Compare and contrast Anglo-American, European and Asian approaches to the key questions of business ethics and assess critically their various merits.
Different nations and cultures have recently established research in the field of business ethics, as there is a rising awareness to the topic that profit is not the only goal to businesses. According to ENDERLE, it is business ethics that isestablished to “set barriers” and to “humanize business” (Enderle 1996). The United States where the first nation where studies of the field of business ethics could be observed in the early 70s. In the 80s, the topic arose in Europe as well as in Asia (Enderle 1996). Not only on the timeline are there differences between the ethics of the United States, Europe and Asia but also concerning thecultural heritage, the moral values and therefore the view on different topics and problems in the context of business ethics. VOGEL supports this by stating that business ethics “has not yet globalized” (Vogel Fall 1992). He also talks about “fundamental national differences” (Vogel Fall 1992). The different heritage and culture not only leads to different answers to certain questions in the context ofbusiness ethics but also to completely different approaches to the subjects. Different cultures have different focuses and actors concerning the ethics in enterprises. ENDERLE states, that Ethics are “deeply culture-bound” (Enderle 1996, p. 36). CHAN states that Ethics are strongly related “to a value system or religious belief“ (Chan et al. 01.08.2010, p. 40). In the following, differentapproaches shall be examined closer and shall be differentiated from each other. What is the impact of those different approaches at the world of business and what can be advantages of each approach?
The essay will not discuss practical solutions but different ways and viewpoints from which questions are approached and answers are evolved.
Before being able to compare different approaches to businessethics that are distinguished from each other through geography it has to be defined what is comprised in each term. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica Anglo-America comprises those parts of North America in which the cultural heritage derives from Northern Europe, especially England (Anglo-America 2010). It therefore comprises most of the US and the English-speaking Canada. Anglo-Americais therefore clearly delimited from South and Central America, whose cultural and ethical heritage may be different (Crane, Matten 2007, p. 18–19). In the following, the United States will be used as a synonym. The extension of Europe is not quite as clear. As Great Britain is closer to Anglo-America it is not included in Europe when it comes to the European approach of business ethics. Britain andIreland are therefore excluded and it is focused on continental Europe. This view is also introduced by Enderle (1996). Talking about business ethics in Asia is even more difficult, as Asia comprises many different countries and cultural heritages (Crane, Matten 2007, p. 30). As Asia stands for a huge geographical region, comprising huge parts of Russia, the Middle East as well as China, Japanand Far East areas, (Koehn 1999, p. 71) it is not given that it forms a homogeny group when it comes to ethics. As KOEHN states, it is very likely that this is not the case (Koehn 1999, p. 71). Hence, KOEHN (1999) argues that when discussing Asian values it is clearer to follow the thoughts of a particular thinker then to consider all as one. Despite that this work will not focus on a specificcountry in Asia but try to grasp the general approaches to business ethics based on thinkers or ideas that influenced the ethics and values of the people. These ideas can, to give some examples, origin in Hinduism, Confucianism or Buddhism (Crane, Matten 2007, p. 33) or to name thinkers Watsuji Tetsuro or Confucius (Koehn 1999, p. 73).
CRANE and MATTEN (Crane, Matten 01.01.2005, p. 30–32) identify...
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