displays on its website that it has been ranked in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For since 1998. Besides selling products free of preservatives, additives, and colorings, Whole Foods Market has also gone to great lengths to reduce the amount of energy consumption in its store locations, to promote recycling of paper, glass, and plastic, and to collect reusable items, such as batteries, light bulbs, and computer equipment, for recycling. As mentioned on the company’s website, numerous store locations have utilized solar power for almost one-quarter of the store’s energy needs.
Firms specializing in technology development are already receiving large orders for new, environmentally safe technologies in a wide range of industries. Environmental-control technologies are in particular demand. Cleaner and more efficient furnaces and technolo- gies that treat toxic emissions and effluents are all in greater demand. Since 2000, automobile manufacturers have been selling hybrid automobiles, which run on a combination of gasoline and a rechargeable battery, a trend likely to continue given these vehicles’ fuel efficiency. Lest we forget the green paradox, announced governmental policies promoting alternative sources of energy (often via new technologies) lead to increased consumption of current sources (and technologies) in the present.
New Industrial Products
Today’s plants require a large number of mechanical modifications to meet environmental standards. Water-treatment plants, emission-control filters, waste-management systems, and the like represent new markets and opportunities that are going to expand across the world.
A number of products that are in wide use but considered dangerous to the environment are likely to be phased out and replaced. Certain types of plastic products that were found to be resistant to biodegradation, for example, have been replaced with other polyure- thane foam products, which either are biodegradable or can be recycled. In the words of comedian George Carlin, the plastic that mankind has created may be our true purpose on this planet, as without man there would be no plastics deposited in the ground.
New Energy Sources
A number of companies are intensively researching the development of new sources of energy for the future as well as new devices and products that run on such sources of energy. One of the most important of these new energy sources is solar power, which is clean, environmentally safe, and virtually unlimited. Working models of solar-powered automobiles have been developed and other solar-powered products have been in use for several years. As mentioned above, environmentally conscious companies such as Whole Foods Market use solar power in their stores in an attempt to save money while utilizing a clean source of energy. Additionally, oil giant Shell has embraced the concept of the hydrogen fuel cell enough to open a hydrogen station in Iceland.
Corporations specializing in environmental technology, design, and management and similar areas are already flooded with contracts and offers to develop environmental safety programs in several different countries. This area is likely to grow rapidly as industrial concerns, local and national governments, and communities attempt to upgrade the envi- ronmental quality of industries, neighborhoods, and other aspects of everyday activities. The growing support from the developed countries for such concerns has enabled the collection of substantial funds from various charitable and other foundations to be used to finance such services across a broad spectrum of countries
The Environmental at Center Stage
The environmental issue has clearly moved from the periphery of MNC concerns to center stage. The environment now has to be factored into almost every decision, and top management can no longer simply delegate the responsibilities in this area. It is an issue for the headquarters of every MNC to consider when planning global and local strategies, whatever the internal organization structure of the business. MNCs that take an enlightened approach to this issue are quick to capitalize on opportunities while managing risks effectively and are likely to end up the winners.
Unlike other forms of corporate activity, however, it is not enough if one corporation wins and another loses. Everyone must win if Earth’s fragile and currently endangered environment is to be nurtured and sustained.
In this session, a review of the major environmental concerns affecting the global community was presented and also, the implications particularly for MNCs.
Also, the emerging actions derived from environmental concerns were introduced. The main focus of this session was the recognition of some of the main environmental aspects of MNCs as a way to promote the conservation of balance on Earth, their resources and Life.
Ajami R., & Goddard J. G. (2015). International Business: Theory and Practice. Routledge (328-332).
Kortasová, I. (October 9th, 2018). These companies are leading the fight against climate change. CNN Business. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/09/business/climate-change-companies/index.html