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Issues in Business Ethics

Series Editors
Brian Harvey, Manchester Business School, U.K.
Patricia Werhane, University of Virginia, USA.

Editorial Board
Brenda Almond, University of Hull, Hull, U.K.
Antonio Argandona, IESE, Barcelona, Spain
William C. Frederick, University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A.
Georges Enderle, University of Notre Dame, U.S.A.
Norman E . Bowie, University of Minnesota, U.S.A.
Henk van Luijk, Nijenrode, Netherlands School of Business, Breukelen,
The Netherlands
Horst Steinmann, University ofErlangen-Nurnberg, Nürnberg, Germany

The titles published in this series are listed at the end of this volume.


Facing Public Interest

The Ethical Challenge to
Business Policy and
Corporate Communication

Chair of BusinessEthics,
Director of the Institute for BusinessEthics,
University of St. Gallen,
St. Gallen, Switzerland
Institute for BusinessEthics,
University of St. Gallen,
St. Gallen, Switzerland



A C L P . Catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

I S B N 978-0-7923-3634-1
I S B N 978-94-011-0399-2 (eBook)
D O I 10.1007/978-94-011-0399-2

Printed on acid-free paper

A l l Rights Reserved
© 1995 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Originally published by Kluwer Academic Publishers i n 1995
Softcover reprint o f the hardcover 1st edition 1995
No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner.



This volume has grown out of the seventh conference of the European Business
Ethics Network (EBEN) at the University of St. Gallen from September 14-16,
1994. On behalf of EBEN, the Institut for Wirtschaftsethik (Institute for Business
Ethics) at the University of St. Gallen has initiated and organized this international conference together with REs PUBUCA - Association for Responsibility
in Business, a group of Swiss entrepreneurs and managers who commit themselves to promoting an ethically based way of doing business. Three other
academic institutes cooperated in the organizing body of the conference: the
Institute for Social Ethics and the Institute for Research in Business Administration, both at the University of Zurich, and the Institute for Research in Marketing
and Distribution at the University of St. Gallen. Last not least, the conference
was effectively supported by the Swiss Federation of Commerce and Industry,
and by the former President of the Swiss National Assembly, Mr. Ulrich Bremi.
The name of the association «Res Publica» corresponds with the guiding
idea of the EBEN Conference '94 and also of this book: Nowadays, doing
business is never just a «private» matter but in many ways a «public affair.»
Free enterprise has to serve public purposes and to be accountable to the general
public as far as the «public cause» (res publica) is affected by the implications

and outcomes of business activities. In short: Responsible business of today
means Facing Public Interest. Under this general topic, the conference aimed
- first, at lighting up advanced conceptual ideas of how business policy and
<in an ethically and economically sound way, and at discussing such ideas
from different points of view (business leaders, representatives of concerned
citizens' groups, and academics from the fields of political philosophy, social
and business ethics);
secorully, at presenting and analysing practical experiences of companies and
Public Relations consultants with innovative approaches to business policy
and corporate communications in different branches facing a specially
concerned public (chemistry, banking, engineering and car industry, and
others) with respect to ecological or social challenges.



The present volume contains a systematically arranged selection of the most
topical and instructive speeches and papers given at the conference. The selected
contributions have been carefully revised. Our primary thanks go to the authors
for their pleasant cooperation and help to our editorial work.
Moreover, we are indebted to so many persons who gave strong support
in different ways to make possible the event of the conference and of this
volume that we cannot express our gratitude to all of them by personally naming
them. Therefore, we cannot avoid another selection as for some special acknowledgements. Let us begin with thanks to the members of the Programme
Committee: Marie Bohata (Prague), Sheena Carmichael (London), Hans Ruh
(Zurich), Alphons Schnyder (Zurich) as representative of «Res Publica», and

Horst Steinmann (Nuremberg) for their support in the programme development
and paper evaluation. We also say thank you to Henk van Luijk, EBEN chair
(Nijenrode), and the entire EBEN Executive Committee for their help and their
confidence in our - maybe sometimes a little bit wilful - programmatic ideas
and organizational structures.
We address especially cordial thanks to all colleagues and friends of the
organizing institutions who did so much for the whole project, above all to Maria
Luise Hilber, President of «Res Publica» (Zurich), for her great and never-ending
commitment to our common cause, and to Bruno Staffelbach from the Institute
for Research in Business Administration (Zurich) who contributed much to the
evaluation of the papers. In this thanks, we include all the other members of
«Res Publica» and the whole organizing body who contributed with numberless
efforts and activities to the final outcomes. We cannot name every one of them
but we would like to render prominent two persons who took a special responsibility in the local organizing team: Susanne Zajitschek (St. Gallen) who kept
full of humour even in times of «crash management», and last not least Margrit
Ruckstuhl, the secretary of the Institute for Business Ethics who mastered all
the technical and administrative tasks before, during and after the conference
as well as during the busy production of this volume in superior and always
pleasant style.

