You want to know what business ethics means in different countries and regions of the world? A new article provides a good and brief overview. With the results provided, you might be better equipped for developing business ethics in your international organization.

The article has three assets:

(1) The results presented are based on both a comprehensive review of literature and the quantitative analyses of large data sets, ensuring validity of the results.

(2) It provides brief introductions to business ethics in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, China, Japan, Western and Central Europe, Latin America, Saudi Arabia, and India. For example:

  • Anglo countries are significantly different from other countries, with a higher emphasis on senior management in promoting and modelling high ethical standards, and more formalized processes, i.e. clear policies for reporting ethical violations.
  • Germany and the Netherlands show a greater uncertainty regarding the issue of business ethics.

(3) The article cautions against false generalizations: “It would be a mistake to make generalizations about similarity of ethical business practices in organizations from different countries based on similarity in economic development, geographic proximity, and/or perceived cultural similarity”. For example

  • China and Japan are quite different regarding business ethics; Japan has been found to be more alike with Italy (!; reasons for that are given in the article)
  • India espouses values of business ethics similar to the Anglo countries

Overall, the article allows for considering international differences when promoting business ethics. This ensures a more impactful translation of business ethics policies to organizational practice.

Alexandre Ardichvili, Douglas Jondle, & Brenda Kowske (2010). Dimensions of ethical business cultures: Comparing data from 13 countries of Europe, Asia, and the Americas, Human Resource Development International, 13 (3), 299-315.