Engaging values in international business practice
Sandra L. Williams
College of Education, University of Illinois, 1310 S. Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820, U.S.A.
International business; Ethics; Cross-cultural; Work values; Organizational strategy
Abstract Managerial decisions and behaviors in theinternational business arena have ethical implications across cultures and countries. The need for ethics and core values in business practice has been heightened by continued business scandals and ethical managerial lapses that have violated public trust. Global businesses can offer practical guidance and set ethical examples for others to follow by establishing corporate values beyond writtenbusiness codes. Four key work values (Honesty, Fairness, Concern of Others, and Achievement) known to be present in businesses across cultures, are put forth as a baseline start for multinational corporation leaders. Offered is a process for making the core values unique to an organization, and for adopting and training managers in the use of core values. Presented is evidence of managerialimplementation of the core work values, and managers’ alignment of work values with organizational strategies. By addressing the values and principles of their workplaces, international businesses can achieve cross-cultural ethical practices, managerial alignment, and global social responsibility. # 2011 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.
1. Experiences, expectations, andworkplace values
Managers and business leaders constantly face professional decisions that have ethical implications related to organizations, employees, and customers (Tepper, 2010). As organizations expand and conduct business globally, those decisions affect a broader marketplace and a more diverse employee population. On what basis can managers make professional decisions that honor diversecultures, yet uphold ethical business standards? How can managers know
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what is right? What professional standards can be referenced when ethical decisions are not clearcut? Recent changes in international markets and networking technology have led to an explosion of corporations with global operations (Asgary & Mitschow, 2002). Theneed for global guidance on ethical business practices has grown commensurately. This article suggests the engagement of workplace values as a practical guide to ethical decisions by managers. Examples of individual managers’ perspectives on workplace values within multinational business settings are provided. Also outlined is a process for determining, adopting, and reinforcing workplace valuesfor managers operating in diverse business organizations.
0007-6813/$ — see front matter # 2011 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.02.004
S.L. Williams the development of the organizational forms of the future. Corporate values and the corporate expectations of managerial and employee conduct can be expressed in a policydocument identiﬁed as a corporate code of ethics (Cressey & Moore, 1983), a code of conduct (White & Montgomery, 1980), or a business code (Kaptein, 2004). The latter deﬁnes the conduct a corporation expects of its employees (Kaptein & Wempe, 2002) and clariﬁes the norms and values the organization upholds (Kaptein, 2004). In a study of the business codes of 200 multinational corporations, Kaptein(2004, p. 29) concluded that on paper, many companies ‘‘have an eye for responsible treatment [sic] along with the principles of values and norms that ground sound conduct,’’ but that the content of corporate business codes was highly varied. While organizations may explicitly state expected behaviors and ethical actions in business codes, a key factor in implementing any code is an environment that...