By Jordan Watson
Seminar Group H
Academic and Professional Skills
Table of Contents
What is business ethics? 3
Ethics in China over the years. 4
Recent changes in Chinese ethics. 4
This literature review will focus on how business ethics can differ in countries around the world. They can differ due to traditional ethics, cultural differences and even the influence of philosophy. China is going to be the main focus of this review as the evolution of their ethics contrasts with that of other countries.
The research for this review was completely taken from secondary sources; no primary research was undertaken. The research consists of an assortment of journals, books and online articles taken from the online library, Google scholar and the Business Source Premier. In order to make sure that the journals were hard copies, the online library was set to show results from Aldrich library.
What is business ethics?
Milton Friedman once said that the only responsibility for a business is to make money. By using ethics they can. Business ethics are guidelines set by governments which basically present the moral principles which businesses must undergo to steer away from any problem or controversial issue which may arise. Goodman (1997) says that business ethics may change from place to place, and are generally affected by the change in culture and politics.
Ethics in China over the years.
Business ethics are constantly adapting to the business and political world. China is known to have problems with ethics; they had not changed anything in their ethics and did not start to develop what the West would consider moral, until the late 1970s. Bouverie-Brine (2007) suggests that China struggled to differ business ethics from personal ethics because of the cultural differences between them and the West. China’s ethics dwindle compared to that of their economic growth. Irwin (2012) implies that their ethics are heavily affected by the idea of Confucianism (strict morals in the culture) and how business and private life are not separated.
Recent changes in Chinese ethics.
Lu Xiaohe (1997) explains that the reason China struggled with ethics is because they had problems with their class system in the 1970s and that was the main concern with the population. Ethics were seen as a Westernised theory labelled as “feudalism, capitalism and revisionism”.
It wasn’t until the mid 1980s, when ‘The Decision on the Reform of the Economic System’ was introduced, which did not start the idea of ethics, but rather brought a new outlook on economical activities. Ethics came about through “Guanxi” which is similar to that of Western ethics, but with a more oriental feel. It is roughly translated as “connections” and has only been known globally in the last decade (Gold et al, 2002). As China is very rapidly becoming the leading country in businesses, it is important for Western firms to understand the concept of Guanxi.
People can see that from 1994 onward, China has drastically improved in the business world. They brought in their first labour law in 1995. This was a turning point for the country as it showed the West that they were changing their ethical ways.
By using ethics in a business, not only does it benefit the workers, but also the general public. Ethical businesses are more trustworthy to the public; they will continue to buy their goods from them. However this is not always a good thing. In recent years there has been an ongoing flow of suicides at the Apple factories in China, and people still continue to buy their products. By using ethics, businesses are able to gain more knowledge in their field; they can be more or less risk free. Also they can do the all important- maximise profit.
As previously stated,