Volume 33, Issue 2/3, Summer 2014
Suzanne Kathleen McCoskey
The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and Liberia’s Civil War
Evaluating Firestone’s Intent to Operate During Chaos
In this paper the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company’s decision to continue rubber production during Liberia’s chaotic civil war is critically discussed. Evaluating whether this decision, in intent or execution, violated ethical norms for MNEs operating internationally is complicated by the fact that such norms seem not to exist. If as Windsor (2004) suggests such norms are only likely to be established through an evolutionary path then it should be asked whether Firestone’s experiences, and discussion thereof, have informed the development of norms in any meaningful way. It is argued here that conflicting conclusions about the meaning and morality of Firestone’s decisions have meant that the case study has contributed little in the way of meaningful norms for future decisions made by MNEs in conflict zones. Further it is argued that the underlying chaos of broad, violent conflict may make consensus around specific norms—and progress along the path to the development of norms—more laborious and fraught with difficulty than other policy arenas such as labor and environmental standards.