Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Business Ethics Perceptions of Russian Working Adults: Do Age, Gender, Education, and Various Work Experiences Make a Difference?

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Business Ethics Perceptions of Russian Working Adults: Do Age, Gender, Education, and Various Work Experiences Make a Difference?

Article excerpt

Business ethics and ethical behavior have received a great deal of attention from academic researchers, business leaders, community, and society (Burns, 2012). Business ethics issues such as conflict of interest, bribery, accounting fraud, consumer fraud, and so on, have become more complex and culturally diverse (Nguyen, Tran, Mujtaba, and Tran, 2014). An organization's cultural context influences ethical issues (Deshpande, 1996; Victor and Cullen, 1990; Wimbush and Shepard, 1994). Managers need to be able to recognize ethical issues and the organizational and individual factors that influence individual ethical behavior to deal with them more effectively and create an ethical organizational culture (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell, 2013). When everyone in a business from top to bottom line commits to high ethical standards, sustainable success can be expected and society can benefit from it as well (Conroy and Emerson, 2004).

This study examines the business ethics perceptions of Russian working adults based on age, gender, education, and government and work experience. The study of ethical issues in a Russian context is important for several reasons. First, ethical issues affect the results of business, particularly international business. Cordeiro (2003) wrote that "being unethical in any arena, but especially in the international arena, is both bad for business and bad business." The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (2012) report ed that globally a typical business organization "loses 5% of its annual revenue to fraud ... [which] translates to a potential total fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion." Second. Russian business ethics are changing with transitions from the Soviet Union's central planned economy to a market economy of Russia. Apressyan (1997) highlighted the "transitional character of the Russian economy and drastic changes in the social structure, ideology, and mentality of Russian society in general." Fie wrote that the influence of changes in the social-economic system has been ambivalent for social morals. Third, Russians and Americans have different ethical standards. Puffer (1994) explained that in Slavic cultures two sets of ethical standards have evolved, one for impersonal or official relationships and one for personal relationships. Thus, in Russia, "deceiving someone in a business transaction to achieve a desirable goal is not considered unethical, whereas deceiving a friend or colleague is considered unethical" (Beekun, Westerman, and Barghouti, 2005). In the U.S., deception is considered unethical in a more universal sense for both business and personal relationships. According to Puffer and McCarthy (1996), Russian managers perceive honesty as essential in personal but not in professional conduct. Russians differentiate unethical behavior for business with outsiders and unethical behavior with insiders. The highly utilitarian Russians would also focus on the maximum good for their in-group. In contrast, Americans would be concerned about treating everybody equally--whether insiders or outsiders.

The question of what is considered "wrong-right" or "good-bad" in business practices in Russia remains relatively unexplored in academic literature. This study focuses on executives', managers', students' and employees' perceptions of business ethics in Russia.

Literature Review

Ethics in different cultural contexts

Gift, Gift, and Zheng (2013) support the importance of research on business ethics in different countries by emphasizing "the role for ethical perceptions in future research, and further examination and inquiry into the development and adaptation of ethical perceptions in cross-cultural business dealings." They believe that when managers consider a business partnership with a foreign partner, their decisions may be influenced by the different ethical standards and behavioral processes underlying ethics across national cultures. Schein (1990) points out that simply telling a person in another culture that an action is unethical may alienate that person. …

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