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Ethical values help in identifying a particular people, company or nation. The ethical values are important, because they speak much concerning an organization. In a company, ethical values portray both the good or bad image of the organization. Different people, companies and nations uphold different ethical values. In this paper we will highlight the sources of differences in ethics between people, companies and nations.
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Ethics can be defined as principals that guide our morals, beliefs and values. These principals are applied daily when faced with different situations. They are the basis upon which decision can be made. It should be noted that ethics of a particular people, organization or nation go hand-in-hand with their laws. These guiding principles can further be divided into occupational, individual, organizational and societal ethics. Ethics are not static but change over time (Blackburn, 2001). For example, before the nineteenth century, in the nations such as United States, Greece and Rome, it was lawful and ethical to own slaves. However, in the course of the nineteenth century, philanthropists and other humanitarians such as William Wilberforce rose to fight slavery, terming it as inhuman. Slavery was therefore banned. In Britain, by 1830 the crimes related to slavery that would be punished by execution were three hundred and fifty. By 2000, there was none left.
There exist a number of ethical differences between people, companies and nations. We can divide the determinants that cause these ethical differences between companies and nations into four. They include individual ethics, occupational ethics, organizational ethics and societal ethics. Individual ethics are principals, values and standards that people apply to their own lives. Occupational benefits are guiding principles that govern a profession or a worker as he or she carries out his or her responsibility (Isbister, 2001). Organizational ethics involves the standards that are upheld in an organization to govern its operations as well as interaction with all relevant stakeholders. Finally, societal ethics are beliefs and practices of members of a society and how they apply these beliefs in their daily endeavors.
Ethical values vary in different societies, companies and nations. People hold different ethical values. In more developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, cases of vices like bribery are rare and considered unethical and illegal. However, in less developed countries such as Kenya and Uganda there are many cases of bribery. In developed countries, it is ethical for their employees to be treated with high regard while in developing countries most of the employees are looked down upon (McDaniel, 2004).
Ethics also differ in companies all over the world. There is a lot of child labor in poor countries of South America, Asia and Africa. In Pakistan, for example, cases of young children working in terrible conditions for long hours, making carpets and rugs, have been reported. Though child labor is against the laws in some of the developing countries, it does not seem unethical to most of the citizens. Societies also have varied ethics depending on their beliefs system. Different societies believe that rape, murder and stealing are unethical. However, some behaviors are considered controversial from one community to another. A behavior which may be seen as unethical by one society today may be termed as ethical by another society after a long time. This means that societies are at different levels of evolution and civilization (Blackburn, 2001).
It is important to note that ethical issues, though different, affect all stakeholders in the community. For communities to live harmoniously, it is important to embrace ethical behaviors. Ethics form the basis of the laws of the nation. In business, ethics is important in decision making. Moreover, ethical issues affect effectiveness, efficiency, increase profitability of businesses and enhance the well-being of nations.