AB0603 Business Gone Green Ethical Reasoning Assignment Summary Page| Your name: Chia Xinying|
Your Instructor: Dr. Josephine Lang|
Seminar Group: 01 Word Count: 1095| Briefly lay out, in bulleted-form in the space provided within this page (i.e., do not elaborate), the content of your write-up in addressing the various criteria in the ethical reasoning rubric.| Criteria| Your points|
1. Specify the ethical issue identified| * Edited women from their Saudi Arabia’s catalogue * Goes against Ikea Group and Sweden’s values * Reflects the pervasive ethical business challenge faced * Further ethical implications such as cultural imperialism| 2. Issue construction: Theoretical perspectives used to elaborate on the issue| * Consequentialism – Ethical Egoism: Self interest to garner business support justified * Consequentialism – Utilitarianism: Went against view of majority; unjustified * Deontology –Kantianism: In accordance to moral rules of Saudi Arabia, against principle moral of rights * The Conventional Approach: Follows conventional Saudi Arabia’s advertising; justified|
3. Issue construction: Uncertainties inherent in the issue| * Business ethics and corporate social responsibility- search for universal values for international commercial behaviour * Cultural Imperialism – Infringement of Islam values- Westerners criticize what they do not understand, it might not be right to criticize Ikea’s behaviour * Intent of altering Saudi’s Catalogue – intent remains unknown| 4. Explanation & justification: Effects on key stakeholders| * Ikea as a corporation & its employees- negative repercussions on its reputation and credibility thus imperative for the company to adopt an international guideline * Ikea’s local and global customers- many Swedes were offended by Ikea’s decision * Swedish government – have portrayed Sweden as being gender unequal| 5. Conclusion: Values, synthesis, and trade offs| * Important that Ikea stands by its values in all circumstances * In order to send the correct message to its consumers target
* Corporate red light to Ikea to take cultural marketing issues more seriously * Act in the interest of its stakeholders as it serves an indirect representation. * How to reconcile localization with a universal ethics code, however, will remain a challenge for Ikea as well as other corporations.| Checklist | 1. Summary page ____ 2. 900 to 1100 Words Essay ___ 3. List of References ____ | 4. Signed Declaration of Academic Integrity _____ 5. Self-assessed Ethical Reasoning Rubric ______|
NANYANG BUSINESS SCHOOL
AB0603 – Business Gone Green
Ethical Reasoning Assignment
1095 words (excluding headers, sub-headers and citations)
Name: Chia Xinying
Student Matriculation No.: U1110173A
Instructor: Dr Josephine Lang
Definition of the Ethical issue
Ikea, the international furniture company, edited women from their Saudi Arabia’s catalogue. This action is deemed ethically inappropriate, as it seems to support gender inequality, which goes against Ikea Group and Sweden’s values. (Quinn, 2012) Some may argue that Ikea was submitting to pressure from the conservative Islamic state while others say that Ikea was just respecting and being understanding towards Saudi Arabia’s cultural standards. This media coverage aptly reflects the pervasive ethical business challenge faced by globalized companies, where it is difficult to find a balance between international commercial behaviour and localization of marketing communications. Moreover, this issue could lead to further ethical implications such as cultural imperialism, which will be discussed further.
Theoretical Perspectives to Elaborate on the Issue 1) Principles approach
(a) Consequentialism – Ethical Egoism
Under the egoism approach, Ikea’s decision is justifiable as the move to satisfy Saudi monarchy’s gender segregation rules (Kayyem, 2012) could be seen as an act of self-interest to garner business support in a male-dominated society. On the other hand, Ikea may have also thought that it is an ethical action to be sensitive to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and conform to them.
(b) Consequentialism – Utilitarianism
On the basis that following the view of the majority will produce the best consequence, Ikea’s action is unjustifiable as its action is against the values of Ikea, Sweden and even United Nations (United Nations Millennium Goals). Ikea’s act has thus garnered many bad press and negative reaction from the general public. It has also worsened its own brand image and reputation in the globalized economy.