Peter Ulrich
Charles Sarasin

St. Gallen, May 1995



Business in the Nineties: Facing Public Interest ..................... .
Peter Ulrich

Part I:
Facing Public Interest - Horizons of the Ethical ChaUenge on Business
Clash of Civilizations or World Peace through Religious Peace . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Hans Kung
The Responsibility Enterprises Have Regarding the Big Problems ......... 29
of Our Time
Hans Ruh
Public Expectations Toward Private Industry: Greenpeace's ............. 33
Expectations of Companies with Regard to their Ethical and
Political Responsibilities
Thilo Bode

Part ll:
Business in Response to a Concerned Public - Ethical Foundations
The General Public as the Locus of Ethics in Modem Society ............ 43
Adela Cortina
Business in Response to the Morally Concerned Public ................ 59
Ronald 1.M. 1eurissen
Entrepreneurial Performance and Public Accountability ................ 73
Peter Pratley



Part ill:
Business in Response to a Concerned Public - Corporate Policies
and Guidelines

The Concerned Public: A Management Challenge .................... 97
Andres F. Leuenberger
Business Policy and Corporate Dialogue in the Banking Field . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Walter G. Frehner
Customer Focus in ABB Switzerland's Communication Policy: .......... 113
An Ethical Challenge
Andreas Steiner
Business Policy and Corporate Dialogue: Future Challenges ............ 119
Gerry Wade
Part IV:
Corporate Dialogue and Public Relations - Critical Issues

What Happens if Small Challenges Big? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
Maya Doetzkies
Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Management ................ 137
in Crisis Situations
Walter G. Pielken
Dialogue between Corporations: Ethically Conscious Public ............ 149
Relations Management as Promoter of Industry-wide Agreement
on Ethical Policies
Regine Tiemann and Susanne Zajitschek
A Survey of Moral Conflicts among Norwegian Public ............... 167
Relations Professionals
Johannes Brinkmann and Hans Gudmund Tvedt
Part V:

Ecological Challenges and Business Response - Examples and

Corporate Responsibility and Hazardous Technology: ................. 185
An Example of the Interaction Process Between Industry
and Society
Brian Harvey and Neil D. Stewart



Environmentally Responsible Business Strategy: .................... 199
Packaging Company's Response to a Critical Challenge
Minna Halme
Experiences with Corporate Dialogue: The Case of the ............... 213
Ciba-Geigy Incinerator for Special Waste
Ralph Saemann
The Marketing Dilemma: Marketers Between Consumer ............... 219
Wants and Ecological Requirements
Jost Wirz

Part VI:
Social Challenges and Business Response - Examples and
Are Economic Realities Forcing EC Europe to Abandon .............. 227
Social Democracy in the Workplace? Perspectives from
the Boardroom in Six Member States
David L. Mathison

Family Issues of Employees: The Case of Excel Industries, Inc. . . . . . . . . . 241
- A Conflict with Public Perceptions in
the United States
James S. O'Rourke
Responsibility in Management: An Issue for Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
Development in Major Companies?
Stefan Jepsen and Jiirgen Deller

Contributors ............................................ 267


Peter Ulrich

The relationship between private enterprise and public interest has always fonned
the core of business ethics, explicitly or implicitly. Even those who stick to the
most radical conception of private business will claim that this is just what serves
the public interest best - how else could they justify their position. Any guiding
idea of the business company as a societal institution is a normative idea, rooted
in a comprehensive social and political philosophy. And any possible legal design
of such an institution has to be constituted and legitimized by a public procedure.
Indeed, free enterprise may be «private» in a legal sense, as far as property
rights are concerned. However, most business activities have widespread and
far-reaching impacts upon society as a whole. Obviously, unintended implications
of entrepreneurial decisions - such as increasing unemployment because of
industrial productivity improvement, or environmental pollution resultant from

economic growth - tum business policy more and more into a public issue. This
leads to a growing public exposure of «private» business in our difficult decade. I
Today, companies are exposed to growing societal expectations and at the same
time to harsh economic requirements. Management finds itself in the limelight
of public criticism and in the centre of multiple conflicts of claims and values.
Which of them deserve to be preferred and which to be postponed? Who is
authorized to define the public interest? And how far is business morally obliged
to be engaged in social commitments?


T. DylIick (1989): Management der Umweltbeziehungen. Qffentliche Auseinandersetzungen
als Herausforderung. Wiesbaden: Gabler; R.E. Miles (1987): Managing the Corporate
Social Environment. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

P. Ulrich and C. Sarasin (eds.), Facing Public Interest, 1-8.
© 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers.


