The illicit trade in human trafficking, drug smuggling, toxic waste disposal, blood diamonds and the like may not match that of other legitimate sectors traded, yet it is morally objectionable. Using the limited data in the public domain from non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, the news media and the limited academic sources, this chapter seeks to demonstrate the nature and extent of these questionable international businesses. It finds that governments share responsibility for failing to uphold national or international laws against such trades, let alone sometimes facilitating and participating in them. Through shared global supply chains, legitimate corporations may be culpable in the perpetuation of socio-economic injustice in many developing economies. Despite the challenges, the moral imperative remains for business academics to highlight and work against such exploitation of unfortunate individuals, groups, even whole societies.
Most advocacy against the dark side of trade comes to us through investigative journalism in the mainstream news media, rather than the business media. Formal research on these dubious trades is lacking and what little is done is primarily by non-government organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), not academic institutions. Within academia, research on the phenomenon is published primarily by researchers from the humanities and social sciences, even the physical sciences, rather than those in business and management, with the possible exception of economists who have done some amoral research on the arms trade. Using limited secondary data on the extent of the trade and its consequences, this chapter aims to show why corporations cannot ignore such matters of global socioeconomic justice.
Newcastle-on-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.