Global Business And Ethics

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Global Business and Ethics

Global Business and Ethics


Ethics refers to principles that define behavior as right or wrong. Who determines which actions are right and where did the rules come from? The definition of “right” is clearly a matter of perspective (Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2002). Differences in perspective due to the infinite diversity of people often lead to conflict between personal ethics and those adopted by groups. Individuals must find ways to reconcile diverse personal, organizational, and cultural ethics to succeed in a global setting.


Personal, Organizational, and Cultural Perspectives Decision-making is the process of defining problems and choosing the best course of action by evaluating all possible alternatives. Adding ethics to the process brings moral sensitivity to the implications of those choices. Personal, organizational, and cultural ethics play a collective role in decision-making, so understanding the definition and relevancy of each perspective is paramount.

Personal ethics and values form a moral code of conduct embedded into the behavior of every individual. People are not born ethical, but have ethics thrust upon them starting at birth. Concepts of honesty, integrity, independence, trust, spirituality, caring, and courage are values imprinted into every individual from sources such as family, community, culture, education, and religion (Seneca College, 2001). Note that personal ethics and values are not always morally sound and universal, i.e., racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism.

Organizational ethics and values form a moral code of conduct in the same vein as personal ethics, but govern the behavior of each organization as a whole. Examples of organizational values are autonomy, conscientiousness, competitiveness, confidentiality, dedication, loyalty, professionalism, and teamwork (Seneca College, 2001). Without organizational control, individuals will naturally resort to following personal ethics and risk misrepresenting the organization. Adhering to organizational ethics is a collective undertaking, so personal ethics must be secondary. Dissimilarities between personal and organizational ethics are often rooted in culture.

Cultural ethics form a moral code of conduct in the same vein as organizational ethics, but govern the behavior of each society as a whole. Cultural values such as ethnicity, faith, history, language, nationality, tradition, and unselfishness are passed down from generation to generation (Seneca College, 2001). For example, women of Islam must observe a dress code where the entire body must be covered with opaque material; the clothing must hang loosely to not attract attention or increase one's status in society; female clothing must look different from male and non-believing women's clothing (Rahman, 2003). To interact successfully and without offense in any business environment, understanding the ethics and values driving the culture of that environment is essential.

Conflicts of Interest Conflicts of interest arise when personal ethics and values clash with those of the organization. Before joining any organization, individuals must investigate the ethics, values, and corporate cultures of the organization to ensure compatibility. However, a common dilemma often occurs after compatibility has been verified. Organizations are regularly compelled to readjust their code of ethics due to changes in business structure, climate, and ...
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