To be able to cope with these fundamental challenges, entrepreneurs and
managers of today need an appropriate understanding of the relationship between
the firm and society as a whole, i.e. of the public relations of the company in
a genuine and undiluted sense of the term. The point of departure for obtaining
such an understanding is the basic conception of the company itself


The Company as a Quasi-public Institution

Traditional ideas of the «free enterprise system» are no longer sufficient as
guidelines for an ethically responsible as well as economically sound way of
doing business. If business activities usually have impacts on the quality of life
of many people in various aspects, the company can hardly be considered any
longer as a private arrangement that meets its public obligations only by maximizing its profits. This traditional philosophy of «private enterprise» presupposes
a basic harmony between private and public interest, which is not the case as
far as there are growing conflicts about the priorities of economic, social and
ecological ends. The «invisible hand» (Adam Smith) of the market is not an
adequate guarantor for fair and just solutions to societal conflicts of values,
because purchasing power, not moral reasons, decides about the socioeconomic
results of the «market game.»
Moreover, the free market system does not exist for its own purposes only;
it has to be embedded in the basic norms and rules of a free and democratic
society and to operate in the service of this society. Freedom of trade is not
a natural right of business but founded on the moral and legal constitution of
society. Accordingly, business depends on its public legitimation and acceptance.
There is no such thing as «free enterprise» without responsibility and accountability to the community. So, «private» business is only legitimate and granted
within a basic consensus by all citizens about the normative «rules of the game,»
i.e. the political framework of the market system. And this is on no account
a politically «leftist» vision but corresponds to an essential principle of a free
society as such, because free citizens do not have to put up with interferences
in their private lives by others as long as they have not approved of them, based
on a fair contract or agreement.
As a result, today's company or corporation has to be understood as a quasipublic institution2 which is
- expected to create values of different kinds according to a variety of societal
needs (as its public junction), and


P. Ulrich (1977): Die GrossunternehmWlg als quasi-o.ffentliche Institution. Stuttgart:


obliged to be responsible and accountable not only to its owners but to the
general public as well (as the way of its public legitimation).
This is why business policy cannot truly be judged socially responsible as long
as it «responds» only to market requirements but not to moral questions of the
concerned public. Corporate social responsibility cannot be separated from public
responsiveness, i.e. the willingness of the management to give good reasons
to all those affected by the company's decisions. Yet the question is: which are
good reasons in an ethical sense?


The General Public as the ultimate «Locus of Morality» for Business

Without doubt, the public responsiveness of the business company and, as a
result, its credibility and reputation have become a prerequisite as essential for
its long-term success as the cleverness of its market strategies. However, what
matters from an ethical point of view is to surmount a conventional management
view of the public as simply another - and mostly irksome! - stakeholder of
the company, beside other parties concerned, as owners and employees, customers and suppliers. Stakeholders usually defend only their particular interests,
whereas the role ofthe general public is quite a different one. It has to be seen
as the figurative place where, in principle, it is possible to find out what the
general interest really is. In a modem and democratic society of free citizens,
there is no other moral authority than the «reasoning public» itself, as Kant3

called it. In other words: The unlimited forum of the general public is the locus
of morality where free and mature citizens come together to argue about fair
rules and just standards of their living together. 4
This Kantian idea of the public use of reason is, of course, very different
from the common Hobbesian perspective of politics as a mere procedure of
bargaining for a mutually advantageous contract between all interested parties. 5
In this latter view, the individuals or groups act in a strictly strategic way to



I. Kant (1783): Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Autkliirung?, in: Immanuel Kant Werkausgabe (1968), Vol. XI. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 53-61.
P. UlrichlU. Thielemann (1992): Ethik und Erfolg. BernlStuttgartlVienna: Haupt, 161ff.
The Hobbesian view, originated by Thomas Hobbes in his famous Leviathan (1651), forms
nowadays the paradigm of neoclassical economics and Institutional Economics, whose
axiomatic base is methodological individualism. The strictest elaboration of that (neoliberal)
paradigm of pure economic rationality has been achieved by 1.M. Buchanan (1975): The
Limits of Liberty. Between Anarchy and Leviathan, Chicago/London, and in his later books.
For a detailed critique of this way of politico-economic thinking cf. P. Ulrich (1995): Die
Zukunft der Marktwirtschaft: neoliberaler oder ordoliberaler Weg? Eine wirtschaftsethische
Perspektive. Archiv for Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, 81, Beiheft 62.


maximize their self-interests, whereas the ideal of the <mutual respect for the inviolable moral rights and duties of all persons, without
regard to their bargaining power or economic resources.

