Ethics programs in global businesses: Culture's role in managing ethics [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 30 (1):3 - 15 (2001)
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Abstract

Even if there were widespread cross-cultural agreement on the normative issues of business ethics, corporate ethics management initiatives (e.g., codes of conduct, ethics telephone lines, ethics offices) which are appropriate in one cultural setting still could fail to mesh with the management practices and cultural characteristics of a different setting. By uncritically adopting widely promoted American practices for managing corporate ethics, multinational businesses risk failure in pursuing the ostensible goals of corporate ethics initiatives. Pursuing shared ethical goals by means of culturally inappropriate management practices, in short, can undermine the effectiveness of ethics management efforts. This article explicates how several important dimensions of culture can influence the effectiveness of common ethics initiatives, and recommends the development and application of a culture-structure contingency analysis in the task of encouraging ethical behavior in global businesses.

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