Your Bribe Is His Investment

Research produced by America's best business schools.

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As more American businesspeople interact with corporate counterparts in the developing world, a question arises: Can two people from different cultures trust each other to keep similar ethical standards? Wendy Bailey and Andrew Spicer of the University of South Carolina studied the opinions of American and Russian business students and found that on fundamental questions of business ethics, there was plenty of common ground. When Does National Identity Matter? Convergence and Divergence in International Business Ethics, in the Academy of Management Journal, shows that, when asked to evaluate, for example, the ethics of a company that failed to inform its employees about exposure to hazardous chemicals, the Russians and Americans answered in very similar ways. The agreement was not complete, however. In response to questions about, for example, a firm that made a "modest personal payment" to a government employee in return for a contract, the researchers got different answers.