(c) Deontology -Kantianism
Ikea’s actions are in accordance to moral rules dictated by the Sharia council as women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is largely influenced and defined by Islam and tribal customs. However, this conflicts with the moral principle of rights stating that, “ All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
2) The Conventional Approach
In this final approach, the justification of an act depends on the prevailing norms of the society. In Saudi’s advertisements, women only appear infrequently. (Quinn, 2012) It is not unusual to see censors blacking out many parts of a women’s body in imported magazines. Thus Ikea’s actions will be deemed acceptable to the conventional approach of advertisements in Saudi Arabia.
From the different theoretical perspectives above, it clear that the moral rules and principles that Saudi Arabia follows is different from the rest of the world. Thus it really boils down to which values do Ikea chooses to uphold.
Uncertainties Inherent in the Issue
(a) Business ethics and corporate social responsibility Being a globalized business, Ikea will be constantly dealing with business ethics issue such as the search for universal values for international commercial behaviour. For example, when you adapt your business practices to the country’s customs, cultural values and legal requirements, it might be seen as unacceptable in your home markets. (Baker, 2012) Vice versa, if Ikea were to release an unaltered version of the catalogues in Saudi Arabia, would there be a backlash in the Muslim community? This business uncertainty remains a challenge to international companies.
(b) Cultural Imperialism – Infringement of Islam values
Furthermore, there are many misconceptions in the West about women’s life in Saudi Arabia (NAFJAN, 2012). Western critics towards women rights in Saudi has “failed to understand the uniqueness of Saudi Society”(Zoepf, 2010) and thus should not inflict western values or lifestyles on the Saudi Arabians said journalist Maha Akeei, a frequent critic of Saudi’s patriarchal customs. (Hiel, 2007) Since Westerners criticize what they do not understand, it might not be right to criticize Ikea’s behaviour when Ikea is being sensitive to their culture.
(c) Intent of altering Saudi’s Catalogue
While the reason why Ikea decided to steer away from their progressive Swedish values at home is unclear, it is difficult to ascertain whether the issue was ethical as mentioned earlier.
Effects on key stakeholders
(a) Ikea as a corporation & its employees
Ikea has always been a brand conscious company who has an image that cares about sustainability and its moral values. The company is named one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ for the fourth consecutive year in 2010. (PRNewswire, 2010) However, the fact that the company could betray the company’s values at the drop of a hat, have disappointed many of its customers. Even though Ikea was quick to apologise, its actions already has negative repercussions on its reputation and credibility. ([email protected], 2012) Therefore, it is imperative for the company to adopt an international guideline for its employees to follow to better deal with such dilemmas in the future. The company continued: “We are now reviewing our routines to safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point of view in the different versions of the IKEA Catalogue worldwide.” (Quinn, 2012)
(b) Ikea’s local and global customers
Moreover, many Swedes were offended by Ikea’s decision, believing that the deletion of women from the Saudi catalogue portrayed their country as being “gender unequal.”(Vasic, 2012) Global customers who are supporters of women’s rights will also think less of Ikea and be less loyal towards Ikea.
(c) Swedish government
Even though Ikea is a private company, it inevitably projects an image of Sweden around the world. (Swedish equality minister Nyamko Sabuni, CBC News, 2012) An article of the Swedish Institute also further substantiates that “Ikea is doing more for the image of Sweden than all governmental efforts” (Wästberg, O., 2009). As mentioned, Ikea’s decision might have portrayed Sweden as being gender unequal, thus it is important for Ikea to uphold Sweden’s image, as it is a corporate representation of the country.
In all, Ikea’s reputation has taken a toll and should operate with the right values expected from its customers.
Based on the ethical theories of egoism, conventional approach and moral rules in Saudi Arabia, Ikea’s actions are deemed ethical while based on utilitarianism and principles of rights, their actions are deemed unethical. While one can never satisfy everyone, it is important that Ikea stands by its values in all circumstances, (i.e. sent the original Swedish version of the catalogue to Saudi Arabia) especially when it involves a violation of human rights, ([email protected], 2012) to send the correct message to its consumers target. While there might be nuances of cultural imperialism when different stakeholders criticize Ikea’s actions, it once again boils down to understanding both cultures fully before making a stand.
