International strategies and ethics: Exploring the tensions between head office and subsidiaries
Date of this Version
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the complexities and tensions that international organisations face in managing ethics.
Design/methodology/approach – Three levels of ethics are identified and discussed in the paper in the context of three international strategies.
Findings – The study finds that an organisation’s approach to ethics depends on its level of ethics and the type of international strategy adopted. These two dimensions have the potential to create identifiable tensions between head office and subsidiaries that will need to be understood and managed.
Practical implications – The paper offers practical guidance to managers by providing a framework for better understanding the tensions and challenges faced by head office and subsidiaries when operating in international markets. Hence, it makes explicit an aspect of strategic management that may not be obvious, but that could influence the organisation’s ability to achieve its strategic goals.
Originality/value – This paper extends previous research on ethics and international business by proposing that an organisation’s approach to ethics depends on the level of ethics at which it operates and the type of strategy it has adopted.
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