This is a follow up from the previous post on the way business marketing authors approached the Viread retro-viral drug and its use in Africa during clinical testing trials. In the chapter on business ethics in this textbook, International Marketing, the authors subtly discuss environmental ethics and its effect on business.

Activists are the bane of a marketer’s professional life. They are constantly working to destroy the image of a business and expose its innermost flaws. This is something the business class needs to reply to with skill because it could tarnish the image and the profit of the business. Exxon Mobil, for example, funded climate change skeptic groups – the Heartland Institute, Advancement of Sound Science Center, etc. – in order to refute the claims of environmental activists who were making it difficult for the oil industry to ignore climate change.

“Business ethics” comes to the rescue. It provide business professionals with better rhetorical skill and strategies to further exploitation. The study of “business ethics” is an excuse to teach the student of marketing how to get around ethical norms, how to promote an image of ethical leadership, and how to make business as usual viable for the business.

Here is a section of the book that discusses global warming.

The Ethical Nature of Promoting Large SUVs

Cars emit carbon dioxide, which is thought to contribute to global warming. Such emissions can be reduced when fewer people purchase large SUVs, which are generally fuel-inefficient vehicles. CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) rules are set at only 20.7 miles per gallon for SUVs as compared to 27.5 mph for full-size cars. Hence, SUVs have come under attack as making the United States more dependent on imported oil, as well as for their poor safety record. The industry, by manufacturing and promoting more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, could help reduce dependence on energy imports. Should car companies, therefore, promote fuel-efficient cars and encourage to buy them at the expense of pricier, more profitable, large, fuel-guzzling SUVs? In Canada, the answer has been a resounding “yes.” Canadian automobile companies signed an agreement with the Canadian government, agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent over five years, which would involve using fuel-saving technologies and alternative fuels such as ethanol, clean deisel, and biodiesel.”

The book says that when there are multiple stakeholders, corporations need guidance as to how to deal with and prioritize values.

“A puzzle for corporations is that there are many worthy causes and constituencies. A firms’ consumers and its shareholders might ask what it is doing about global warming, terrorism, governmental corruption, and poverty, among other issues. An automobile company might well argue that its products have little to do with terrorism, governmental corruption, and poverty. The company may go on to state that it is working on reducing emissions and is devoting funds to research to develop an engine that is clean-burning, thus helping to reduce global warming. In rebuttal, activists might point out that the company imports thousands of containers full of parts every year and that its manufacturing processes in other countries, coupled with these shipments, contribute to pollution and global warming.”

In the Questions and Research section, the book asks students to consider a few points from the chapter and discuss them in groups. The question relevant to this portion of the textbook is not, “What is the role of business in addressing climate change?” or, “What are some ways the automobile industry can address climate change?” or something along those lines. The question is,

“How does the presence of multiple stakeholders affect conduct? Focus on the issue of reducing environmental pollution globally to discuss how the green lobby affects global business practices.”