Thus, the notion of the general public as a locus of morality brings into
focus an advanced ethical point of view, reviving the philosophical tradition
of republicanism as it has been elaborated again by Immanuel Kant and his
scholars. 6 The core idea of republican philosophy is that politics has to be considered as res publica, as a matter of free citizens' public commitment in a spirit
of co-responsibility for the protection of human and civil rights, social justice
and the common weal. The unbiased, undistorted and unlimited «pUblicity»
(Kant) of all politically relevant activities is recognized as a conditio sine qua
non, an indispensable precondition of modem society.
Of course, this is - philosophically spoken - just a regulative principle and,
as such, not at all a statement of factual politics but rather a criterion for ethical
criticism against the usual political proceedings, which are nowadays frequently
dominated by an excess of special interests' lobbyism, far from any republican
ethos ... All the more, it is important that the «reasoning public» takes the
counterpart of exerting a certain moral pressure on all agents to care about the
legitimacy of their acitivities. Its peculiar power consists in nothing else than
moral reasoning. Again it was Kant who in his famous essay «Beantwortung
der Frage: Was ist AufkUirung?» (<«It is difficult for any single person to work his or her way out of the immaturity that has nearly become our nature ... But it is more likely that a
public enlightens itself. Indeed, this is almost inevitable if only the liberty
(of public reasoning, P.U.) is granted.»7


Corporate Communications as Corporate Dialogue

Now, what does that mean for business policy? The crucial point is, of course,
the growing public relevance of the corporation as outlined above. Consequently,
the «reasoning public» also proves to be the ultimate «locus of morality» for



Kant (1795): Zum ewigen Frieden, in: Werkausgabe (1968),Vol. XI, 191-251, especially
Kant (1783), Werkausgabe (1968), Vol. XI, 54 (own transl., P.U.).


business as well as for any other good citizen. 8 Therefore, managers should not
look any longer at the public, especially at those citizens who are concerned
about business' impacts on the «res publica,» as a mere stakeholder with special
interests that have or have not to be taken into account, just according to cost
and benefits for the company itself - this conventional stakeholder model is
exactly based on the Hobbesian concept of a purely strategic way of bargaining
and contracting. Instead, managers should learn to recognize concerned citizens
as indispensable partners to ensure the legitimacy of their business activities.
After all, concerned citizens who advance good moral reasons for or against
a business policy or strategy that is under consideration might tum out be true
friends who can help the managers to become fully aware of their moral responsibilities and thereby to preserve the company's public credibility.
This slight change of perspective will result in a major revision of the appropriate approach to Public Relations and Corporate Communications towards
an ethically enlightened conception of corporate dialogue. 9 By the way, this
guiding idea corresponds with the ethics of discourse, which represents a
continuation of Kantian ethics of practical reason after the «language-pragmatic»
turn in practical philosophy. 10
Here is not the place to start a discussion about the philosophical foundations
of discursive ethics and its importance for economic thinking. I I Let's take it immediately to the essential point concerning our common social behaviour: As
long as we look at other people who are concerned about our affairs only in
a strategic way, we will probably perceive them as our enemies because their

public criticism might damage the success of our private plans and, therefore,
we will try to reduce that criticism to silence, like an inconvenient noise or a
false alarm that, of course, we do not appreciate at all. Unlike that, we will look
in a completely different way at the criticism by good friends of ours, since





P. Ulrich (1993): Wirtschaftsethik als Beitrag zur Bildung mtindiger Wirtschaftsbtirger.
Zur Frage nach dem H. SteinmannlA.ZerfaB (1993): Corporate Dialogue - a new perspective for Public
Relations. Business Ethics - A Europan Review, 2, 58-63. For the general idea of an
ethically based corporate dialogue cf. P. Ulrich (1981): Wirtschaftsethik und U ntemehmungsverfassung: Das Prinzip des unternehmungspolitischen Dialogs, in: H. Ulrich (ed.):
Management-Philosophie for die ZukunJt, Bern/Stuttgart: Haupt, 57-75; P. Ulrich (183):
Konsensus-Management: Die zweite Dimension rationaler Unternehmensfiihrung. BetriebswirtschaJtliche Forschung und Praxis, 35, 70-84.
K.-O. Apel (1973): Transformation der Philosophie, Vol. 2: Das Apriori der KommunikationsgemeinschaJt. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; K.-O. Apel (1988): Diskurs und Verantwortung.
Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; 1. Habermas (1983): Moralbewusstsein und kommunikatives Bandeln.
Frankfurt: Suhrkamp; J. Habermas (1991): Erlauterungen zur Diskursethik. Frankfurt:
P. Ulrich (1986): Transformation der 6konomischen Vernunft. Bern/Stuttgart/Vienna: Haupt.
3rd. rev. edition 1993.


we have probably learnt from earlier experience that their critical questions or
comments, though not always quite comfortable for us, can be stimulating for
making up our mind and finally taking the right decisions.
The same is true for business policy and its relationship to a concerned
public. For that reason, Corporate Communications obtain a new and significant
function: They are no longer only a strategy of one-way communication from
the company's «speaker» to the public in order to put the firm's activities in
the best light, as it was the purpose of conventional PR. Now, corporate communications become a conceptual frame for undertaking a real dialogue between
the company and its concerned «friends» in the general public - for the purpose
that both sides of this dialogue can learn much about the problems and chances
of ethically based management. In the end, this might open a responsible as
well as practicable way of/acing up to public interest in business policy.


