Transnational corporations, CSR and the course of Maersk Roskilde University Corporate Social Responsibility & Business Ethics Autumn 2011 Anders Buch Nielsen 1 Table of content ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION PROBLEM AREA PROBLEM FORMULATION METHODOLOGY DELIMITATIONS THEORETICAL PART A. P. MOELLER MAERSK GROUP CASES AGAINST MAERSK CONCLUSION REFERENCES 3 4 5 5 5 6 7 10 11 15 17 2 Abstract Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become the new buzzword and a key differentiator which companies can no longer ignore.
CSR is about companies being able to take up role of corporate citizens and ensuring that business values and behaviors are positioned in such a manner that they create a perfect balance between improving and developing the wealth of businesses, while simultaneously bringing a positive change in society.
This paper examines the evolving self-regulatory and politically engaged role of multinational corporations in the global governance vacuum, drawing in particular from the article presented by Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann.
It also discusses the conditions of democracy and legitimacy that are needed for a global governance framework for corporate social responsibility to overcome the constraints imposed by corporate rationality.
Key words: Globalization, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, global governance, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, legitimacy and transparency. 3 Introduction Globalization is a term which has been used to describe and explain many worldwide phenomena with an emphasis on the development of a new market economy.
The advancements made over the last 30 years in computer hardware, software, and telecommunications have caused widespread improvements in access to information and economic potential which have led to a reshaping of the national economies and social lives of many countries around the world. Information technology provides the communication network that facilitates the expansion of products, ideas, and resources creating efficient and effective channels to exchange information. In other words, IT has been a catalyst for global integration.
Liberals advocate that globalization increases economic integration allowing for the movement of goods, finance, capital, production, investment, and to a lesser extent labor, across national borders. Globalization by this definition implies that the integration approaches a singular market system world-wide. However, others have fiercely criticized globalization as a threat to social cohesion and as the advancement of unfettered capitalism, which in turn undermines the Welfare State [Rendtarff 2009:32-35].
German sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has persistently been criticizing the globalization of the world. He argues that with the growing influence of profit driven multinational corporations (MNC), fueled by the nation-states loss of power and control, the end result will be an increased global disorder. Economic activities of the multinational corporations inevitably cross the territorybound validity of state regulation and bureaucracy.
Companies are now able to split their valuechain processes and distribute their production sites worldwide and in their search for cost advantages they arbitrate among alterative regulations, choosing locations according to their economic requirements. Bauman believes that globalization has given the company less social responsibility and because it is free to relocate, it is also free to avoid consequences since corporations are no longer subject to the rules defined by a specific nation state.
Although multinational corporations are not new economic actors, what has dramatically changed is the way they operate around the world and their increased level of economic power [Rendtarff 2009]. 4 Problem area The decreased control of the nation-states combined with the eroding of established mechanisms of democratic governance, processes of political decision-making exceed the territorial bound borders of political systems and involve new actors such as MNCs and NGOs.
Especially the MNCs and their actions have been given an important role in this new world order and this naturally raises some questions as to how the multinational corporations treat their numerous stakeholders and handle the various societal, economical and environmental challenges. As globalization progressed, the gap of transnational legal regulation grew which lead to a rise in demand for the MNCs to acknowledge their new important role as corporate citizens in a globalized world.
The lack of legal regulation and moral orientation has caused the world society to look to the MNCs for answers and processes of corporate self-regulation and corporate social responsibility have become key factors in this debate. Following the above mentioned the focus of my investigation is therefore that of the multinational corporation and how Maersk, as one of the world’s largest shipping firms that just until recently signed the UN Global Compact in which they promise to become a socially, economically and environmentally responsible corporation, have handled these challenges.
This has led me to the problem formulation below. In order to thoroughly answer the main question I chose to add a secondary side-question. Problem formulation ? Why should A. P. Moeller Maersk Group actively engage themselves in developing global governance and how come it is their responsibility to help create a framework of rules and regulations for the global economy instead of just focusing on profit maximization? ? How does A. P. Moeller Maersk Group address societal, economical and environmental values in order to meet its obligations to various stakeholders/shareholders?
