Although the COE of Telenor Group is clear, critical and comprehensive, there are several weaknesses it suffers: lack of flexibility, generalization and lack of follow-throughs.
Lack of flexibility
Cassel et al. (1997) argued that clear prescriptions for employees in specific situations can clash with needs for flexibility and applicability to multiple and/or novel situations. Restrictive standards in Telenor’s COE may hinder the development of business in certain countries and cultures. For instance, Standard 2.2 on working condition may be difficult to achieve in underdeveloped countries where labor force is inexpensive. Standards 3.6 on gifts and business courtesies, similarly, also can drive Telenor out of markets with business courtesy conventions. Under such circumstances, standards should be adjusted to ensure both legal and ethical business conduct and the best interest of company.
Generalized and vague statements of obligation cause ambiguousness, which unsurprisingly led to the impression that codes of ethics are a rhetorical Public Relation device manipulated by companies to pacify critics whilst maintaining business as usual. Standard for human rights, for example, declares that Telenor supports and respects conventions on human rights but fails to clarify what conventions refer to. Another example, Conduct 2.3 states “does our utmost” but is vague and powerless under the question on how to define “utmost”. Besides, considering specific business conduct and conventions in various departments, COE is merely general instructions that need interpretations and communications to members in each department.