You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Most large companies nowadays operate multi-nationally. To what extent do multinational companies have responsibility toward local communities in which they operate?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.
It is true that, in this era of globalisation, most large companies operate outside the confines of national borders. While it is necessary that companies maximise their profits, this must not be at the expense of the welfare of the people in areas where these companies are based.
From a social perspective, multinational enterprises should provide jobs for local people and ensure that workers and their families have adequate salaries and access to health and education services. The horrors of the industrial revolution in Europe and America must be avoided– child labour, starvation wages and unhealthy working conditions. It is also in the self-interest of multinational firms to employ a healthy and educated workforce. Physically fit workers are more productive and mentally alert to the importance of health and safety at work. Finally, an educated workforce gives the company more flexibility, as skilled employees can be switched from one task to another to meet production requirements, as in the case of car assembly plants like Ford or Nissan.
From an environmental perspective, multinational firms must safeguard the natural resources of the area in which they operate. Local communities may traditionally depend on such resources for their survival. Irresponsible oil extraction by firms such as Shell or Texaco, for example, may result in oil spills which devastate the local fishing industry, as incidents in Alaska have shown. Similarly, unsustainable logging of timber for construction or paper manufacture may have serious effects on local farmers due to resultant soil erosion. Thus, it is essential to re- invest corporate profits into schemes to prevent pollution and to guarantee the long-term prosperity of local communities.
In conclusion, multinational companies have a moral duty and a practical interest in improving the quality of life of the local communities in which they conduct their operations.
confines: limits or borders.
maximise: increase something as much as possible.
horrors: the very unpleasant nature of something.
starvation wages: the state of suffering and death, as a result of having no food.
self-interest: considering only the advantage to yourself, without caring about others.
alert: aware of something, especially a danger or a problem.
switched: changed, moved.
somebody/something from danger or harm.
irresponsible: not thinking about the effects of what you do.
oil spills: accidents which allow oil to escape into the sea.
devastate: completely destroy something, such as an area of land.
unsustainable logging: cutting of trees that cannot be continued at the same rate indefinitely.
resultant: caused by the thing which has just been mentioned.
soil erosion: the process by which the soil/the land is gradually destroyed by the action of wind and rain.