Business Ethics & Corruption

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Corruption At Siemens

Scandals don’t happen overnight. It takes years and in some cases decades and generations to fully develop. If they sometimes take this long to embed themselves into social fibers to where they are almost customary, one can only scratch the surface on how hard the reversal of this culture of behavior will be in creating a positive impact on attitudes and decisions. But it is possible, not very easy or fun, but possible. The core of these problems doesn’t lay in business practices; it is a behavior of the human species that existed long before the effects of value based decisions would be established in business. The corruption at Siemens is a symptom, not a cause. Realizing and reacting to the symptom is the logical place to start. I identified three explanations from our reading of the corruptions in Siemens that I think accurately describe how these symptoms got so out of control without being checked. Number one was “Process”. Like I mentioned above this is the result of years of practice incrementally edging further and further away from basic ethical behavior. It is the compilation of one choice after another that gains momentum in the wrong direction. Number two was “cognitive dissonance”; Siemens managers continued culture of bribery until they were forced to stop by arrest. Only then did they admit a problem but still even in that moment bribes were described as “excessive” and should have been “reduced”. The arrests were inconvenient but they didn’t seem to link the consequence to the behavior or see a problem other than the excessiveness. Number three was “social proof”. This trait was maybe more of a cultural symptom, sighting that it wasn’t even until the late 90’s that bribery wasn’t against the law, businesses would definitely be responding to this type of reward system thinking narrowly in terms of a win-win in the short run. Also noting from the video in class (source unknown) the founder of Siemens himself...
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