An Outline of tbe Present Volume

Part I of the book will take into consideration some essential dimensions of
the ethical challenge on today's business by public issues. First, the internationally known ecumenical theologian Hans Kiing, University of Tiibingen, argues
for his courageous project of a minimal «world ethic» between all cultures and
religions on earth - he proposes, so to speak, an urgent antidote against the
expanding cultural and ethical relativism, which is lastly incompatible with the
basic moral ideas of humanity. Hans Ruh, theologian and social ethicist at the
University of Zurich, works out the major human and social problems of our
time and what they mean as a fundamental challenge of business. Thilo Bode,
Executive Director of Greenpeace Germany, goes more in details with regard
to the ecological challenge and defines an advanced mental attitude of managers
to the environmentally concerned public.
In Part II, three academic teachers of political and/or business ethics throw
a light on the ethical foundations of a sound relationship beween business and

the concerned public. Adela Cortina, ethicist and political philosopher at
Valencia, elaborates the role of the general public outlined above as the decisive
locus of morality in modem society in general and its meaning for business
ethics in particular. She explains the Kantian roots of the regulative idea of «the
public use of reason» and discusses its interpretations by John Rawls and Jiirgen
Habermas. Then, Ronald Jeurissen, Tilburg University, gives a clear survey
of three different social philosophies of business and the corresponding perspectives of the relationship between corporate social responsibility and the public.
He argues for an «interpenetration view of the business-society relationship»
and shows its systematic consequences for a responsible «business community.»


As a perfect completion of this part, Peter Pratley from the University of
Groningen draws our attention to the strategic market activities as the field where
business responsibility must ultimately find its concrete manifestation. He exemplifies his perspective of corporate moral commitment and accountability
before the public on the basis of the Total Quality Management concept.
In Part III, three top managers of three Swiss-based multinational corporations respond to the public challenge from inside the boardroom, supported by
a former British top manager who has now specialized in advising his previous
colleagues with respect to corporate community relations. First, Andres F.
Leuenberger, Deputy Chairman of Roche and at the same time President of the
Swiss Federation of Commerce and Industry, makes clear that industry today
has recognized public acceptance as a prerequisite vital for the credibility of
any industrial acitivity; he affirms an open two-way communication between
industry and the concerned public. Walter G. Frehner, Chairman of the Swiss
Bank Corporation, agrees with that and presents four basic principles guiding
the concept of «corporate dialogue» in SBC's business policy. Andreas Steiner,
member of the executive committee and CEO of a major division of Asea Brown
Bovery Switzerland, underlines the ethical aspects of ABB's «Customer Focus»
philosophy and its corresponding communication policy. Finally, Gerry Wade,

Public Affairs management counsellor and former head of Public Affairs at IBM
(U.K.), deals with Corporate Community Involvement as one of the great
challenges in the near future. He discusses whether ethics has a «constituency»
among the corporation's stakeholders and how to make ethics a strong issue
in the boardroom.
Part IV brings into focus the consequences of the idea of corporate dialogue
for an advanced philosophy of Public Relations and Corporate Communications
and considers its bearing under several aspects. Maya Doetzkies, representative
of the Berne Declaration, a civil action group concerned with the behaviour of
multinational corporations in developing countries, points at the rhetorical use
of language in the business world and argues for the importance of a critique
of these business rhetorics from a holistic and moral point of view as a basic
task of concerned citizens' groups; otherwise an unbiased public reasoning cannot
take place. Walter G. Pielken, President of an international consulting group
specialized in Corporate Communications, draws from his rich experiences with
the «handling» of the critical public and the media by companies in crisis situations; his conclusions strongly support the advantages of an ethically sound
approach to corporate dialogue. Regine Tiemann and Susanne Zajitschek, both
doctoral students in the field of business ethics, take up discursive ethics as a
basic paradigm for responsible Public Relations and throw a light on the
especially important dialogue between corporations in order to promote industrywide ethical standards and policies. Finally, Johannes Brinkmann from the
Norwegian School of Management and Hans Gudmund Tvedt, Public Relations


