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Bribery and corruption is a way of life in many countries. These practices affect the way international business is regularly conducted. However, in most of these countries, it is illegal to offer or receive bribes or engage in corrupt practices. Yet corrupt practices are a part of the ‘culture’ of ‘doing businesses. Unless companies ‘conform’ to such practices, in many cases, international business cannot be transacted.

This essay will attempt to provide discussion about bribery and corruption in international trade example in vary different point of view in according to the principal ethical system suchlike religious, philosophical and ‘natural’. It will be analyse the case of Siemens bribery scandal related to ethical issues.

Bribery is a most important issue of concern to many companies. Incident of bribery vary across many countries but everyone has a different concept about it as Hong Kong and Greek managers are less critical of bribery in certain situations than Americas. Paying bribery carries with it a great risk to damaging the company reputation with the country which the briberies are paid and at home. Moreover, there is also the risk that the corporate culture of the company will become more open-minded of several of other practices at the legal issues. There is also evidence to suggest that those countries with the reputation for bribery and corruption damage themselves as it reflects in their economic growth has a low rates for high level of corruption suchlike Nigeria.

Corruption can be grand in which run through government ministers, head of state and senior officials, it is al about distortion of decision making “where there is a lot of government, there is a lot of bribery.” (The Economist 2006 p132). On the other hand, petty corruption run through immigration officers or low paid officers is done by remove democracy delays. The distinction between international and domestic corruption is that normally international is involved with grand corruption and petty corruption is involved in domestic corruption. “Bribery of public officials takes place to obtain government contracts or to get officials to do what they should be doing anyway”

The problem of countries that uses a legal basis for ethical behaviour is that laws vary between countries. Not all moral values are common to every culture and strong governments may try to impose their legal and ethical practices to the foreign countries.

Nevertheless, companies that do business with United States are facing difficult enforcement of laws against overseas bribery “there really is a firm belief that corruption undermines democracy and is bad for business” (Financial Times 2007 p5). It believes with all current merges and acquisitions have also led to more cases of bribery. The two managers of worked for Siemens in Munich Germany had been accused in laundered bribes to win Siemens business in some of the 190 countries in which it operates. “It is investigating $420m of suspicious payments to consultant over the past seven years.” (The Economist 2006 p79) consequently, Siemens announced new measures to show how determine it is to change its culture. The task for Siemens is to continue business as usual elsewhere.

Religion must be differentiating from ethics, if the business is to be able to concentrate on truly ethical concerns. The most religions have a moral codes but ethics and religion are not the same thing. The religion differ from ethics because religion believes in connection with divine or with saving souls. Religion can affect business in many ways. Religious principles can rule specific business areas as unacceptable to the faith suchlike Muslim are not allowed to charge interest and therefore may not be conventional bankers. Religion can even condemn the purpose of some business. However, religion cannot change the purpose of the business or what count in consequence as proper business conduct.

Because the requirements of religion are frequently believed to be equal with this in ethics, ethics is often misunderstood with sacrifice, struggle or altruism. However, business do not have to involve none of them. Commonly, people confused business ethics is a concept that suffering is essential to morality.

One of the purposes in life for Christians is serving and loving God and the way to serve and love God is by follow the steps of Jesus of Nazareth which has in the Bible, by doing so Christians will find the highest virtue that is love. For the Jew, one serves and loves God also but through actions of justice and virtue. This commitment gives a sense of responsibility to family and community. Roman Catholicism has a tradition of formally applying values to moral aspect of industrial relations as Pope John Paul II asked to rich countries to forgive debt from poor countries.

Religion has not only formal systems with codes but also instruction for social relationships as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” called “Golden Rule” and many other can be found in all great religious of the world

Immanuel Kant proposes that no matter what are the consequences may be or who did it, but some actions are always wrong. “rules to follow in moral decision making, rules that do not depend on circumstances or results and that do not permit individual exceptions.” (Shaw & Barry 2004 p69) Kant introduces in the business as well an important human aspect into business. For not being mean as Utilitarian point of view and egoist Kant’s principle clearly want business to consider more human as today with all those technology and computerisation tend to dehumanise putting his theory in the organisations decision making. Moreover, Kant point out the importance of the motivation is not enough only doing the right but the individual must do the right thing from desire to do the right thing for its own sake.

John Stuart Mill believes “utility, or the greatest happiness principal” (Larmer 2002 p35) which greatest happiness for greatest people means does not matter if it is right or wrong good or bad the important is the most of people are happy as utilitarian rules happiness is the only thing that is good.

Adam Smith in the Theory of the moral sentiment believes that as human born with a moral sense a conscience sense of right and wrong not only the acts but also feeling. It is all about being human being as natural to have sense of beauty, harmony and other human feelings.

Ethical Relativism “some people do not believe that morality boils down religion but rather that it is just a function of what a particular society happens to believe. What is right is determine by what a culture or society says is right.” (Shaw & Barry 2004 p12) because what might be right in one place might be wrong in another place, there is only one criterion to distinguish right from wrong is in the moral system in the certain society. For example, abortion is condemned as wrong by Catholic Ireland but is morally neutral form of birth control for Japan. For the ethical relativist there is no wrong or right this is completely independent of cultural context. It is necessary to have a open mind to viewing other cultures.

Evolutionary Biologist has everything to do about survival humans when see themselves in a threatened situation will change them behaviour and this change in behaviour is likely to happen ethical considerations to one side. Sometimes, bribery occurs because the employee is been through a bad situation with daughter sick from a very rare sickness which is quite expensive to pay for her medications, her father earn just the minimum wage so he will find in a situation that he asked for pay rise but he boss could not pay, so for survival he need to accept that actions which he has thought to be wrong all life everything in behalf of his daughter. What does it means for business point of view for a survival of a business it is expected to adopt different standards of behaviour than when they are in better situation. When survival threatened firms will behave as they not really now the ethical issues.

In conclusion, it is believed that in some instances, bribery can be justified by corporations and their employee. Although is considerate an unacceptable practice in for instance, United Stated but in many countries it is either legal or acceptable part of the business. When companies doing business that are simple standards of business that are culturally acceptable in them. However, in fact, t is illegal for USA companies pay bribery in foreign companies, seems that USA government is trying to impose its own standards to other country but it is clear that when is necessary to do the paying when they are based n the local.

Ethical practices is the great importance for business because once companies is caught doing bribery is a long way back to get the reputation as it can be seen in the case o Siemens. Paying bribery may be necessary sometimes in order for companies to compete effectively on the international market. Many companies are put into situations of either pay bribery or being refused the opportunity to operates at all in this certain countries


‘Business: Anti-Corruption Measures Siemens Belatedly Wakes up to Reputation Risk’ 2006, The Economist, December 13th, no 8508, vol. 381

Daniel, J & Radebough, L & Sullivan, D 2007, International Business Environment and Operations, 11th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, USA

Larmer, R 2002, Ethics in the Work Place: Selected Readings in Business Ethics, 2nd Edition, Wandsworth Thonson Learning, USA

Masters, Brooke 2007, ‘Corporate Corruption: US Steps up Overseas Bribery Crackdown’, Financial Times, no. 36344

Shaw, W & Barry, V 2004, Moral Issue in Business, 9th Edition, Thomson Wadsworth, USA

‘The Etiquette of Bribery – How to Grease a Palm’ 2006, The Economist, December 23rd, no 8509, vol. 381


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