It was argued long ago by Greek historian Herodotus that there are no universal ethics (Ishay, 2008). The historian argued that different cultures had different perceptions about what is acceptable behavior and what rights people should be granted. Herodotus illustrates this argument by comparing burial rituals that were used by two different cultures. One culture believed that cremation was appropriate based on their beliefs while the other involved some form of cannibalism in their rituals to preserve the souls of the fallen. The historian approached individuals from the first culture asking them if they would consider eating their following family members and they responded with disgust. He then asked the individuals from the more primitive culture whether they would consider burning their deceased and they also responded with disgust. Herodotus was thus convinced that ethics were relative in nature and based on the cultural beliefs that a society possessed.
The study and understanding of ethics have been through a thorough process of evolution since there origin. As an offshoot of this evolution a subsidiary division of ethical analysis is the formation of human rights. Human rights are roughly defined to be the most basic and fundamental rights that should be provided to individuals a crossed the globe simply because of the fact that they belong to the human species. This basically represents the floor or lowest level of ethical ideas that should be applied to all humans no matter the circumstance. Although this represents a concept that many people and nations fully support, there lacks a consensus or any form of standardization of exactly what these rights entail and are definitely open the interpretation. However, with the world continuously moving in the direction of forming more of a global village through the effects of globalization of economic and social systems, the idealized concept of human rights may have a significantly enhanced opportunity to become more salient and tangible. This paper will evaluate the effects of globalization along with the challenges and opportunities its presents for the human rights movement.
Overview of Human Rights
Human rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being (Sepulveda, et al., 2004). By inalienable it considered to be nondiscriminatory in the sense that any human must be granted these rights despite race, religious affiliation, ideology, or any other group which people can be placed into. Human rights also do not make any provisions for the denial of these rights based on behavioral issues such as whether or not the person could be considered a criminal or emotionally or psychological disturbed. Therefore if a person ascribes to the concept of human rights then they are in agreement that they are to apply these rights to all people without regard to any other consideration. The very fact that an individual is a human being automatically entitles them to at least there basic human rights.
What constitutes a human right is somewhat less certain than to whom they should be applied to. There have been many centuries of political and philosophical debate in regard to what rights an individual is born with. For example, the United States' constitution states that individuals are born with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which were considered to be self-evident. Despite so many similar claims that are found in a multitude of various constitutions worldwide, the statements of such only represent one stage in the development of human rights. For example, though the claim that individuals are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are also based on centuries of philosophical debate and mark a significant step toward creating a civil society, the notions of such terms as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rather vague and subjective concepts. Therefore these terms represent a substantial development in regards to the evolution of human rights yet they, by themselves, only represent abstractions that have a limited amount of pragmatic value.
The next evolutionary milestone in the development of a more specific set of human rights was undoubtedly the Declaration of Human Rights which was constructed by the United Nations in 1948 after World War II (Kunz, 1949). There are two important aspects inherent in this approach that separates human rights from earlier attempts at establishing a set of rights for humankind. The first aspect is that the Declaration of Human Rights is more specific than other attempts at such a social agreement. The next unique feature of this agreement is that entails an international scope that includes a plethora of participants. Although the nature of the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights (UDHR) does not represent a legally binding document in which the United Nations can take action against any human rights violators, it does hold significance as a standard that many nations aspire to.
There are two main categories of human rights included in the UDHR (United Nations, 2012). The first category is composed of civil and political rights. These rights are included in articles three to twenty one in the declaration and cover items such as freedom from slavery, right to a fair trial, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The next sets of human rights included in the second category are composed of economic, social, and cultural rights. This include such items as the right to work, the right to have leisure and holiday time, the right to an education, and the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community. Although there are many critics to the inclusion of the two separate categories of rights, the idea centers around the fact that to have a fulfilled and purposeful life then both categories of rights are required.
Overview of Globalization
Globalization has become a ubiquitously used word in the last few decades. Much of this trend is centered on international trade, multinational corporations, and the technologically driven increases in access to people and markets. As a result of globalization, many multi-national corporations (MNCs) have helped to spur a level of homogenization throughout there international partners and foreign operations. When an international company expands into a new market then there is also a mix of cultures that occurs in the organization. Therefore, even though the trend has been primarily focused around business activities it also has had many other ramifications as well in regards to social and political norms.
The globalization trend has worked to create a single global market is resulting in many international markets having to adapt their own individual business operational preferences in favor of more global practices that can transcend cultural differences. It is often the case that the revised business practices which have resulted from globalization are more efficient. They result in international business processes which better suited to a global marketplace. Such efficiencies can be gained through technological developments, such as the implementation of advanced software packages that can effectively monitor business functions throughout the world. Other processes such as staffing and human resources training programs can also benefit from standardization through the implementation of the global set of best practices in many cases. However, many problems can emerge that serve as obstacles to globalized standardization that prevent such systems from being effective in practice.
Much research has been conducted in order to try to understand the factors that surround business process redesign in regards to cultural preferences because it often represents a critical success factor for international businesses. One such example that affects an ability to compete in the international arena is how well knowledge transfers in an organization across international borders. International organizations that can transfer knowledge more efficiently a crossed borders are more likely to be profitable than those who have poorer knowledge transfer capabilities are at a disadvantage in globalized markets. One study has identified that the absorptive capacity of knowledge transfer is correlated with the employees' abilities and willingness to learn in these situations (Minbaeva, et al., 2003).
Such evidence would suggest that the organizational culture of the subsidiary should be an important consideration for international expansions that occur through acquisitions. It is reasonable to suspect that this is one of the more important factors that are often overlooked. However, employee skill sets are relatively easier to control than the broader organizational culture as employees can be replaced or trained if their skills are not suited for their responsibilities. Yet the organizational culture development in organizations often takes on a life of its own and is less controllable. Furthermore, the culture within the subsidiary can dictate whether or not international standardization is possible.
Knowledge transfer isn't necessarily limited to a transfer from the parent company to the international subsidiary. Business knowledge can also pass from the subsidiary to the parent company. In this sense…