As mentioned above, they are also assuming roles previously held solely by governments, including engaging in public health, education, social security and utilities, however, one might argue that such privatisations of public provision are typical, at least on a national scale, and are neither entirely new nor necessarily beyond the act of one actor.
What seems particularly important here is the assumption of wider responsibilities on an international scale related to forming and maintaining appropriate norms, values, standards and governance mechanisms for business issues as well political issue-related challenges such as AIDS, poverty and the protection of human rights. Thus, increasingly, corporations are assuming responsibilities beyond the issues that are more or less directly related to the core business and instead engaging widely addressing wider social and political challenges in the communities. Acknowledging the significance of multinational corporations and their resources, for example, the United Nations announced in 2002 that it had abandoned its policy to rely on governments in the fight against HIV/AIDS and would instead rely on contributions from the private sector (Kobrin, 2009). Equally important is the fact that MNCs engage in a collaborative sense with governments and civil society organisations. Again, the UN Global Compact serves as one of the most relevant examples of this being predominantly governed by the participants themselves and having been relatively effective in creating awareness and action with regards to demanding issues. Corporate participants commit to the ten universal principles within the areas of the environment, labour, anti-corruption and human rights, which are areas where corporations are very likely to be able to significantly influence and change the current conditions.
Naturally, corruption is often linked to business practice, but is also an example of a serious social problem in some weaker states and developing countries. Particularly in these cases, some authors argue, corporations are often in a unique position to foster positive institutional logics, which are the socially constructed, historical patterns of material practices, values and rules that create the identities and role expectations that guide behaviour (Weaver & Misangyi, 2008). Through the impact they have on the institutional structure of society and the identities of its individuals, corporations “become socio-political actors with regard to the mitigation of individual and systemic corruption” (Weaver & Misangyi, 2008: 203). From a practioner’s perspective, it is also a role that multinational corporations are willing and able to play, because “it makes good business sense” according to Peter Solmssen, an executive Vice-President of Siemens11.
11 Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten’s Blog: The Elephant in the Room. http://craneandmatten.blogspot.com/ 2010/06/elephant-in-room.html – Accessed November, 2012
Furthermore, with regard to corporate presence in weak states and countries with repressive governments, some argue that corporations here have a particular responsibility to promote and contribute to well-ordered social and political institutions grounded in a negative duty not to cause harm (Hsieh, 2009). Though the focus here is on particularly weak institutional environments typically present in developing countries, this is the same argument put forward by Scherer and Palazzo when they refer to a political responsibility to contribute to the proper working of global governance. In essence, it seems to come down to a moral responsibility in relation the specific institutional environment in which corporations operate, whether it is locally, nationally or internationally. And though this may seem too comprehensive to be feasible for