The idea of globalizes business ethics is an interesting idea, however what is considered ethical or moral in one culture, may not be if importance in another. The following paper looks at two different articles that appeared in the Journal of Business Ethics for two very different countries. The first article is Business Ethics in Canada: Distinctiveness and Directions by Leonard J. Brooks.
It examined the ethical dilemmas that Canadian Business’s observed and the people that shaped those ethics. There is no Securities and Exchange Commission in Canada, so Canadian business ethics derived from a broader socio-political and socio-economic factor than those in the United States, however, these very ethics could influence U. S. Companies in the future. The biggest influence on business ethics in Canada is society, and in particular, its concern on health, conscience and the environment.
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While these concerns may not have affected many Canadian businesses, there effects on U. S. Businesses has been noticed. The U. S. Has been dealing with fraud and unethical business’s practices for years, but these same issues have only recently came to the fore front in the minds of Canadians. Perhaps, the biggest hindrance to a cohesive set of business ethics in Canada is its dependence on global markets and the fear of relocating production facilities to other countries.
The author suggests that the result of this economic pressure is an increase in public awareness and the public funding of health care. Therefore, it is not surprising to find at the core of Canadian business ethics, the issue of workers health, followed by sexual and other harassment, the employment of women and minorities and the protection of workers’ sights. While government regulations in these areas is ongoing, businesses in Canada are developing their own codes in relation to these concerns.
Canadians have long been aware of the effects of pollution on the environment and passed the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 1988 that can impose a penalty of up to $1 million per day upon a company found in violation of this act. While the United States has introduced guidelines to limit these types of fines, the Canadian public believes that corporations need to take protection of the environment seriously and have rejected such assure. In fact, many Canadian mining companies have found it more beneficial to build new mines in the United States instead of Canada.
However, there are Canadian companies that take polluting and the environment very seriously. In 1984 an incident in India, prompted Norman Sick, a senior executive with DOD Chemical Canada, to develop the Responsible Care Program. This is a voluntary self and peer-review program that protects employees, the public and the environment from poor manufacturing improper storage and unsafe shipping practices. This aerogram has been so successful that it has been copied in over thirty countries.
The Canadian public has not been the only factor in developing a strong sense of ethics, there are several organization that are at the forefront, among these are the United Church of Canada, the TACT(Task Force on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility), and the Allendale and Fairest Securities Corporation. These organizations are responsible for creating a market for ethical investing, where the focus is not on short term returns to shareholders, but to longer term profitability with accountability.
The largest ethics consulting firm is Ethicists Canada and was founded in 1987 by David Knit. Ethicists provides a database of corporate social performance indicators and publishes the bimonthly The Corporate Ethics Monitor. Canada may not have a national regulatory body such and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is has developed a strong business ethic stance thanks to the Canadian public and to a few ethical corporations, who took it upon themselves to conduct business in an ethical way. The second article I read was Business Ethics in China by Lu Isaiah.
This article details how the placement of business ethics in China can be divided into three stages (1978-1984 1984-1994; 1994 to the present). These ethics are also driven by four factors, the inheritance of Chinese traditional ethics, the influence of Marxist philosophy, the reflections on economic reform and the influence of business ethics from other countries. The emergence of business ethics in China did not arise from academia, but from the Chinese culture itself. The economy of China, as a whole, was not a focal point to many Chinese before 1978. Western ethics were viewed skeptically and a type of Marxism was reverent.
In 1 978 the government started to focus on economic activity and saw the beginning of reformation. Agriculture areas began to see that money was linked to output and farmers began to have some decision making power. Then in 1 979, the Department of Education mandated that ethics be taught and the National Society for Ethics was founded. However, the concept of business and ethics were discussed only at a philosophical level. The second stage 1984-1994, saw business ethics starting to form. The economic reforms in 1984 were broad changed a planned economy into a planned commodity economy.
The topics of commodity and moral development, economic reforms and moral changes, economic reforms and traditional ethics, material civilization and spiritual civilization were discussed. Business ethics were beginning to be approached from an ethical perspective, even though business ethics as a discipline was not yet established. The third stage presents, saw the division of centrally planned economy and single public ownership into a De-centralized market economy with separation of ownership. Many state owned companies became legal entities with responsibilities to investors.
One of the biggest influences on Chinese culture and ethics is the idea of “Hi” and Lie . “L ” ” I” means benefits or profits, while M” refers to the principle of obtaining benefits and profits. The connection between the two is evident in the Confucian view: “A person of noble character can understand M”, but a low person only know Lie. ” That is not to say that Chinese are against “Lie” just that “Hi” needs to be put into “Lie” to achieve “Lie” in a moral way. While people in China are ashamed to speak of “Lie”, the economic reforms have made “Hi” and “Lie” the central idea behind business and ethics.
They relate to the concepts of efficiency, fairness and material desire. The switch from a Marxist economy to a form of Capitalism presents some challenge for business ethics. The reforms require the role of government to be reduced in the economy, yet the government represents the state owned enterprises within that economy. How does the idea of fair competition, when the government owns one of the competitors? The opening of potential labor markets by private owned enterprises could potentially lead to huge unemployment, when state run enterprises fail and the private ones cannot Andre the burden.
The simple fact that some will get richer, and some will not. The Industry Bureaus of the past have been replaced by holding companies. The committees that manage state-owned property are founded. State- owned enterprises have social responsibilities that private owned ones do not, such as housing, medical care, and retirement plans. How a state does owned business deal with the ethical issues of unacceptable labor conditions and low paid work? Is it fair for the government to overlook these to attract foreign investors, yet hold state-owned business’ accountable.
The increase f multinational corporations in China ensures us that the Issues of business ethics will continue to play a major role. The challenge is to develop a code of ethics that is fair to both private and state owned enterprises. The two articles showed t-van. Or very different countries and how the concept of business ethics affects them. Canada businesses have dealt with the idea of business ethics longer than China. They have a firm grasp on what ethics a company should adapt, in order to be successful in Canada. China, is still in the beginning stages of forming a cohesive ethics profile for its economy.
The idea of “Hi” and “Lie” certainly strengthen the idea of behaving ethically, but certain cultural divides remain. The switch from a Marxist view to a Capitalist view will take time, and both have strong and weak ethical concepts. China needs to be open and flexible about those concepts, in order to draft a standard Of ethics that can help state-owned and private owned enterprises.