Ethics Theory and Business Practice 3.3 Kantian Theory – Part Three Kantian Ethics Theory Applied to Labour Standards in Offshore Production aims • to describe how Kantian theory can be applied to evaluate the ethicality of employment practices in an offshore production scenario offshoring • transfer of manufacturing and assembly operations to the developing world • lower costs • less-stringent labour laws • outsource production to specialist factory operators potential benefits of offshoring • • • • • for consumers for shareholders for employees in developing nations for local economy in developing nations for communities in developing nations some criticisms of labour standards in offshored operations • • • • • • low pay long hours harsh management poor health and safety standards no job security no employee representation (Klein, 2001) applying Kantian theory to identify corporate responsibilities in relation to offshoring • identifying imperfect duty • identifying perfect duty identifying imperfect duty • what sentiments might the company’s managers want other people to show towards them and their company? • those managers have an imperfect duty to develop these sentiments in their company and express them towards others identifying perfect duty: applying the three formulas of the categorical imperative 1. the formula of universal law 2. the formula of the end in itself 3. the formula of universal acceptability 1. applying the formula of universal law ask five questions: • Question 1: what is the company trying to achieve by its action? • Question 2: what is the maxim upon which it is acting? • Question 3: what would universal adoption of that maxim consist of? • Question 4: what would be the eventual result of universal adoption of that maxim? • Question 5: how would this affect the company‘s success in achieving what it is trying to achieve? 2. applying the formula of the end in itself • is the company treating its employees purely as a means to an end, or is it also treating them as an end in their own right? • what might treating employees as an end in their own right consist of? 3. applying the formula of universal acceptability • the ‘New York Times test’ (Trevino and Nelson, 2004: 99) • would the company’s decision-makers be happy for information about labour standards in their offshored operations to appear in the national newspaper? theory in practice Rana Plaza: a disaster waiting to happen key points • Kant offers practical rules that can be used to identify perfect duty in business scenarios • Kant also encourages us to think about our imperfect duty to encourage certain sentiments in business • the emphasis that Kant places on freedom highlights the desirability of businesspeople making their own reason-based decisions about ethics references Klein, N. (2001) No Logo. London: Harper Collins. Trevino, L.K. and Nelson, K.A. (2004) Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right (3rd edn). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.