May 23, 2010
Business Ethics Across Cultures Article Review
The first Article that I read is titled Business Ethics in China. In this article the author talked about how China is open to considering the ethical issues as they want to be global players. The Chinese are aware of some of their own corrupt business practices such as favoring family and cronies. Because the Chinese are doing so well and is such an economic powerhouse, any ethical rules that they set in place will have an impact on the entire world. Chinese frown upon double standards when it comes to criticism of their county by companies that flaunt their own ethical issues. So when doing business with the Chinese, they must set up the code of ethics. The article is listed below:
Business Ethics in China
by Miriam Schulman
If you want to talk about business ethics in China, don't set yourself up as the Western expert imposing foreign models on the Chinese. That was the message of Stephan Rothlin, general secretary of the Center for International Business Ethics (CIBE) in Beijing in remarks to the Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics March 23. The Chinese, Rothlin said, are very open to considering ethical issues: "They want to be global players, and they realize that in order to become a real global power, they have to eliminate corrupt practices." Many students at the Beijing University of International Business and Economics, where CIBE is based, are pursuing an MBA because they are frustrated by the corruption they witness, he noted. But the Chinese do not want paternalism from the West. Instead, Rothlin said, they want acknowledgement that "they can offer something, that they can actually become a driver in the field of ethics." Because the Chinese are emerging as an economic powerhouse, any ethical rules they integrate into their businesses practices will have an impact on the whole world. Often, the Chinese see hypocrisy in criticism of their country by companies that tout their own ethical codes but then close their eyes to what their own Chinese subcontractors are doing, Rothlin said. To counteract this skepticism toward Western critiques, he counseled an approach that acknowledges unethical conduct in other cultures as well. Swiss by birth, Rothlin teaches about the failure of Swissair in 2001 "to avoid suggesting that only China has problems." He gives the same advice to those who want to work with Chinese companies or bring their businesses to China. "The strategy should be to limit the output of Western experts to a minimum," he said. Setting up a code of ethics, for example, should be primarily the job of the Chinese. "It does not mean anything if you translate your existing code from English and distribute it," he cautioned. "The Chinese will say, 'Yes, thank you,' and then throw the code away." Of course, that indifferent kind of implementation would not work anywhere in the world, even, as one member of the partnership pointed out, "in San Diego." Rather than imposing a code, Rothlin argued, "let the Chinese develop their own codes. Then the managers can identify themselves with these codes." Rothlin emphasizes China's own philosophical traditions when he talks about business ethics with the Chinese. He gave this example of how he discusses the problem of corruption, which often includes favoring family and cronies. Some students of China have argued that the Chinese are encouraged in such favoritism by their traditions. They point to Confucius' focus on responsibility to family, citing his admonition that a person who sees his father steal a sheep should not turn his father over to the authorities. But Rothlin points out counter-arguments within the Chinese tradition itself. Mozi, a philosopher of the 5th century BCE, tried to replace the Confucian focus on...