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Building Ethical Business Cultures: BRIC by BRIC

March 10, 2013 • Corporate Governance, Global Business, LEADERSHIP, Social Impact, STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT, SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICS

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As the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRICs) continue to grow both in size and clout, and their resident multinational corporations become major players in global markets, questions pertaining to trust and integrity, and of universally shared standards for ethical business behavior become important concerns for numerous stakeholders. Whether or not managers and employees behave ethically depends on how one defines ethical behavior and applies it to an organization’s culture. We start this article by discussing attributes of ethical business behavior and cultures in each of the four BRICs countries, and then present results of our recent large scale survey-based studies, comparing managers’ and employees’ perceptions of ethical cultures in BRICs and in economically developed Western economies.

 

Scanning the Global Environment

Issues of managing corporate culture have long been among central concerns to executives around the world.1 In recent years, the discussion of ethical corporate cultures came to the forefront. Among the reasons for this growing interest was the realization that the global financial and economic crisis of 2008-2009 was triggered, among other things, by major ethics violations at large multinational corporations and financial institutions; and that, while the negative impact of business activity on the global ecosystem and local communities is rapidly escalating, corporations governed by questionable cultures of ethical behavior are much more likely to behave in irresponsible and unsustainable ways. The importance of promoting ethical cultures in large business organizations from BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) cannot be overstated: it is projected that by 2050 the combined GDP of these four countries will be larger than that of the G7 (seven largest developed economies of the world), and multinationals from BRICs are already playing a major role in shaping the way business is done globally.



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