Methodology The paper is structured around three key parts, a theoretical part, a detailed case description and a section for elaborate discussion. The theoretical part will primarily rely on the article “Global Rules and Private Actors: Toward a new role of the transnational corporations in global governance” by Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann but I will also draw on Jacob Rendtarff’s book 5 Responsibility, Ethics and Legitimacy of Corporations” for inspiration and information involving corporate citizenship.
Instead of just summarizing the different viewpoints in the article, the theoretical section will focus on how the multinational corporations are portrayed and how global governance or rather the lack thereof, has been given a pivotal position in the current debate about the role of the multinational corporations in globalization. Followed by that, a case description of A. P. Moeller Maersk Group which will provide a better understanding of the challenges Maersk face and what Maersk’s commitment with regard to their own perspective as being a good corporate citizen is?
The third section involves various recent scenarios that reflect the increased global focus on the responsibility and the accountability of multinational corporations and furthermore what actions Maersk have undertaken in order to secure and maintain their image as a responsible corporation. This section also serves as the discussion part of my paper since I will not only describe the various cases against Maersk but also comment on them with the theoretical section in mind.
The information used in this section will be from a wide range of different sources such as web articles, news publications and Maersk’s Sustainability report from 2010. Delimitations Due to a limited page and timeframe this paper contains certain limitations and shortcomings which I am aware of but I thoroughly believe that the overall result is a carefully selected and compelling combination of relevant theories, articles, own thoughts and web based news stories and articles.
Aforementioned time limitations restricted me to primarily rely on secondary data e. g. Maersk publications, articles and news stories which I naturally could not verify the validity of. I realize that the information I gather from Maersk might be biased and lack trustworthiness but to overcome these issues I have tried to be critical toward the information I have used.
These limitations consequently also means that I might have overlooked some details also relevant to the main problem formulation, yet I am certain that the paper will reflect my attempt to create as varied a paper as possible. 6 Theoretical part The article “Global Rules and Private Actors: Toward a new role of the transnational corporations in global governance” presented by Andreas Scherer, Guido Palazzo & Dorothee Baumann, deals with the challenges arising from globalization that have affected the relationship between the public and the private sphere.
In recent years corporations have been asked to play a key role in addressing issues that appear to go beyond their primary economic function, for instance, corporations are increasingly being urged to tackle issues like global poverty, protecting human rights, and implementing social and environmental standards but whether corporations are able to play such a role is still questionable.
Although there is a long history of corporate engagement with the broader society through philanthropy and community development, classical liberals still hold that the primary function of a corporation is that of profit maximization, which in turn limits the extent of a corporation’s involvement with broader social issues. The position here is based on a strict division of labor between the private and public domains, where corporations should only focus on profit seeking, while the state deals with issues concerning the public sphere.
In this view, corporate social responsibility should only be pursued if it contributes to the corporation’s profit generation [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:506-508]. In a globalized world, however, this model of society with its separation of public and private spheres no longer seems valid due to an increasingly interconnected and highly complex environment.
Because of the dynamics of modern societies, social discrepancies and coordination issues can no longer be solved by state-designed rules and administration alone. In other words, the state’s regulatory capacity and administrative power has diminished in the wake of globalization due to the emerging multinational corporations and their level on economic power which plays a key role in the national economic policy-making. According to Scherer et. l, globalization has caused a change in global business regulations from state-centric forms toward new multilateral, non-territorial modes of regulation in which formal rules and resolutions have to be complemented by so-called self-organizing processes within the corporation so that the deficits in regulation can be managed [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:508-512]. In light of this development, MNCs have slowly started to deal with the challenge of self-regulation due to public pressure and lack of global governance.
With subsidiary companies all over the 7 world, globally expanded supply chains and a complex network of business relations, MNC’s have been ‘forced’ to work with NGO’s and other international organizations in order to avoid violating various international conventions. Within these public-private partnerships, MNC’s try to cooperate with different actors in order to identify and solve problems in various areas of public concern.
