Is Employing Children in Poor Countries Ethical or Not?

Ethics in International Business

Ethics has been an issue of great importance across many nations due to the differences in political systems and cultural values. What could be considered appropriate behavior in one nation that can turn out to be unethical in another country? In international business, ethical issues include employment practices, human rights issues, corruption, pollution of the environment, and moral obligations. The paper discusses the ethical issues related to the employment of children in an organization based in a poor country. In order to arrive at a decision, I will outline the decision-making framework that I am going to use as an executive of the organization to decide this case.

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Decision-Making Framework

Child labor is an ethical dilemma that faces many foreign managers working in foreign subsidiaries (Snoeyenbos, 2011). In fact, the economic and cultural differences that exist in many nations are the main causes of this dilemma. In the case I am dealing with, it is obvious that neither alternative of violating the company’s policy on child labor or denying the girl her job is acceptable. However, as the executive of the company, I will evaluate the ethical issue above by following a decision-making framework that will allow me to make an acceptable decision.

Firstly, I will evaluate if the issue raised above is ethical. Being ethical does not necessarily imply following the law, and if something is possible such as relieving the girl of her job, it does not mean it is ethical. I will then use my instincts, and if I find it tough to decide, I will involve other people in the organization to help me. Afterward, I will use their collective knowledge and experience to arrive at a well-thought decision.

Secondly, I will try to get the facts of this case right. I will try to find out what I know about this issue and the unknown facts surrounding the issue. I will also find out the people who will be affected by the decision I will make regarding this issue. In addition, I will consult them and carefully weigh the options available to me. I will then review these options with someone I trust to find out his/her opinion.

Thirdly, I will evaluate the alternative actions that I will have come up with by exploring different ethical approaches. For instance, I will use the utilitarian approach that will help me focus on the activities that result in the best outcome. The right-based approach guides me in choosing the action that respects the rights of everyone involved. The fairness and justice approach will enable me to choose the action that treats everyone involved fairly. In addition, the virtue approach directs me to consider the action that best represents the character and strength I value as a person (Mitchell, 2009).

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Fourthly, I will test the decision I will have arrived at by asking myself whether I am comfortable with it or whether I can comfortably explain it to someone else be it a parent, friend, or stranger. If I feel that I cannot comfortably explain it to someone else, I will reconsider the action. Lastly, I will implement the decision, but take note of the lessons I have learned. If there are any adjustments that are necessary, I will also consider them.

In this case, I will allow the girl to continue working in an organization because I feel that kicking her out in the streets will not be the best way of helping her. However, I will instruct the plant manager not to overwork her and to give her a flexible work schedule to attend to her studies whenever necessary.



Snoeyenbos, M. (2001). Business ethics (3rd ed.). Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Mitchell, C. (2009). A short course in international business ethics combining ethics and profits in global business (3rd Ed.). Petaluma, CA: World Trade Press.

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