Douglasian Cultural Model in Indian Context

Topics: Ethics, Culture, Business ethics Pages: 8 (2170 words) Published: February 27, 2013
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Today’s world is being dominated by daily innovations in technology and increasing globalization which helps organizations to spread and to operate globally in a successful way. Every organisation operating at a global level is trying to improve their financial profits. The success of such organizations greatly depends on their workforce and their decision-making capabilities. Many times the ethicality of such decisions have been questioned because of the profit driven strategies of these organizations. As Nobel Prize winner economist Milton Friedman quotes, “An executive’s responsibility generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to their basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.” The decision-making process and hence ethicality of the decisions in such organisations is greatly influenced by the culture of the workforce. Bartels (1967) was one of the first to note the importance of the role of culture in ethical decision-making. There are different studies which discuss the diversity of ethical decision-making based on different perspective for example, Vitell, Nwachukwu and Barnes, 1993 discuss the effect of culture on ethical decision-making with the help of Hofsted’s typology while Patel and Schaefer, 2009 discuss the same with the help of Douglasian Cultural Theory (CT) perspective in the Indian context.

Patel and Schaefer’s article discusses the impact of culture on ethical decision-making from a Douglasian Cultural Theory (CT) perspective. It explains the dynamic ethical behaviour of the individual with four solidarities of CT. The Article also discusses the business ethics in the Indian context. Authors argue that applying static conception of culture to the process of ethical decision-making in business results in several problems. The Authors propose CT as an alternative model to these static conceptions to avoid these problems. The Article says that every social system is ethically plural because of the presence of all four solidarities together. An Individual from different solidarities may have a different perception of an issue’s moral intensity which may lead to different levels of moral awareness and hence to different moral judgements. The Article explores the dynamicity and diversity of ethical decision-making in business using the CT framework within the Indian context with examples of Amul, SEWA, Tata Steel, ONGC and Reliance.

This article offers an alternative approach of CT stating the impact of culture on ethical decision-making process in business. Authors argue that applying the static conception of culture to the business ethics results in different problems like national stereotyping, focus on only national cultural aspect ignoring the other aspects and broad generalisation of culture at national level. This article strongly supports the scholars who challenge the essentialist culture approach like Hofstedian framework. Singh (1990) and Bosland (1985a) have shown that it is possible to have different scores on the four Hofstedian dimensions within the same country. Hence there is possibility of difference in ethical behaviour within the same country. The Authors also talk about the same ethical dynamicity in behaviour.

The article powerfully illustrates the diversity in business ethics within Indian context using CT model. The Article talks about the different cultural patterns existing in same corporation at same time. This article supports the argument by Sathe (1985) which says that although, the term “corporate culture” is used as if organisations have a monolithic culture, most companies have more than one set of beliefs influencing the behaviour of employees. The Article also supports the Thompson’s (1997 a-c) theory who argues that same individual could be a member of different solidarities...
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