Culture & Ethics


Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group or country.

Determinants of Culture

1) Social Structure

2) Religion and Ethical System

3) Language

4) Education

5) Economic and Political Philosophy

6) Culture and Workplace

Power distance

Power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.


Uncertainty is “the extent to which the members of a culture fell threatened by uncertain or unknown situations.”


Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is a branch of philosophy which seeks to address questions about morality; that is, about concepts such as good and bad, the noble and the ignoble, right and wrong, justice, and virtue.

Ethics in International Business

1) Employment Practices

1.1) working environment
1.2) wage rate
1.3) job hours

2) Human Rights

2.1) freedom of association
2.2) freedom of speech
2.3) freedom of movement

3) Environmental Pollution

3.1) factory area
3.2) use of material
3.3) handling waste
3.4) safety measures
3.5) action for improvement

4) Corruption

5) Moral obligations

Roots of Unethical Behavior

1) Personal Ethics

2) Organizational Culture

3) Leadership

4) Unrealistic Performance Goals

5) Decision Making Process

Philosophical approaches to ethics

The Friedman Doctrine: company’s only responsibility is to increase its profits. Friedman argued that a company should have no “social responsibility” to the public or society because its only concern is to increase profits for itself and for its shareholders.

Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and activities should be understood in terms of his or her own culture.

Righteous Moralist: A righteous moralist claims that a multinational’s home-country standards of ethics are the appropriate ones for companies to follow in foreign countries.

A naive immoralist asserts that if a manager of a multinational sees that firms from other nations are not following ethical norms in a host nation, that manager should not either.

Utilitarian & Kantian approaches to ethics hold that the moral worth of actions or practices is determined by their consequences.

Rights theories recognize that human beings have fundamental rights and privileges that transcend national boundaries and cultures. Rights establish a minimum level of morally acceptable behavior.

Justice theories focus on the attainment of a just distribution of economic goods and services. A just distribution is one that is considered fair and equitable.