The Competitive Advantage for International Businesses


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important term in understanding modern business ethics. Although this term has been widely accepted in modern business management, its practice is still the subject to much debate and criticism that arise from the different understandings and perspectives concerning how business organizations should achieve its social functions (Habisch, André; Jan Jonker, Martina Wegner, R. Schmidpeter (eds.), 2005). For example, there has long been a debate upon the profit-seeking role and the responsibility-focusing role of businesses. To different people, the core value of business organizations is still controversial. Anyhow, there is one proponent that argues the CSR can bring about long-terms of profit to companies. If a company only focuses on the short-term profit-seeking management strategy, it would not be successful to develop in a sustained way because such a strategy might cause dangers of public criticism and not be effective to retain customers. So, on the long run, CSR management is an essential strategy for the sustained development of a business (Williams, Cynthia A.; Ruth V. Aguilera, 2008).

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Some people say that that CSR distracts business organizations from the fundamental economic role of seeking profits. However, there are still others argue that the adoption of CSR strategies by businesses is compelled by the governments and the overall social ethic environment. Whatever the reasons for businesses to conduct CSR strategies, it is significant that business organizations have to observe the social mores of fulfilling their ethic duties. So, ethical principles can arise in the modern business environment as one of the basic requirements of companies in different areas (R.H. Gray, D.L. Owen & K.T. Maunders, 2007).

In the conscience-focused environment of businesses, the demand for more ethical business actions is increasing. To modern business organizations, ethic pressure is as big as the pressure of making money. This pressure coming from the business environment is best illustrated by the various laws issues by both governments and non-profit organizations whose role is to monitor and scrutinize the behavior of businesses (Bhattacharya, C.B., Sankar Sen and Daniel Korschun, 2008). For example, some non-governmental organizations such as Anti Pollution Citizens` Committee play an important role in monitoring enterprises from polluting the natural environment of the earth. The function of these organizations is like a watchdog to regularize the behavior of different business organizations of the world and thus compels companies to pay special attention to protect the earth's environment from being polluted. This is especially the case in the past few decades with the issue of some important laws by the governments of many countries to release dangerous pollutes into the air, the soil and the water (R.H. Gray, D.L. Owen & K.T. Maunders, 2007). Obviously, these laws and regulations are important in preserving the world environment in which we lives.

The term CSR came into existence and was widely accepted by business organizations in the early 1970s. It implies the impact of modern business ethics upon the behavior of modern organizations as well as the world legislation to monitor and scrutinize business activities. However, at the present time, since the social and economic conditions in different countries and different areas in the world are largely unbalanced, contradictions are often available in how to rationalize business behavior in observing their social duties especially in the international background (Wood, D., 1991). For example, in some developing countries, there are still many businesses are violating the ethic principles required universally. For example, in some provinces in China, the abuse of child labor and the pollution of the natural environment are still serious problems. In Shanxi Province alone, it has been reported that coal mine disasters (Shanxi Province is the largest coal mine region in China) often occurred which has led to many cases of death of coal mine workers. The working conditions of these coal mine workers are still very primitive in many areas in the province. So, these companies in similar still lack the sense of CSR management. It is upon both the governmental regulation and the promotion of CSR awareness that this problem can be solved.

2. CSR framework

For an international business to be successful, the scientific methodology of management as well as the overall perspective of marketing management and ethical observation are important (Habisch, André; Jan Jonker, Martina Wegner, R. Schmidpeter, eds. 2005). These are many factors influencing business activities in different targeted marketplaces. The CSR management, for example, is one such important factor. Overall, the success of international business management in CSR is based on the CSR framework of an overall scale. This is illustrated in the following figure:

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From this figure, we can see that the implementation of the CSR strategy is conducted according to the modern management principles of a unified business organizational behavior. In the first place, business organizations establish the general visions and values that are to be adopted to guide the concrete activities. Under this requirement, the strategies of the CSR management are made to achieve certain functions. Also, a controlling and materiality portfolio are made in order to guarantee the successful implementation. These are in turn under the guidelines of the international norms and recommendations. The combination of the international guidelines and the inner guidelines formed the overall principles.

