Comparatively more companies in Asia are owned privately by families.55 Not beholden to shareholders, they bring their own values and interests to their companies, including priorities on social and environmental performance. On the one hand this can raise ethical issues concerning nepotism and class stratification, while on the other it presents a great diversity of possible ethical approaches and the ability for unusual innovations on particular social or environmental issues.56 One example of the extensive influence of family in business is the importance of family-related notions of social capital in Chinese culture, called ‘Guānxi’. It has been the subject of an ongoing debate about its ethical implications in the Journal of Business Ethics for the past decade.57

On the matter of influencing practice, recognising the familial nature of business means that traditional social networks are key. Although the majority of family businesses are small or medium sized, the role of families in controlling some large transnational corporations, suggests that professionals or activists who seek high-leverage points of influence to promote responsible enterprise should seek to engage through social networks as much as professional channels.

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(The references are available in the pdf download and hard copy versions of this annual review, available from Lifeworth’s bookstore.)

This section can be referenced as:

Bendell, J., and C Ng, ‘Introduction’, in J. Bendell, N. Alam, S. Lin, C. Ng, L. Rimando, C. Veuthey, B. Wettstein (2009) The Eastern Turn in Responsible Enterprise: A Yearly Review of Corporate Responsibility from Lifeworth, Lifeworth: Manila, Philippines. (Page numbers for this section are available in the pdf download and hardcopy.)

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