To recapitulate, through globalization and communications revolution, it is inevitable for companies to face ethical and cultural conflicts. Ikea reflects the realistic marketing choices confronting many globalized companies around the world, with the companies not hesitating to localize their marketing communications though it is against the company’s code of conduct. While Ikea’s motive remains unknown, it has apologised nonetheless. This lesson learnt serves as a corporate red light to Ikea to take cultural marketing issues more seriously and to act in the interest of its stakeholders as it serves an indirect representation. Also, exactly how to reconcile localization with a universal ethics code, however, will remain a challenge for Ikea as well as other corporations.
Quinn, B. (2012). Ikea apologises over removal of women from Saudi Arabia catalogue. The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/02/ikea-apologises-removing-women-saudi-arabia-catalogue
United Nation. (2010) United Nations Millennium Goals http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
United Nations (2010) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1
Baker (2012) IKEA’s Saudi catalogue apology – right and wrong
Zoepf, Katherine (2010). “Talk of Women’s Rights Divides Saudi Arabia”. The New York Times.
Hiel, Betsy (2007). “Dhahran women push the veil aside”. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 19 September 2010. http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/middleeastreports/s_507462.html
PRNewswire ( 2010) IKEA Named as One of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ for Fourth Consecutive Year in 2010 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ikea-named-as-one-of-the-worlds-most-ethical-companies-for-fourth-consecutive-year-in-2010-89384407.html
Arabic [email protected] (2012, October 16). Missing the Picture: IKEA’s Women-free Catalogue in Saudi Arabia Fails to Protect Company Values and Reputation. Retrieved from Arabic [email protected]: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2880
Vasic 2012 Ikea Erases Women From Saudi Arabian Catalogue http://blogs.ubc.ca/ninavasic/2012/10/02/15/
Swedish equality minister Nyamko Sabuni, CBC News, 2012 Ikea regrets editing women out of Saudi cataloguehttp://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/10/01/ikea-saudi-catalogue-controversy.html
Wästberg, O.(2009) Branding Sweden & Ikea
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Course title: Business Gone Green
Course Code: AB0603
Assignment: Ethical Reasoning
I, Chia Xinying, declare that the work which I am submitting is original and that I have made proper referencing and citations (where appropriate and
Chia Xinying 10th March 2013
AB 0603 Business Gone Green
Ethical Reasoning Rubric
ISSUE DEFINITION: Describes the Issue of the Situation|
Weak| Defines the issue either too narrowly or too broadly with embedded personal biases| Average| Defines the explicit issue appropriately and impartially| Professional| Defines the issue holistically and impartially with logical elaboration|
| Weak Average Professional____________________________ 1 2 3| ISSUE CONSTRUCTION : Identifies Alternative Theoretical Perspectives| Weak| Identifies only one theoretical perspective with scant elaboration| Average| Identifies only two theoretical perspectives with some elaboration | Professional| Identifies numerous pertinent theoretical perspectives with good elaboration|
| Weak Average Professional____________________________ 1 2 3| ISSUE CONSTRUCTION: Identifies and Elaborates on Uncertainties| Weak| Unable to identify uncertainties inherent in the ethical situation| Average| Identifies only a few uncertainties inherent in the situation with inadequate elaboration| Professional| Incorporates a comprehensive understanding of uncertainties with logical arguments|
| Weak Average Professional_____________________________ 1 2 3| EXPLANATION AND
JUSTIFICATION: Discusses Effects on Key Stakeholders| Weak| Does not directly describe effects of issue on key stakeholders | Average| Provides little or only superficial discussion of effects of issue on key stakeholders | Professional| Identifies the key stakeholders and addresses their interests and concerns holistically with evidentiary support|
| Weak Average Professional_____________________________ 1 2 3| CONCLUSION: Clarifies Values, Synthesis and Trade-offs|
Weak| Does not discuss the issue holistically and does not explain how various factors were weighed in arriving at a conclusion| Average| Discuss the issue within a narrow context and provides inadequate evaluation of alternatives and weighing of factors | Professional| Provides a holistic discussion of the issue, reconciles conflicting values/interests, and justifies trade-offs made in reaching a conclusion|
| Weak Average Professional_____________________________ 1 2 3| Sources: (a) Wolcott, Susan k., (2005). Colloquium on Change in Accounting Education, October 28, 2005. (b) Sonenshein, Scott. (2007) The role of construction, intuition and justification in responding to ethical issues at work: the sensemaking-intuition model. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 32, No.4, pp. 1022-1040.