Consultant at Burson-Marsteller, present fresh empirical results of a pilot survey
that tried to find typical moral conflicts of PR professionals as well as their
moral self-conception, which is obviously essential as a basis to put responsible
PR conceptions into practice.
The two remaining parts of the book present concrete examples and experiences with ethical challenges in different branches and fields. Part V concentrates on the ecological challenge. Brian Harvey and Neil D. Stewart, both

from Manchester Business School, focus on the highly topical problems of
corporate dialogue and responsibility in a case of «hazardous technology» and
develop five general principles for responsible management in this area. Minna
Halme, University of Tampere, examines how a Finnish company in the paper
and packaging industry mastered the environmental challenge and the public
scrutiny by way of a profound change of its business strategy and communication
policy. Ralph Saemann, former member of the executive board ofCiba-Geigy
and now Vice Chairman of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, gives
a first-hand report on the pioneer experiences with corporate dialogue concerning
the project of Ciba's newly erected incinerator for special waste in Basel. Jost
Wirz, president of a success full Advertising and Public Relations group, presents
his professional ethics regarding the field of tensions between consumer expectations and ecological requirements, which is certainly a key-point in order to
move ahead towards a sustainable market economy.
Part VI turns to social challenges in the external as well as the internal
relations of the company. David Mathison, Loyola Marymount University,
discusses the results of his interviews with top executives representing six major
European aircraft manufacturers about the question whether European companies,
facing global competition, can preserve or have to abandon traditional social
democratic values in the workplace. James S. O'Rourke, University of Notre
Dame, analyses the case of Excel Industries Inc., a supplier to the car industry,
dealing with community relations and corporate communications in a difficult
situation when the company's child-care center had to be closed. Last not least,
Jilrgen Deller, Manager of Corporate Executive Management Development at
Daimler-Benz, and Stefan Jepsen from the Institute for Economic and Social
Ethics in Rostock, present a pilot project at Daimler-Benz concerning the
question of how moral responsibility can finally become an integral and central
part in the career development of managers and in the overall personnel policy
of a corporation.




Hans Kung

It is a pleasure and an honour to give the opening address at such an important

congress of the European Business Ethics Network. Having said that, I have
to admit that this does not come easy to me at the present moment, right after
the international conference on global population in Cairo. Because here I stand
as a Catholic theologian, being asked to speak about world politics and world
ethos, but feeling compromised by the presentation of religion during just this
world conference. So, unfortunately, I cannot avoid a critical positioning.


World Ethos - The Opposite of Church Moralism

Who, like I am, is concerned about the credibility of especially the Catholic
church, cannot hide their shame when facing the Vatican's manoeuvres before

and during the conference in Cairo:
- the Vatican played down the importance of the globally urgent question of
population explosion in an incomprehensible way;
- that the Vatican - having only observer status at the UN - blocked a whole
conference for five days and turned it into a sterile debate on abortion;
- that the Vatican wanted to push through a rigoristic, one-sided point of view
concerning abortion that is unacceptable even within its own church;
- that even after the conference the Vatican dismisses just that method as immoral that could prevent abortion most effectively, namely contraceptive devices.
Is this supposed to be the new world ethos? No, this is only old church
moralism. Instead of distinguishing oneself in the middle of such a mass
agglomeration as Cairo with its approx. 15 million people through positive concepts of damming in the catastrophic population explosion, the conference was
intentionally pushed into the morally shady twilight. For many delegates, the

P. Ulrich and C. Sarasin (eds.). Facing Public interest. 11-27.
© 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers.



argumentation of the papal delegates bordered on demagogy and brainwashing
of the people. Even when, after five days of discussions, the conference agreed
on a reasonable draft of a compromise for the EU which presented abortion
as an unsuitable method for family planning (and rightly so), the Vatican still
wasn't satisfied, but unable to block the conference any further. Worried over
the negative image and to veil its defeat, the Vatican formally agreed to the
paper in parts - different from the conference on population in Budapest 20
years ago and from the one in Mexico 10 years ago, but it still stuck unteachably

to its anachronistic views.
But the following question is more important: Why was the Vatican unable
to prevail? The factors are:
- The decision-making authorities of the UN, the US and of the EU were not
- The sanctimonious purposive alliance between the Vatican and the Islamic
world did not come off. The great Islamic nations like Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran
and Egypt wouldn't let themselves be put to the Vatican's carriage.
- Despite worldwide agitation, the Vatican diplomacy won over only a few
small Latin American countries and Muslim states, but not the big countries
like Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
- Contrary to what had been expected in Rome, Catholic women ofthe various
delegations did not support the Pope.
- Long before, the Pope had lost the battle over sexual morals in his own
But how is it possible that a single man can think of having to oppose the
whole world, as his press spokesman, the Opus Dei-member Joaquin NavarroValls, wrote in the Wall street Journal (1.9.l992): though «largely isolated and
alone,» but «courageous enough to be firm where everybody else makes compromises about the essential dignity of man.» How can one man conceive of
the idea that he alone knows what truth, morals and the «essential dignity» of
man are, especially with regard to such difficult questions as contraception and
The real reason for such a conflict and for the defeat of the Vatican is the
Roman system itself: this absolutist medieval system, grown more inflexible
through Reformation and Counter-Reformation finally pushed itself into a corner
because of its permanent fight against the modern age. After the fall of Soviet
communism, this system has become the only dictatorial system in the Western
world, shaped by a specifically Roman moralism, dogmatism and authoritarianism.
But a Catholic theologian, having just spent a number of years to formulate
a critical evaluation of twenty centuries of Christianity, knows what he is talking
about: This Roman system with its monopoly on truth and morals theologically