3. CSR and cultural diversity

3.1 The relationship between CSR and cultural diversity

The reason why CSR and cultural diversity are closely related lies in that the cultural diversity of a business organization is the basis of its international business ethics. With this, an international business has the responsibility or social ethics of catering for customers from different cultural backgrounds. So, cultural toleration is an important competitive strength for an international business. To be sure, responsible conduct of an international business organization forms the basis of their ethics in different targeted marketplaces. It is an important factor influencing the decision-making process and strategies of these business organizations different markets with different cultures and traditions. Also, the organizational behavior of these businesses is an important part of the stakeholders-centered strategy as the interests of the shareholders are based on the long-term and sustained development of the business in different targeted markets in the world. So, the business vision of international business organizations is derived from the ethical values and gives what the businesses expect ---- a long-term orientation for further business development. To put it another way, the sustained development of these businesses is just based on the cultural toleration or cultural diversity. Prerequisite for being accepted by the international society and achieving long-lasting success are what have been focused by these international businesses. Otherwise, they would not be successful business organizations under the more and more integrated world market. Striving to be a global player, an international business pays special attention to the activities that have a broad impact on the customers and the shareholders. In the meanwhile, the businesses' social responsibility is also focused on the environment as well as the society as a whole. Corporate Social Responsibility for these organizations means that these businesses have to ensure the success and the future of the businesses rather than the short-termed desire of making profits. The case of Siemens' cultural toleration in China can be seen as a typical example of cultural diversity management of large international business organizations. Here, we can see that cultural diversity and the sense of CRS in Siemens' China market are key elements for its marketing success in this country.

Generally, the CSR and cultural diversity strategy of Siemens China includes the following different aspects:

In the first place, obeying the laws issued by both the central government and the local governments is highlighted by the company. So, the company strives to fight against the unfair competition that violates the regulations of the overall business environment of China. As such, the inner regulations of the company have been made according to the spirit of the current civil laws of China (Beijing Evening News, 2008).

Secondly, Siemens China has long been paying attention to the respect of the dignity of all people in the target marketplace, including the staff members and the customers. To be sure, this is also what other companies are doing in obeying the business ethics under the modern business environment.

In the third place, foster health and safety of the production and utilization of the company is one of the basic points of business management of Siemens China. This necessarily includes the awareness of protecting the environment and maintaining the safety and quality of the products of the company. So, in order to do so, the company conducts business in a truthful and transparent manner, hoping to be honest in doing businesses and gaining the confidence of the customers.

Fourthly, the company is committed to establish a good corporate citizenship with the people in the target market. This is a striking point to achieve the highest performance in business management and marketing performance.

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So, apart from its business successes in China, Siemens also pays attention to its public image of observing the principles of business ethics. By and large, this has given a chance for Siemens to continue it market expansion in different cities in China because of its long-term developing perspective that is derived from the CSR management. So, it is safe to say that without these implementations, Siemens would not be as successful as it is today in competing with its business rivals not only in China but also in many other parts of the world. In a sense, it is just because of the focus of CSR in China that the company has gained the support both from the government and its customers.

3.2 Implementation of CSR in different cultural environments

From the above-mentioned case of cultural diversity management of Siemens we can see that CSR can be regarded as not only a competitive strength but also a marketing strategy for international business organizations to impact the targeted market. To be sure, the implementation of CSR in different cultural environments is crucial to the sustained development of international businesses. Without a global cultural perspective, an international business can not be expected to occupy overseas market. Under the more and more integrated world business market, the notion of respecting different cultures is so important for business organizations that cultural diversity and culture toleration have been considered to be one of the most important strategies for business success. It is the very reason why these businesses are paying more attention today to adopt a developing strategy based on the understanding of different cultures of various targeted marketplaces. Today's world is a culturally integrated world, in which cultural influences are essential for business activities. Without the consideration of cultural diversity and the respect of different cultural traditions in different targeted marketplaces, international businesses would not become influential in the whole world.

4. Conclusion

To summarize, CSR management and CSR principles reflect the need for modern business organizations to observe the environmental requirement of business ethics. This is a decisive factor for the success of business competition in the process of cultural integration and globalized market. It is safe to say that without the observation of the ethic principles, the development of business will not last long. The practice of many different international businesses have illustrated this. Today's business world is full of trivial elements for business success. Only those who adopt an overall perspective of business development can survive in the more and more completive market. The management of CSR and cultural diversity are important elements.