Business Ethics across Cultures
XMGT 216 / Organizational Ethics and social Responsibility (AXIA)
Carolyn A. Fuentes
December 5th, 2010
The first country I chose to research was Germany. I chose them because the world already knows about their personal morals and ethics in history, and how they could be swayed by one individual. They systematically set their morals aside and allowed one man to dictate the country’s ethical stand. They were subsequently able to recover and even improve what had been so easily given away. When it comes to current ethics in German businesses, they are becoming more and more influenced by American business and international trade.
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I believe that this type of behavior will eventually cease to exist, as international businesses are moving towards a more unified approach to business. Higher standards are being required so in order for Germany to be a big player in the international market they will have to play by a certain set of rules. These ethical rules have mainly been set by the U.S and the U.K., two of the biggest players.
There was a case a few years back that set an important precedent for businesses who attempt to implement stringent codes of conduct within German companies. Codes of conduct are a standard in the U.S. and becoming more so in European countries, but when the German subsidiary of the U.S. owned Wal-Mart tried to implement a code of conduct in early 2005, the employees revolted. The code stipulated that no relationship or love affair could be entered if it was deemed to interfere with the persons working conditions. It also stated that any kind of contact that one could interpret as sexual was prohibited along with lustful looks and jokes that were sexually oriented or offensive. These offenses carried the punishment of termination, and these behaviors would be considered sexual harassment in the U.S.
A lawsuit was filed by the employees against the company and a judge ruled that the code conflicted with the employees civil rights. “The clause to regulate the love life of the employees was judged to violate the personal rights of the employees, particularly the personal freedom guaranteed in Art. 1 para.1 (1) and Art. 2 para. 1 (2) of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz, the German Constitution)” (Darsow, 2005). It was determined that any rules, or codes, that tries to regulate the personal lives of the employees, has to be agreed upon by the employers and the employees alike. It is important for American corporations to know that, when considering a code of conduct in a foreign country, you have to take into consideration that country’s culture along with their own laws and personal rights.
The Wal-Mart case alone reminds us that a country’s laws and those rights given to their residents by their constitutions, outweighs those codes they are trying to implement. It is only a matter of time before we unite in the battle for ethical standards that protect all parties involved.
The second country I chose is China, as they may be the second biggest economy but they are one of the worst when it comes to ethics and business practices. It wasn’t that long ago that poor ethical decision by Chinese business managers were made and publicized across the globe. Instances of the use of lead paint in toys sold in America, the injecting of water in meat to add weight, and tainted baby formula have all brought new light to the dealings of China, and added increased doubt to whether or not we should deal with them. There is a report called the corruption perceptions index by Transparency International that lists China as the 79th least corrupt nation....