The Minnesota Principles Project

This document has been developed by a group of business leaders interested in fostering the fairness and integrity of business relationships in the emerging global marketplace. As a statement of aspirations, The Minnesota Principles are not meant to mirror reality but to express a standard against which our often inadequate performance can be held accountable. The statement grows our of the experience and values of Minnesota business people and is therefore local, but we think it also fairly represents ethical values arising from the culture of North America.

The purpose of this project is two-fold:

  1. To describe the ethical systems of each trading such that we may be aware of and sensitive to the behaviors most valued by our trading partners.
  2. To begin a process - based on these statements - that identifies shared values and reconciles differing values so we may move toward developing a world standard of business behavior that is acceptable to and honored by all.

To this end, the Principles were discussed by members of Caux Roundtable, a group of international business leaders who have been meeting each year in Caux, Switzerland, to discuss global concerns. The group recognized the need for a higher standard of business conduct in the international marketplace and endorsed the Minnesota Principles for worldwide distribution as a means of stimulating wider discussion.

There is much synergy between the Principles and the Japanese concept of "Kyosei," which means "living and working together for the common good in a way that enables cooperation and mutual prosperity to co-exist with healthy and fair competition." The Minnesota Principles represent a practical way to apply Kyosei.


Whereas the mobility of jobs and capital is making business increasingly global in its transactions and its effects;

Whereas laws in such a context are necessary but insufficient guides for conduct;

Whereas responsibility for a corporation's actions and policies and respect for the dignity and interests of its stakeholders are fundamental;

And whereas shared values, including a commitment to shared prosperity, are as important for a global community as for communities of smaller scale;

We offer the following propositions as a foundation for dialogue by business leaders in search of corporate responsibility.

In so doing, we affirm the legitimacy and centrality of moral values in economic decision making because without them, stable business relationships and a sustainable world community are impossible.

General Principles

Proposition # 1:
Stimulating economic growth is the particular contribution of business to the larger society.


Proposition #2:
Business activities must be characterized by fairness.


Proposition #3:
Business activities must be characterized by honesty.


Proposition #4:
Business activities must be characterized by respect for human dignity.


Proposition #5:
Business activities must be characterized by respect for the environment.


Stakeholder Principles


We believe that our customers are not only those who directly purchase our products and services but also those who acquire them through authorized market channels. In cases where those who use our products and services do not purchase them directly from us, we will make our best effort to select marketing and assembly/ manufacturing channels that accept and follow the standards of business conduct articulated here. We have a responsibility:



We believe in the dignity of every employee and we therefore have a responsibility:



We believe in honoring the trust our investors place in us. We therefore have a responsibility:



We begin with the conviction that our relationship with suppliers is like a partnership. As a result, we have a responsibility:



We believe that as global corporate citizens, we have responsibilities in the communities in which we do business:



We believe that fair economic competition is the most effective path toward increasing the wealth of nations and ultimately for making possible the just distribution of goods and services. We therefore have responsibilities:

Drafting Participants:

Larry Bell, Ecolab, Inc.;

Lee Berlin, LecTec Corporation;

Timothy Clayton, Price Waterhouse;

George Crolick, Minnesota Trade Office;

Charles M. Denny, Jr., ADC Telecommunications, Inc.;

Manfred Fiedler, Honeywell Inc.;

Glen Fuerstneau, Arthur Andersen & Company;

Kenneth E. Goodpaster, University of St. Thomas;

Robert Kennedy, University of St. Thomas;

Lawrence Koslow, Koslow & Associates;

Robert W. MacGregor, Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility;

John Marshall, 3M;

John Mirocha, Cargill, Inc.;

Charles I. Mundale, Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility;

Shelley Nelson, 3M;

Bonnie J. Neubeck, Norwest Bank Minnesota, N.A.;

Robert Siegfried, Medtronic, Inc.

Minnesota Center For Corporate Responsibility

Board of Directors:

John G. Turner, Chairman, MCCR Board; Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, The NWNL Companies Inc.;

Anthony L. Andersen, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, H.B. Fuller Company;

David L. Andreas, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, National City Bancorporation;

Norman E. Bowie, Andersen Chair in Corporate Responsibility, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota;

James R. Campbell, President & Chief Executive Officer, Norwest Bank Minnesota N.A.;

John F. Carlson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Cray Research, Inc.;

John W. Castro, President & Chief Executive Officer, Merrill Corporation;

Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chairman, ADC Telecommunications, Inc.;

William H. Ellis, President & Chief Operating Officer, Piper Jaffray Companies Inc.;

Michael J. Evers, Dean, Graduate School of Business, University of St. Thomas;

Theodore L. Fredrickson, Associate Dean, Graduate School of Business & Division Director, Business Administration, University of St. Thomas;

Robert P. Gandrud, President & Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Brotherhood;

Kenneth E. Goodpaster, Professor, Koch Chair in Business Ethics, Graduate School of Business, University of St. Thomas;

James L. Hetland, Jr., Board Secretary & Counsel to the Board, First Bank, N.A.;

Ronald N. Hoge, former President & Chief Executive Officer, Onan Corporation;

Thomas E. Holloran, Professor/MBA Director, Management, Graduate School of Business, University of St. Thomas;

Ron James, Chief Executive Officer, U S WEST Communications-Minnesota;

David A. Koch, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Graco, Inc.;

Floyd E. Kuehnis, Jr., Managing Partner, KPMG Peat Marwick;

Richard G. Lareau, Partner, Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly;

Richard D. McFarland, Chairman, Inter-Regional Financial Group, Inc.;

Galen T. Pate, Chairman, Signal Bank, Inc.;

James J. Renier, Chairman, Board's Executive Committee, Honeywell Inc.;

James P. Shannon, Retired Vice President & Executive Director, General Mills Foundation;

Donald C. Wegmiller, President, MCG/Health Care Compensation.

Honorary Member: Hazel R. O'Leary, The Secretary of Energy, United States of America.

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