Purpose – Efforts to address the role and responsibilities of large global corporations have predominantly focused on the need for increased and more effective global corporate governance, but this underestimates the need to articulate a global ethics for these corporations. This paper aims to analyse the Woolf Committee Report (WCR; the weapon company BAE Systems plc's attempt to outline what it would take to become a global corporate leader in ethics) and benchmark it against an ethical response to corporate responsibility articulated as a global ethics.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a textual analysis of the WCR.
Findings – The WCR contains openings towards a re-articulation of the role and responsibilities of large global corporations, but it is predominantly a text that gives us more clues to how difficult it will be for BAE, or any other corporation, to “live” a global ethics.
Research limitations/implications – Critical analyses of the language that corporations use in order to address their role and responsibilities are important. However, how texts influence practice is dependent on how they travel and more studies on such journeys are also needed.
Practical implications – Given that textual analyses, such as ours, are re-connected to practitioners, such studies might contribute to making practitioners more discursively aware of the corporate talk that they are embedded in.
Originality/value – The paper predominantly speaks to the field of business studies and its originality lies in its focus on a global ethics (without reducing this to governance) in relation to the role and responsibilities of large global corporations.
2010. Vol. 1, no 2, 279-292 p.