Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Business Students and Ethics: A Cross-Cultural Study between the U.S. and Vietnam

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Business Students and Ethics: A Cross-Cultural Study between the U.S. and Vietnam

Article excerpt

The turn to a new century marked a new era for the business world. It has become more globalized, complex, and culturally diverse. So has business ethics. Stakeholders of all kinds, including the business community and society, have scrutinized the ethical behavior of leaders, managers, employees, and the entire business more than ever (Burns, 2012). Recent ethical misconducts by business and government leaders across the globe have become a major concern and threaten the sustainable development of business and society. Since ethical decision-making is important for business organizations trying to operate successfully in a globalized context, and since there is no universally accepted method for handling ethical issues, clearly understanding and properly dealing with global ethical issues has become a strategic capability of business leaders and managers (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell, 2015). The key to creating and maintaining an ethical organizational culture is to have ethical employees at all levels of the business.

This study examined attitudes toward business ethics of U.S. and Vietnamese students for several reasons. First, perceptions of business ethics by U.S. business students and managers has already been compared with those from several other countries, such as China, Finland, Israel, Western Australia, South Africa, Turkey, etc. (Preble and Reichel, 1988; Comegys, Vaisanen, Lupton, and Rawlinson, 2013; Sims and Gegez, 2004). However, a comparison between the U.S. and Vietnam has not been made adequately. Second, Vietnam, an emerging economy in Southeast Asia with a much improved investment environment and a stable political environment over the past few decades, has become a strategic partner of the U.S. in this region. Therefore, it is crucial for the U.S. as well as global leaders, entrepreneurs, and the like, to have a better understanding of the Vietnamese culture, business practices, and ethical standards (Nguyen, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2015). Finally, there is a need for cross-cultural studies that use a widely accepted survey instrument in a different cultural context. A comparison of the attitudes of business students from two different cultures, i.e., low-context (the U.S.) and high-context (Vietnam), using the same questionnaire served this purpose well.

Literature Review

The U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relation

If you put the words "the U.S." and "Vietnam" in the same sentence, many people would immediately think about the Vietnam War even though it was ended 40 years ago. Today, the U.S. and Vietnam are strategic partners and their bilateral relationship has been strengthened remarkably since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1995. The U.S. Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, which became effective in 2001, has made Vietnam a significant trading partner for the U.S. Figure 1 shows U.S. and Vietnam trade volumes since 1992, raising from $4.6 million to $33.08 billion ($5.13 billion in exports and $27.95 billion in imports) by the end of 2014.

According to Daniel Baer, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, relations between Vietnam and the United States have improved through trade, travel, and cultural connections since normalization (Baer, 2013). In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang agreed on a "comprehensive partnership" to mark another milestone of the bilateral relation, thanks to a shared concern about Vietnam's northern neighbor, China, and its alarming activities in the South China Sea (Manyin, 2014). U.S. Vietnam bilateral relations are expected to be strengthened further in the future since both countries have a lot of mutual interests. For the U.S., "growing trade and investment flows, the population of more than 1 million Americans of Vietnamese descent, the legacy of the Vietnam War, the perception that Vietnam is becoming a "middle power" with commensurate influence in Southeast Asia, and shared concern over the rising strength of China" are among its main interests (Manyin, 2014). …

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