But these acts of corporate self-regulation have been met with a growing suspicion as these self-imposed standards are not always the result of a broader and inclusive discourse with the civil society and have arguably been implemented without any form of neutral third-party control. Well formulated ethical rules and codes of conduct cannot guarantee that the true nature of a multinational corporation is genuinely good [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:518].
Nevertheless, some corporations have started to operate with a political agenda engaging in activities that were once the responsibility of the state e. g. providing rules and administrating citizenship rights. Corporations are, according to the article and the above mentioned, gradually turning into political actors and when viewed from the republican business ethics model, the corporations assume a double role as citizens in both the private and the public sphere.
This contradicts the classical liberal view where corporations only reside within the private sphere and is therefore regulated by state laws e. g. the public sphere. “Corporate ethics […] means that a business firm, as a ‘corporate citizen’, is aware of its responsibilities to initiate and to support ‘vital’ reforms of the politico-economic order, as far as they are necessary to secure the legitimacy and life-conduciveness of market competition, instead of misunderstanding politics only as a continuation of business with different means” [Ulrich 2000; Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:516].
This means that the behavior of corporations is gradually shifting toward a state-like role where they not only pursue their own interests but also help formulate rules that are of public interest and contribute to the peaceful stabilization of a given society. Corporations are regarded as political actors with citizenship rights and duties and the republican business ethics model attempts to justify why corporations should contribute to global governance.
However, inasmuch as corporations engage in any political activity, a legitimacy issue arises since corporation and their managers are neither elected nor democratically controlled [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006]. 8 In the pre-globalization era of efficient national steering mechanisms, legitimacy was no direct problem for business. The legitimacy of economic actors as well as of the economic system was provided by regulatory agencies which generated a link to governmental legitimacy by protecting shareholders and consumers as well as other stakeholders.
Furthermore, classical and neoclassical economics assumed that the self-regulating nature of the marketplace, the invisible hand, worked sufficiently enough to maximize societal welfare through the maximization of individual and corporate utility, legitimizing corporations due to their contribution to the common good. From this perspective economic efficiency and legitimacy converged which meant that businesses could mainly concentrate on the maintenance of economic efficiency.
Today on the other hand, this functioning regulatory framework is no longer satisfactory in many instances and therefore the convergence of efficiency and legitimacy is disabled. This is either due to the cross-border business actions of multinational corporations resulting in the incapacity of nation states to control these operations or due to the operation in states with insufficient or absent legal protection mechanisms [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:520]. Scherer et. l believes that the current understanding of legitimacy has to be reframed in all its dimensions due to the impact that globalization has had on traditional governance structures seeing as the discourse has moved from state actors to private actors and from “hard” national law to “soft” transnational law. They suggest applying Habermas’ approach of deliberative democracy to corporations where deliberation is conceptualized as a network of negotiations aiming at controlling administrative power by finding rational and fair solutions for problems. Only the democratization of corporate activities, through continuous discourse participation and enlarged mechanisms of transparency, monitoring, and reporting, can close the legitimacy gap of the corporation as a political actor in a globalized economy” [Fung 2003; Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:520]. In view of this, the new role of the state and international institutions, according to the article, should be to control those discourses and guarantee the required transparency and monitoring, referred to as political embeddedness.
This new area of responsibility is to ensure the comparability of information and ensure that less powerful stakeholders have access to the discourse which could provide a solution to the legitimacy issue concerning corporate political 9 activities. In other words, the self-regulation of corporations should take place in a broad process of democratic will-formation and it should be controlled in collaboration with civil society actors. [Fung 2003; Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:520-22].
The UN global compact is a good example of international institutions capability to create platforms for self-regulation and deliberation between corporations and civil society actors regarding social, economical or environmental challenges. Corporate acts of self-regulation, and corporate promotion of citizenship rights has to be politically enforced, and the only way this is possible is by the democratic embeddedness of such acts of CSR [Scherer, Palazzo & Baumann 2006:523].
A. P. Moeller Maersk Group A. P. Moller-Maersk Group is a global conglomerate founded in 1904. It operates in various economic areas such as energy, logistics, retail and manufacturing industries but is primarily known for its shipping business and their ties to the oil industry. The company operates in 130 countries around the world and has a workforce of approximately 110. 000 employees.
