The global market presents firms with more complex ethical issues than they would experience if operations were


The global market presents firms with more complex ethical issues than they would experience if operations were limited to one country and one culture. Moral standards vary across cultures. In some cases, cultures change and evolve to accept conduct that was not previously acceptable. For example, in some countries, it is permissible for donors to sell body organs for transplantation. Residents of other countries have sold their kidneys to buy televisions or just to improve their standard of living. In the United States, the buying and selling of organs by individuals is not permitted, but recently experts have called for such a system as a means of resolving the supply-and-demand dilemma that exists because of limited availability of donors and a relative excess of needy recipients.

In many executive training seminars for international business, executives are taught to honor customs in other countries and to "do as the Romans do." Employees are often confused by this direction. A manager for a U.S. title insurer provides a typical example. He complained that if he tipped employees in the U.S. public-recording agencies for expediting property filings, the manager would not only be violating the company's code of ethics but could also be charged with violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and state and federal antibribery provisions. Yet, that same type of practice is permitted, recognized, and encouraged in other countries as a cost of doing business. Paying a regulatory agency in the United States to expedite a licensing process would be considered bribery of a public official. Yet, many businesses maintain that they cannot obtain such authorizations to do business in other countries unless such payments are made. So-called "grease," or facilitation, payments are permitted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but legality does not necessarily make such payments ethical.

An inevitable question arises when custom and culture clash with ethical standards and moral values adopted by a firm. Should the national culture or the company code of ethics be the controlling factor?

Typical business responses to the question of whether cultural norms or company codes of ethics should take precedence in international business operations are the following: Who am I to question the culture of another country? Who am I to impose U.S. standards on all the other nations of the world? Isn't legality the equivalent of ethical behavior? The attitude of businesses is one that permits ethical deviations in the name of cultural sensitivity. Many businesses fear that the risk of offending is far too high to impose U.S. ethical standards on the conduct of business in other countries..............

Discussion Questions
1. What did you learn about universal values and ethics from the categorical imperative list?
2. What happens when a society does not have ethical standards? Be sure to discuss the example of the situation in Brazil 3. Who are the victims of corruption and graft?

4. Do you think following U.S. ethical standards in other countries is wise? Would it be unethical not to follow those standards? Explain your answer.

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