stands on feet of clay! The Pope's exorbitant teaching authority cannot be justi-


fied through Biblical origins nor through the old Catholic tradition. And a Pope
who infallibly and unteachably means to keep this authority up against the majority of his own Catholic people and, finally, against the global community
itselfwill remain «largely isolated and alone,» will, in fact, become an originator
of schisms, will become a source for suspicion and anti-Catholic feelings inside
many non-Christian churches, will become a perpetual burden and block for
many of the global community's most urgently issues.
But let's be done with these critical, though unfortunately necessary, reflexions! If I am to present my own issues here in a credible way, I had to place
myself outside of this moralising abuse of religious authority that has devastating
consequences not only for the image of the Catholic church but for that of all
religions in the world. However, criticizing the Vatican's policy does not at
all justifY the world of politics in general. So now to:



We all know that in the course of the French Revolution, the wars ofthe princes
became wars of the nations. And with the end of modernity the wars of the
nations became wars of the ideologies. Just consider:
- 1918 had already offered our century afirst opportunity to replace the world
of nationalistic modernity which had collapsed with the First World War with
a new more peaceful world order. However, this was prevented by the ideologies
of Fascism, Communism, National Socialism and Japanism, all of which had
their foundations in modernity. In retrospect they proved catastrophic false
developments even for their supporters and set the whole world back by decades.

Instead of a new world order there was world chaos.
- Then in 1945 the second opportunity for a new world order was missed (because of the obstruction caused by the Stalinist Soviet Union). Instead of a new
world order there was a division of the world.
- In 1989 all these reactionary ideologies (including that of a self-righteous
anti-Communism) came to an end; the age of the great ideologies seems to be
over. Again a new world order was propagated, though nothing was done towards realizing it. The wars (the Gulf War followed by the war in the Balkans)
brought people back to earth. So has this third opportunity already been wasted?
Instead of a new world order do we now have a new world disorder?
Some say that a new world disorder can be avoided provided that we do
not act in an «idealistic» way. F or world order comes about only through a «real
politics» which coolly calculates and implements national interests, unhampered
by all too many «moral feelings.» Thus the undoubtedly knowledgable and
skilled politician and political theorist Henry Kissinger, who has already practised


such «real politics» for many years and is now eloquently propagating them
again in his most recent book, Diplomacy.1 Indeed this former Security Adviser
and Secretary of State to President Nixon does not admire American politicians
like Jefferson and Franklin, who aimed at a balance of ideals and interests, as
much as European power politicians like Richelieu, Metternich and Bismarck.
Kissinger ironically remarks: «No other nation (than the United States) has ever
based its claim to international leadership on its altruism.»2 Moreover President
Nixon, whom he advised, is praised as the first «realistic» president since
Theodore Roosevelt (the main representative of American expansionist policy!),
while even now derogatory remarks are made about the peace movement against
the Vietnam war.
But has not the «real politics» practised by all the historical figures mentioned above also long faded into the twilight? At any rate, Nixon's «real
politics» led not only to a long overdue openness towards China but also to

the prolongation of the Vietnam War by four years (at the cost of20,492 American and around 160,000 South Vietnamese lives) and to its extension to
Cambodia (with countless deaths). 3 The consequence was increasingly vigorous
public protests, and paranoia in the White House - ending in Watergate and
Nixon's impeachment... So we can follow Walter Isaacson, Kissinger's critical
biographer, when on the one hand he emphasizes his «respect» for Kissinger's
«brilliance as an analyst» but on the other expresses his «reservations» about
the «lower priority» which Kissinger attaches to the «values» which have made
the American democracy such a powerful international force. 4 By Kissinger's
new book Isaacson sees his conclusive evaluation of Kissinger's «Realpolitik»
«Kissinger's power-oriented realism and focus on national interests faltered
because it was too dismissive of the role of morality The secret bombing
and then invasion of Cambodia, the Christmas bombing of Hanoi, the destabilization of Chile - these and other brutal actions betrayed a callous
attitude toward what Americans like to believe is the historic foundation
of their foreign policy: a respect for human rights, international law,
democracy, and other idealistic values. The setbacks Kissinger encountered
as a statesman, and the antagonism he engendered as a person, stemmed
from the perceived amorality of his geopolitical calculations. - Kissinger's




Kissinger, H. (1994): Diplomacy. New York.
Kissinger (1994).
Sheehan, N. (1994): Nixon's 'Peace' Strategy had a Heavy Price in Blood. International
Herald Tribune, 30 April; Lewis, A. (1994): 20492 Reasons Kissinger Was Wrong. International Herald Tribune, 7 June.