Maersk is an example of a multinational corporation that has benefitted from increased technological advancements and globalization, and they are convinced that by continuing to stay active in shipping, ports and inland infrastructure, oil production and services, Maersk Group will have attractive opportunities for not only growing their own business, but also helping develop communities and economies in the future [Maersk sustainability report 2010:9]. “Our vision is to be a responsible and profitable enterprise balancing economic, social and environment concerns for the benefit of the company and the global community”[Maersk. om]. As a global corporation, Maersk is deeply embedded in the world’s infrastructure, and accordingly Maersk has a large potential for impact. An industrial conglomerate with their reach thus has a role to play in promoting sustainable business practices and international standards in the performance of economic activity. “We have the ability and responsibility to do things right and contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet and our stakeholders. We see this not as a constraint but rather an opportunity for our businesses” [Maersk sustainability report 2010:19].
An example of Maersk’s reach is their widespread supply chain with more than 100,000 suppliers in over 100 countries. By adopting internationally agreed standards for responsible business 10 conduct and embedding these into their supply chain, Maersk believes they have what it takes to influence suppliers’ sustainability performance. Accordingly, Maersk believes they have taken major steps over the past two years to implement formalized principles and forge partnerships that integrate social responsibility more tightly into their business and their perations. Maersk’s overall aim is to integrate a sustainability strategy in all business operations by 2013 in which four themes have priority; health and safety, environment and climate, social responsibility and responsible business practices. These themes have been organized into five priority areas that according to Maersk’s sustainability report of 2010 should provide the company with a firm foundation for achieving business integration of sustainability [Maersk Sustainability Report 2010:16]. ? ?
Group standards: with which all business units and group functions must comply. The Group will report annually on compliance with standards. Performance management: by including sustainability in management reviews and leadership development programmes, our employee engagement survey, as well as development of key performance indicators on sustainability linked to reward systems. ? Trend spotting and stakeholder engagement: investigating future trends for risks and opportunities for Maersk and aligning future actions with stakeholder expectations. ? Capital expenditure: where in due course all business units and group investment decisions should include sustainability perspectives. New markets and innovation: to enable development of new business models by turning sustainability issues into business opportunities. The following section will illustrate that although Maersk’s sustainability report portrays Maersk willingness to become a sustainable and responsible corporation, the road to achieving this image is long and hard with challenges still to come.
Cases against Maersk During the past few years A. P. Moeller Maersk Group came under increased scrutiny from nongovernmental organizations, local governments and the media. The different cases below show some of the challenges Maersk has faced and how local governments, NGO’s and the media has increased their pressure on MNC’s in order to create awareness about corporate responsible 11 behavior. However, the cases also show how Maersk reacted to the various accusations and what course of action they took.
Back in 2008 Maersk’s North Sea oil platform Janice was closed down by the British Health and Safety Executive because of major safety problems and at the same time Maersk was being accused of blacklisting workers who questioned the safety on Janice. According to the OILC which represented some of the workers on the platform, at least three employees lost their jobs because of blacklisting. HSE-inspector Dave Walker was quoted for saying, “Maersk seems to have put the emphasis on a profitable project against a positive safety culture. Maersk responded by denying that any kind of blacklisting had occurred and by saying that they encourage their employees to discuss safety issues on all of their platforms. Michael Engell-Jensen declared that “It is the policy of Maersk Oil to give safety first priority, and the Janice oil and gas production will remain shut down until production can be safely resumed” *Itfglobal. org: 5/2-2008]. Maersk dealt with the accusations from OILC and promised to keep the oil rig close down for maintenance until every safety issue was resolved.
A year later Maersk joined the UN Global Compact promising to abide by the ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption but this act of willingness to become a responsible multinational corporation was shadowed by another crisis that was unfolding in China. The Hong Kong based organization, Globalization Monitor, was the first to criticize the working conditions on one of Maersk’s container factories and soon after DanWatch and Amnesty International followed up.
