How important are ethics and social responsibility?

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How important are ethics and social responsibility?


The study of ethics has become increasingly important with global business expansion, because of an increase in ethical and social responsibility - concerns that businesses face in different country environments. There exists, however, a wide divergence in the level of importance attached to these two issues in different countries (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1998). Moreover, vast differences exist from country to country in the economic development, cultural standards, legal/political systems, and expectations regarding business conduct (Wotruba, 1997). In addition, there is great divergence in the enforcement of policies (Mittelstaedt and Mittelstaedt, 1997).

In the business ethics literature, ethical variations among marketers/managers from different nations are documented in many empirical studies on various types of ethical issues (e.g. Armstrong et al., 1990; Graham, 1985; Becker and Fritzsche, 1987). Variation in ethics across cultures was evidenced in a cross-national study of industrial salespeople by Dubinsky et al.

(1991) where some significant differences in ethical perceptions were found among marketing managers from Japan, Korea, and the USA. A study by Singhapakdi et al. (1994) also revealed that American and Thai marketers differ on various components of their ethical decision-making process.

However, international researchers have not investigated differences in the extent to which marketers from different countries believe that ethics and social responsibility are important for organizational effectiveness. An individual's perception about whether ethics and social responsibility contribute to organizational effectiveness is likely to be a critical antecedent of whether he/she even perceives an ethical problem in a given situation (Singhapakdi et al., 1995). This is a pragmatic view based on an argument that managers must first perceive ethics and social responsibility to be vital to organizational effectiveness before their behaviors will become more ethical and reflect greater social responsibility.

This view is consistent with Hunt...