Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Part 1: Introduction

This article was originally published in the book International Marketing by Professor Michael R. Czinkota and Professor Ilkka A. Ronkainen in Georgetown University 2010.

International marketing has never been more important or more powerful. World trade has increased exponentially in the past several decades. The rapid expansion of globalization has been driven by the inclusion of billions of new customers and new competitors in the world marketplace from countries like China, India, and the former Soviet Union, along with revolutionary improvements in communications and transportation, and further economic liberalization. Dramatic growth in disposable income in emerging markets and increasing access to a broad array of media channels allow new audiences much greater access to the many benefits that international marketers offer for a better quality of life.

Yet there are also fears and challenges emanating from the field and its activities. Just like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces and has come to embody the notion of contradiction to modern thinkers, international marketing brings both good and bad to the global marketplace. Exploitation of factory workers by global apparel and footwear marketers in previous decades, or by electronics and computer brands more recently, exemplifies the negative consequences of globalization. While there are operations and management dimensions involved as well, this negative impact is primarily a marketing issue because this discipline interacts closely with customers and suppliers. Unethical and inappropriate actions carry many risks such as negative brand publicity.

The role of global businesses and marketers in the financial crises that began in 2008 has led to public anger and increased scrutiny by society, particularly those who experienced great hardships, as shown in    The international Marketplace 17. 1. Not all markets experienced serious economic setbacks, but some of the poorer nations in the world were profoundly impacted. In its October 2011 “Note on Financial Reform,” the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace reported,

The costs are extremely onerous for millions in the developed countries, but also and above all for billions in the developing ones. In countries and areas where the most elementary goods like health, food and shelter are still lacking, more than a billion people are forced to survive on an average income of less than a dollar a day. Global economic well-being, traditionally measured by national income and also by levels of capacities, grew during the second half of the twentieth century, to an extent and with a speed never experienced in the history of humankind.

But the inequalities within and between various countries have also grown significantly. While some of the more industrialized and developed countries and economic zones—the ones that are most industrialized and developed—have seen their income grow considerably, other countries have in fact been excluded from the overall improvement of the economy and their situation has even worsened.

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