Management Consulting/Ethics


describe what the positive and negative ethical aspects of international business

Hello Deanna,
Thanks for your question.

Normally I have sufficient experience and background to answer questions directly but for this one on the topic of international business ethics I had to do some research.  In the process of doing so I found the information below that certainly covers the topic, well beyond my expertise.

So I decided to pass it along to you.  I believe it will address your question fully.  I thought it was very well written and insightful.  Although it was written in 2009, I found it rather accurate and current in addressing international business ethics.  Please let me know if you need further information and I will be glad to assist.


Article: “The Role of Ethics in International Business”,   December 16, 2009.  By Carlo Scevola & Partners.

International business ethics has a number of open questions and dilemmas. Today it is characterized by the following elements:

• Every culture and nation has its own values, history, customs and traditions, thus it has developed own ethical values and understanding of ethical principles;
• There is no international ethical code of conduct, accepted and followed by all the countries;
• There is a lack of governments’ initiative to create ethical cooperation framework and thus to enhance ethical behavior in international business;
• It is hard to outline those ethical values which would be understandable, acceptable and important for representatives of all the continents simultaneously within different types of international cooperation projects.

Financial crisis of 2007-2008 underlined importance of ethical behavior. It is no longer enough to be knowledgeable and experienced in a particular domain, in order to act professionally. Professionalism also consists in ethical behavior, honesty, compliance and integrity. How to ensure such a working style at all times in long-term and why it is necessary to do so?

First of all, ethical behavior combined with skills and professionalism is able to ensure sustainable development, rather than a short-term profit, which brings disastrous results after a certain period of time. Ethical behavior ensures awareness and concern for the future and for the right way of action in each particular situation. Secondly, ethical behavior establishes a healthy and pleasant cooperation climate for all the parties involved in a deal, making them feel comfortable with each other. Thirdly, acting in accordance with moral values is crucial for deserving clients’ attention and support and achieving a significant competitive advantage in a particular market segment.

So, after having identified that ethics is a must in international business, let us pass to a more complicated domain – how to implement ethical behavior in practice in long term. Should an individual follow one’s own ethical convictions, in order to act ethically in international business? Should every company create its ethical code of conduct and monitor its employees’ compliance at all times? If so, how to achieve it? And what happens when two individuals or two companies with different codes of conduct meet for cooperation? How to ensure ethical behavior, in case ethical values and principles do not coincide?

These are very important questions, which business and academic world participants have been trying to answer for long years. As anything else in business, it is not always possible to find out a single 100% right answer to every question. Everyone proposes its personal point of view, based upon research, perception, understandings, experiments and experience.

Having read a significant number of books and academic articles on this topic, having cooperated with individuals and corporate bodies from different countries of all the world’s continents, I suggest the following approach to international business ethics:

• Every individual and every corporate body must outline its ethical values;
• Every individual and company should ensure understanding of ethical values and belief in their effectiveness and importance;
• Employees of every organization must participate in creating a corporate code of conduct, which in this case definitely represents corporate culture, rather than only personal views of a company’s leader;
• Every individual and company must monitor compliance with the outlined values at all times;
• All the ethical values must be divided in two categories – rigid and flexible. Rigid are those values which cannot be renounced under any circumstances (honesty, integrity, professionalism), and flexible ones, which are those moral principles which may be interpreted in different ways in different situations (will to understand other cultures’ values, remuneration policies).

In such a way, when foreign bodies with different ethical codes of conduct meet, they are able to create an effective common ethical cooperation framework, keeping rigid values unchanged and adapting flexible moral principles. Such an approach is able to ensure every involved party’s accordance and satisfaction with the created ethical cooperation framework for that particular project without violating personal convictions.

I strongly believe that it is one of the most effective ways of ensuring ethical behavior in international business, which is effective at individual, corporate, state and supranational levels.

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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. Topic categories would include Employment Practice, Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Diversity Management, Performance Management, Talent and Career Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Can’t answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that may surface that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. I successfully held corporate leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region I created and led the Asia Pacific level H.R. team, the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managed the Asia Pacific key leaders process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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