How important are ethics and social responsibility?

Essay by lofsaD+, January 2006

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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. (Singhapakdi, 1999).

Results indicate that differences in the perceived importance of ethics and social responsibility among marketers from the four countries exist because of:

- country differences in culture, economic development, and legal/political environment;

- differences in organizational ethical climate; and

- gender differences.

There are not any differences due to age. Overall similarities and differences among the four countries emerged on specific dimensions of business effectiveness. On the dimensions of output quality and competitiveness, there were no differences among the four countries. Inter-country differences were found on the dimensions of communication, efficiency, profits, survival, and stakeholder satisfaction. These findings regarding cross-cultural similarities and differences are useful in furthering our understanding and management of ethics and social responsibility in the international context.