Cultural Relativism in Business

1590 Words Jul 20th, 2011 7 Pages
Business And Islamic Ethics

Topic: Cultural Relativism In Business

Submitted to: Mr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khalil

Submitted by: Waqas Shehzad

Class: BBA 5D

Cultural Relativism:
Cultural relativism is the view that all beliefs are equally valid and that truth itself is relative, depending on the situation, environment, and individual. Those who hold to cultural relativism hold that all religious, ethical, aesthetic, and political beliefs are completely relative to the individual within a cultural identity. Cultural relativism (CR) says that good and bad are relative to culture. What is "good" is what is "socially approved" in a given culture. Our moral principles describe social conventions and must be based on the norms of our society.
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This observation is supported by Nyaw and Ng (1994) who found that Hong Kong managers are more tolerant of unethical behavior towards customers and suppliers than Canadian managers. At a corporate level, deception of various forms has been observed among East Asians (Tung, 1994). For instance, the Japanese speak with soft-spoken voices so that their American counterparts underestimate their tenacity. In the process of gathering market intelligence, some East Asian firms spread erroneous information to contaminate and frustrate competitors' strategies.

We must change the focus of business ethics away from primary emphasis on Western ethics toward a deeper understanding of value systems that stem from different conceptions of human nature. We need to abandon the project of universalizing ethics along Western lines.

Cultural Relativism and Business Options:
Given the concept of cultural relativism, business executives can take one of three choices:
(1) insist on uniform standards worldwide, or
(2) tailor or adjust the companys standards of conduct for each locale, or
(3) decide on each instance on a situation by situation basis.

The problem with insisting on common worldwide standards is that local customs in foreign cultures may be trampled