Poll: Local Ethics in a Global Business World

Last Updated Apr 30, 2008 6:44 PM EDT

Are ethics absolute, or are they dictated by the context of the society in which the actions take place? If you're doing business in a foreign land where facilitation payments - read: bribes - are a standard part of life, is it acceptable for you (and your company) to follow this local custom?

This is a subject addressed in the latest issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, which examines the clash between Western societies, who take their ethical basis from the ancient Greeks, and our friends in the East, who draw from the teachings of Confucius.

In this global business economy, knowing and honoring local social customs is part of the game - you have to know when to bow and when to shake hands, when to remove your shoes and when to avoid eye contact. But should the same apply to local ethics customs?[poll id=43]

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.