Trompenaars of Brazil

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Culture Pages: 13 (7326 words) Published: October 17, 2014
Business Ethics in Brazil
and the U.S.:
A Comparative Investigation

ABSTRACT. In this comparative survey of 126
Brazilian and U.S. business professionals, we explore
the effect of national culture on ethical decisionmaking within the context of business. Using Reidenbach and Robin’s (1988) multi-criteria ethics
instrument, we examined how these two countries’
differences on Hofstede’s individualism/collectivism
Rafik I. Beekun (Ph.D., The University of Texas, Austin)
is Professor of Management and Strategy in the
Managerial Sciences Department at the University of
Nevada, Reno. His current research interests are in the
area of strategic adaptation, the link between national
cultures and ethics, and the relationship between management and spirituality. He has published in such journals as Journal of Applied Psychology, Human
Relations, Journal of Management and Decision
Sciences. Correspondence regarding this article should
be sent to him at: Managerial Sciences Department,
Mail Stop 28, University of Nevada, Reno, NV
89557-0206.
Yvonne Stedham (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is an
Associate Professor of Management in the Managerial
Sciences Department at the University of Nevada, Reno.
She has published in such journals as the Journal of
Management and Journal of Management Studies.
Dr. Stedham’s research focuses on the following areas:
CEO performance evaluation, gender discrimination in
employment, ethics in business, decision making across
cultures, and managing knowledge workers.
Jeanne H. Yamamura (CPA, Ph.D., Washington State
University) is an Associate Professor of Accounting in
the College of Business at the University of Nevada
Reno. Her teaching responsibilities include auditing and
accounting information systems courses. Dr. Yamamura’s
research focuses on the management of accounting professionals with a particular interest in cross-cultural differences and her work has been published in accounting
and business journals. She has extensive practical experience in the field of accounting through her previous employment in public and private accounting.

Rafik I. Beekun
Yvonne Stedham
Jeanne H. Yamamura

dimension are related to the manner in which business
practitioners make ethical decisions. Our results
indicate that Brazilians and Americans evaluate the
ethical content of actions or decisions differently
when applying utilitarian criteria. By contrast,
business people from both countries do not differ significantly when they use egoistic criteria in evaluating the ethical nature of business decisions.
KEY WORDS: Brazil, egoism, ethics, national
culture, U.S., utilitarianism

As business organizations move from domestic to
global and transnational competition, they are
finding that cultural values vary significantly
across national boundaries, and are likely to affect
business practices (Husted, 2000). During the
past decade, several researchers (Ferrell and
Gresham, 1985; Hunt et al., 1989; Abratt et al.,
1992; Hunt and Vitell, 1992; Tsalikis and
Nwachukwu, 1991; Vitell et al., 1993) have
noted the potential influence of national culture
on ethics within a business context. What
obscures the impact of national culture on ethics
is that business practices may conflict with ethical
values in a manner that medicine, law and government do not (DeGeorge, 1993). Not surprisingly, empirical research investigating the relationship between national culture and ethical
decision-making is relatively sparse (Vitell et al.,
1993).
A primary reason for exploring the effects of
culture on ethics is the increased globalization
of business. This trend, in turn, is characterized
by a diverse array of interorganizational arrangements that require cross-cultural interaction. As a result, cultural misunderstandings are likely to
occur. One of the key areas where such mis-

Journal of Business Ethics 42: 267–279, 2003.
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed...
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