Evidently Maersk had written in the workers manual that going on strike, protesting and not cleaning up after one self was reason enough to be fired which was a breach of ILO’s conventions concerning labour rights according to campaign manager of Amnesty International, Sanne Borges. Maersk agreed to investigate the problem and hired the British consultant firm Impactt Ltd to write a report to see whether or not the accusations were legitimate. “The report will be an internal document where names and so on will appear and we will therefore not go public with it.
After the investigation we will present our results and plans for the future to Globalization Monitor and then inform the public of our conclusions” said Annette Stube, head of CSR in Maersk [Information. dk: 25/3-2009]. Although this was seen as a positive step, Amnesty International and DanWatch continued to criticize and questioned the lack of 12 transparency that such a report would have, claiming that the report should be looked through by an impartial third part in order to ensure its validity.
The director of DanWatch, Soren Ring, stated that “There should not be any money involved between Maersk and the company that investigates the conditions on the factory. It harms the transparency and credibility that Maersk wants to signal with this report. Instead they should have asked the International Maritime Organization (IMO) or the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) to pick a legitimate investigator [Information. dk: 25/3-2009]. Soren Ring feared, that since the report would not be made public, some conclusions could possibly be left out due to the negative effect they could have.
Despite the criticism, UN Global Compact board member, Mads Ovlisen, supported Maersk’s decision to investigate and pointed out that even though it was an internal report, it was still a step in the right direction, a step towards an open dialog with employees and the local community [Information. dk: 25/32009]. In April 2010, Maersk again found themselves being accused of violating human rights in Central America. According to an article from Information. dk, employees from the Maersk owned trucking company BIT had to submit to a polygraph test in case of any criminal activity.
Gilberto Garcia from the business council of Latin America believed that Maersk consciously used the polygraph test as a strategic tool for keeping the workers down and from joining any kind of workers union. Amnesty International’s, Sanne Borges again expressed her concern and informed Maersk that the use of polygraph tests were in clear violation of ILO’s and the UN’s human rights conventions. Maersk Lines head of social responsibility Helene Regnell reacted to the information with disbelief but guaranteed that polygraph tests would no longer be used by any of Maersk’s business partners [Information. k: 26/4-2010]. Not long after, the transparency issue of 2009 resurfaced again but this time it was Maersk Oil and its partnerships that was being targeted and questions about Maersk Oil and corruption arose. In a report made by Transparency International and Revenue Watch Institute, the national oil company Sonatrach in Algeria and Angolan owned Sonangol, two of Maersk Oils business partners, were ranked in the bottom of the scale when looking at the level of transparency and how he oil profit was spent. The author of the report, Francois Valerian from Transparency International did stress, that working in high risk areas like Algeria and Angola were not the same thing as being involved in corruption but consequently the parent company needs to ensure that the subsidiary companies follow the same rules and 13 regulations as the parent company. And while the A. P.
Moeller-Maersk Group committed themselves even further in becoming a Lead Participant in UN Global Compact, Maersk Oil hesitated in adhering to the oil industry’s voluntary initiative EITI, to increase transparency about payments to local governments and in what regions they look for oil [Business. dk:28/1-2011; Information. dk:2/3-2011]. Although Maersk has been in the spotlight over the last few years they are still considered as a good example of how multinational corporations adopt corporate social responsibility, and they still remain one of the lead participants in Global Compact.
One could argue that all these different scenarios have helped pave the way for Maersk’s willingness to commit to a greater responsibility and to among others develop solutions for its human rights problems. However, one could also argue that since Maersk seemingly hesitated to involve any critics or third parties to participate in the implementation of its CSR as the cases have shown, the problems have persisted and so have the pressure.
But all the above mentioned cases indicates what a challenge it is to implement a rewarding CSR policy throughout a corporation that has offices in more than 130 countries and over 100. 000 employees. Due to the business magnitude of Maersk and its worldwide impact, the demand for CSR principles from Maersk to suppliers is no small matter but Maersk is increasingly showing an effort to become a responsible and sustainable multinational corporation. It seems that Maersk has finally opened its decision making process to civil society critics.
