How do multinationals address conflicting norms and expectations? This article focuses on corporate codes of ethics in the area of child labor as possible expressions of Strategic International Human Resource Management. It analyses whether 50 leading multinationals adopt universal ethical norms (related to exportive HRM) or relativist ethical norms (related to adaptive HRM and multidomestic strategies). Child labor is not an issue where universalism prevails. Although some multinationals adhere to universal ethical norms, HRM practices are largely multidomestic. To manage the ethical dilemmas, shown from case material, strategic trade-offs (concerning strategy context, process and content, and particularly organizational purpose) are outlined.

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Journal Journal of World Business
Kolk, A, & van Tulder, R.J.M. (2004). Ethics in international business: Multinational approaches to child labor. Journal of World Business, 39(1), 49–60. doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2003.08.014