Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 116, Issue 4, pp 689–701 | Cite as

The Cultural Roots of Ethical Conflicts in Global Business

  • Carlos J. Sanchez-RundeEmail author
  • Luciara Nardon
  • Richard M. Steers


This study examines the cultural roots of ethical conflicts in the global business environment. It begins with a brief look at worldviews on ethical behavior in general. Based on this, it is argued that an in-depth understanding of ethical conflicts has been hampered by an overreliance on Western models and viewpoints. Three common sources, or bases, of ethical conflicts are discussed as they relate to business practices, including conflicts over tastes and preferences, the relative importance of moral imperatives compared to legal requirements, and people’s level of tolerance for different values among others. It is then argued that an understanding of ethical conflicts can be facilitated through different levels of understanding, including the meaning of universal values, the relationship between values and practices, and the existence of multiple levels of conflict within the same organizations or industries. These specific and interrelated ingredients in cross-cultural ethical conflicts form the basis for a broader discussion of the meaning of truth as it relates to such conflicts. The paper concludes with the need for more research that is cross-cultural and multidisciplinary in order to improve theory building and managerial practice.


Ethical conflicts Culture Cross-cultural management Global business 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos J. Sanchez-Runde
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luciara Nardon
    • 2
  • Richard M. Steers
    • 3
  1. 1.IESE Business SchoolUniversity of NavarraMadridSpain
  2. 2.Sprott School of BusinessUniversity of CarletonOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Lundquist College of BusinessUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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