A) The American society is less ethical than the Japanese one
1) What is the ethical responsibility?
There is a genuine gap between the USA and the rest of the developed and capitalist countries about ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) : even if the interest in CSR has increased in Japan, public and business interests in businessethics and CSR have increased even more in America. The first explanation for this growing interest and for this difference is that there is more misconduct to worry about because the American society is less and less ethical. Moreover, unethical behaviour is more likely to be exposed and become a genuine scandal in the USA than in Japan which is a more formal and wise society. To sum up, Americansseem less ethically responsible.
But what is the ethical responsibility? Responsibility is a complex issue composed of different elements. First of all, it includes the elements of fulfilling obligations and abiding by the law. It is also the fact to be accountable to other people but over all the fact to be accountable to one's own conscience. According to this definition and all its ideas,Americans do not seem really very ethically responsible. They do not hesitate to transgress some rules or even their own values in order to make profits and to take a competitive advantage.
2) Several cases of business scandals
Several scandals permit to illustrate this idea. A series of ethical corporate scandals have damaged public confidence in business in the USA. For instance, Enron whichwas one of the world's leading energy company and the seventh largest American firm, went bankrupt in December 2001. This event and this collapse are the second largest corporate bankruptcy of the American history. But why this big corporation collapsed? The firm had created offshore entities in order to look more profitable than it actually was, even if it was strictly forbidden. When the scandalbroke after this accounting fraud, investors realized that Enron had lied and was not socially responsible. Enron has since become the symbol of wilful corporate fraud. The scandal was also a factor in the creation of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act in 2002. This new law introduced big changes to corporate governance and the regulation of financial practice. However, America remains the hotbed ofcapitalism and human greed in the mentalities. There are many other examples of scandals in the USA and not only corporate ones. Some politicians at the state-level have been involved in political corruption scandals. For example, Rod Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, has been under indictment for political corruption, conspiracy and bribery. Political scandals are not new in the American history :everybody knows what President Nixon did during Watergate. The worst is that these scandals are certainly the public tip of the iceberg of corruption. There are also some companies which do not respect some key values that are deep rooted into the American society. All these scandals tarnish business and political leaders in the USA and create psychological trauma in the American society.
Therecent business scandals in the USA show well that the American society is less and less ethical. These scandals are over all financial ones and are due to the development of Wall Street in the 1980's. Moreover, the majority of these cases are due to illegal use of stock market information. It is the case of Xerox or Worldcom which have committed accounting irregularities. Even if corporategovernance rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody's and Fitch Ratings or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency that regulates the financial market, condemn this kind of behaviour, business scandals are multiplying and increasing. This period is even called the “decade of greed” in the USA. These scandals in the business community have destroyed some of the...