Isaacson, W. (1994): How the World Works. Time Magazine, 2 May.


approach led to a backlash against detente; the national mood swung toward
both the moralism of Jimmy Carter and the ideological fervor of Ronald
Reagan. As a result, not unlike Metternich, Kissinger's legacy turned out
to be one of brilliance more than solidity, of masterful structures built of
bricks that were made without straw.»5
But has not the American democracy in particular shown that it has always
combined the pursuit of national interests with the propagation of values and
ideals? Has American foreign policy ever been completely detached from moral
values and ideals which are ultimately anchored in religion? So need interests
and ideals necessarily be opposites? Indeed, it is in the interest of a realistic
policy for this real world to find through ideas and visions a way out of the
crises which it has itself produced. This is valid also for the Balkans, where
the moral tragedy of the two-tongued Western «Realpolitik» severely shook
the political credibility of the EU, the USA and the United Nations, a policy
which is unnecessarily prolonging the suffering of hundreds of thousands of
people. But will not wars also be inevitable in the future?


War of Civilizations?

Certainly, but the wars in a new world epoch will no longer be wars of ideologies, but primarily wars of civilizations. This at any rate is the thesis of the
Director of the Institute of Strategic Studies at Harvard University, Samuel P.
Huntington, which is being much discussed at present. It is developed in his
striking article «The Clash ofCivilizations?»6 (By civilizations Huntington, following Arnold Toynbee,1 understands the «cultural groupings» which extend

beyond regions and nations. These are defined both by the objective elements
of language, history, religion, customs and institutions and by the subjective
self-identification of men and women). According to Huntington there are today
eight «civilizations» (with possible sub-civilizations): Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and African. So in the
future we are to expect political, economic and military conflicts, say, between
Islamic civilization and the West or Confucian Asiatic civilization and the West,
possibly combined with an «Islamic-Confucian connection» of the kind that
can, already be seen in the constant flow of weapons from China and North



Isaacson, W.lKissinger, A. (1992): Biography. New York, 766.
Huntington, S.P. (1993a): The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs, 72, 22-49.
Toynbee, A.: The Study of History. Yols. I-XII, Oxford 1934-61.


Korea to the Middle East. «The next world war, if there is one, will be a war
between civilizations.»8
In the discussion9 which has taken place so far, especially in America, Huntington has been accused of interpreting political and economic conflicts a priori
as ethnic and cultural conflicts and giving them a religious charge (as the un-religious Saddam Hussein attempted retrospectively to do in the Gulf War, adopting
a cynical tactic). Here a distinction must be made: of course most conflicts, from
Berg Karabach through the Gulf War and Bosnia to Kashmir, are not primarily
about civilization and religion but about territories, raw materials, trade and
money, in other words are for economic, political and military interests. But
Huntington is right: the ethnic and religious rivalries form the constant underlying structures for territorial disputes, political interests and economic competition, structures by which political, economic and military conflicts can be

justified, inspired and intensified at any time. So, while the great civilizations
do not necessarily seem to me to be the dominant paradigm for the political
controversies of the new world epoch, which Huntington thinks has replaced
the Cold War paradigm and the First-Second-Third World scheme, it is the
deeper cultural dimension to all antagonisms and conflicts between peoples
which are always there and are in no way to be neglected.
But when it comes to this cultural dimension, we would do better to begin
from the great religions (and their different paradigms) instead offrom civilizations, which are often difficult to define. In fact even Huntington is using
the religions to define civilizations when he speaks of an Islamic, Hindu,
Confucian or Slavic-Orthodox civilization. But can one separate Orthodox
Christianity as a distinctive civilization from «Western» Christianity, as Toynbee
already did? And can one distinguish Western North American and Latin
American civilization so sharply? However, Huntington must be said to be right
on two decisive points:
- As Toynbee already noted, contrary to all superficial politicians and Political
theorists, who overlook the depth-dimension in world political conflicts, the
religions are to be given a fundamental role in world politics. 1O
- Religions are not growing (as Toynbee thought) into a single unitary religion
with Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist elements in the service of a single
human society. It is much more realistic also to take into account their potential
for conflict as rivals: «Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in



Huntington (l993a), 39.
Cf. the critical responses to Huntington by Ajami, F.lBartley, R.L.lBinyan, L./Kirkpatrick,
J .1lMahbubani, K. (1993), Foreign Affairs, 72, No.4 (September/October) and Huntington's

(1993b) Response, No.5 (November/December), 186-94.
Huntington (I993b), 191f., 194.