They have launched a stakeholder initiative through which they try to find solutions for emerging problems in collaboration with NGOs, international organizations, and public institutions. Furthermore, Maersk implemented the so-called ‘whistleblower’ policy, which allows employees to anonymously report wrongdoing internally. The whistleblower system provides a companysanctioned channel for employees to report violations of rules, mismanagement, waste or abuse of authority.
According to Chief Attorney Christian Kledal, the implementation of the whistleblower system, gives Maersk the opportunity to investigate and solve any problematic issue internally which of course is a preferred solution [Business. dk 24/1-2011]. Maersk also received praises for their effective work on the Apapa port in Lagos, Nigeria in the latest addition of Danida’s monthly magazine. A socio-economic study made by the Maersk Group revealed that after Maersk took over the port, they effectively reduced the waiting time for containerships from 14 0 days to less than 1 day, saving Nigeria 200 million dollars annually. Secondly, they brought down the working staff from 2. 500 in 2006 to 712 in 2009 which in turn gave an increased profit of which 72 percent is channeled back to the local community through taxes, payrolls and purchases made locally. Chief advisor for Maersk’s CSR, Jens Lund believes that these kinds of stories are important in a global context because it shows the important role a company plays in developing countries and how strong collaboration with the government, the local community and the local businesses benefits all parties.
The growing political embeddedness of their CSR activities is accompanied by growing transparency as well as by stricter monitoring and reporting. The cases describe a move toward a strengthened political legitimacy of Maersk’s global activity where selfregulation no longer is an enforced act that is sorted out by the corporation in isolation.
It also describes an intensive networking of corporate and public discourses, a concept of responsibility that goes beyond liability, and an increased credibility due to a sustainable and accountable policy within Maersk or as Maersk itself puts it, “We constantly strive to act as a good corporate citizen and to share in a responsible manner our experience […] and Maersk are committed to being accountable to its stakeholders, to conduct its business in an ethical and lawful manner, to work against corrupt practices and to be recognized as a reliable, trusted and engaged partner in all its business dealings” [Maersk sustainability report:2010]. Conclusion Globalization has caused extensive changes in various areas of the world and for both the state and the corporations new challenges have arisen. We know from experience that governments have a vital role in creating an effective legal and regulatory framework in which the private sector is enabled to operate. But as this paper has shown, the states loss of power, lack of regulatory capabilities and limited influence over multinational corporations and their operations in the world, has meant that the international society increasingly look toward the multinational corporations to take responsibility.
Furthermore, international institutions, civil society groups and non-governmental organizations continually apply pressure on the multinational corporations to show responsibility and to be accountable and transparent about their actions. Multinational corporations seem to have heard this call as more and more of them have begun working with and 15 incorporating sustainability into their company policies, acknowledging their role as a corporate citizen in a globalized world. Maersk is one of these multinational corporations which have shown a willingness to become a responsible corporation and help create a framework for global governance. Since Maersk hired Annette Stube, former director of Novo Nordisk’s sustainability program and joined the UN Global Compact, Maersk has set a new course toward a much more sustainable and responsible way of doing business.
They have actively been engaging in dialogs with governments, international institutions and NGO’s which in combination with internal processes have resulted in a sustainability program that is currently being implemented into all of Maersk’s business practices. It seems that Maersk have realized that through collaboration with various stakeholders they have the opportunity to positively influence the world and help build a foundation where CSR is imbedded into the business practices of multinational corporations. The paper has shown that Maersk are aware of the numerous societal, economical and environmental challenges and that these issues will not be solved overnight.
Maersk’s involvement in Nigeria is a perfect example of how a CSR-minded multinational corporation through a long term engagement with a developing country can not only create value for itself but also help the development in that given country. That being said, Maersk still has a long way to go, especially with regards to the lack of transparency in the oil industry but as previously mentioned they have set a new course towards being a responsible and sustainable multinational corporation. 16 References Scherer, Andreas, Palazzo, Guido and Baumann, Dorothee (2006): Toward a new role of the transnational corporations in global governance. In Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 16, Issue 4. Rendtarff, Jacob Dahl (2009): Responsibility, Ethics and Legitimacy of Corporations.
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