Gabriel A. Martinez
Saint Thomas University – Reaction Paper MAN 711
The purpose of this paper will be to analyze the influence and importance of cultural values in combination with business ethics. Based on previous discussion of cultural differences an analysis of similar cultures and stark differences will be examined in order to provide an example of how different cultures practice and apply business ethics.
Reaction Paper - Cultural Values and Business Ethics 4
Cultural Values and Business Ethics
Cultural values are what make us who we are. They are our basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong. My grandmother used to tell me when I was a boy that every person is a universe unto themselves. In essence, the message was that each individual is unique and has their own way of seeing, perceiving and understanding things. Although a large part of the cultural values one manifests can be traced back to biological or genetic reasons, there are also cultural influences as well.
It can be argued that the conduct of business emerges and evolves in response to religious, philosophical, societal, economical, and institutional concepts and notions (Scholtens & Dam, 2007). In that context, business ethics will be applied differently in different business throughout the world. Each country and its culture will be influenced by their history, their socioeconomic standing, government, geography and a host of other regional influences that are a product of their environment.
Business ethics, as a part of culture, does not happen in a vacuum or isolation (Scholtens & Dam, 2007). Indeed, it is an open part of the culture in which it resides. In the U.S. this culture can be different depending just on geography. For example, it can be argued that rural ethics versus urban ethics will be more conservative in their values. Those on the East coast will see things differently than on the West Coast. In that context, the differences between countries can be quite dramatic let alone regional differences within the same.
Business ethics take place in a social and cultural environment that is being governed by a complex set of laws, rules and regulations, formal values and norms, codes of conduct, policies and various organizations (Scholtens & Dam, 2007). In some countries bribery is an accepted part of doing business. In others, it is highly offensive. In some countries a code of conduct is an integral part of the way a company operates and it something openly published and preached. In others, a code of conduct is often an understood process, handed down by tradition and difficult to understand for outsiders.
Cultural differences between countries are one of the main drivers of a nation’s level of economic and entrepreneurial conduct (Scholtens & Dam, 2007). Third world countries will have a much different value system that those of developed nations. Eastern countries will have different values than those in the west.
As an example of cultural values in the United States a review of Milton Friedman and his views will help illustrate differences in belief by region. Friedman embodies the American puritan ethic. He believes corporate ethics is governed solely in the limited view of what is best for the company. He rejects the notion that business has a responsibility to police discrimination, ensure equality in compensation or other “social” issues. In fact, he believes that were a corporate executive to act in a way that takes such things into account it is not in the interest of his employers.