Current Event- Foxconn Essay
Having a business in the electronic industry is difficult because this industry is very competitive. To stay at the same level as other competitors or rise above, companies have to be more innovative and efficient. Companies are often under pressure to find the lowest-cost providers, and typically are free to look globally. This is where outsourcing and offshoring comes into effect, along with the difficulty in finding balance in the corporation when dealing with different societies and their culture. In order to stay at the same level as other companies or rise above, Apple Inc. outsourced and offshored its jobs to many countries. This article shows that Apple, being a multination corporation (MNC), has a blend of polycentric and regio-centric predisposition management strategies, dealing with human rights and labor practices. Apple at first made management decisions that were tailored to suit the culture, in this case, China; however, over the years, Apple has been scrutinized for their human rights and labor practices due to offshoring and outsourcing of jobs. In 2010 there were numerous amounts of suicides that occurred within the factories that Apple outsourced its jobs to.
These suicides were due to bad working and living conditions, which stemmed from 60 hour work weeks, low pay, abuse on the job and countless other reasons. Since Apple subcontracted their business to other companies, in this case Foxconn in China, Foxconn can manage their facility the way they want to, to a certain extent. There are many reasons as to why there have been many suicides at these overseas factories. However, one major contributing factor to the numerous suicides is the abuse that workers deal with. It has been reported that managers of Foxconn have been known to abuse workers for mistakes or missing deadlines. According to Trompeanaars’ cultural dimensions, this abuse could be due to China being a particularistic culture, in which conflicts can arise when doing business with another country which has a universalistic culture. And this is where the obligations of Apple being a MNC comes into play.
Does Apple adopt the regulations of the U.S. or those in China? It seems to me that Apple decides to do some of both. Since Apple has many suppliers in different countries, it is only fitting to believe that Apple is changing its’ management decisions, concentrating on human rights and labor practices, towards region-centric strategies for profitability and public acceptance. Some of the more difficult to understand or solve ethical problems occur as corporations do business in other societies where ethical standards differ from those at home. This article also ties into corporate social responsibility (CSR). As a response to the many suicides in 2010, Apple created the Supplier Responsibility Progress Report to help drive the change that needed to occur in the ethical aspect of the company.
This report consisted of: driving change, empowering employees, protecting foreign contract workers, preventing underage labor, monitoring compliance (through audits), responding to suicides, holding suppliers accountable, and moving forward. To further enhance the company’s CSR, in March, Apple and its Foxconn supplier reached an agreement to increase wages from 16 to 25 percent, and to improve working conditions for the 1.2 million workers assembling Apple products. Since Apple Inc has outsourced and offshored the business to other companies, it continues to deal with ethical issues the most.
Although Apple has created and implemented policies to bring more balance between the different societies and cultures, there will still be issues because there is no universally adopted standard for what is acceptable behavior. However, since Apple is considered a top leader in the electronic industry, implementation of improved labor practices and human rights can help other western companies to bring about change; as well as how they do business in not only China, but other countries where there are difficulties in dealing with different societies and cultures.
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