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Social norms are an important input for ethical decisions in any business context. However, the cross-cultural discovery of extant social norms presents a special challenge to international management because norms may be inscrutable to outsiders. This paper considers the contribution of Integrative Social Contracts Theory (ISCT) to the analysis of social norms in business ethics. It questions the origins and dynamics of norms from a sociological perspective, and identifies a tension between prescriptive efforts to make norms obligatory and positivist accounts that describe norms as evolving and unstable.
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