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Ethical Dilemmas in Multinational Companies


Multinational companies often face various ethical dilemmas, which depend on the core business values and a set of rules that enforce equity. For instance, should business firms consider international employees as equal business entities or people of different ethical statuses? Arguably, there is a huge predicament associated with the definition of internationally acceptable ethics due to the existence of different beliefs and values. Ethical standards are required to solve ethical dilemmas that different multinational companies face. Globally, people are keen to discover their ethical differences as they unearth the lost magnificence of culture, but the cultural hunt causes more difficulty in the establishment of a globally acceptable ethical code of business conduct (Jennings, 2008).

Ethical dilemmas facing multinational companies

First, the issue of gender equality is facing a total transformation in the majority of the global countries, but some still hold the notion that women belong to the second-class level about customs. The obligations of such women to company duties are quite different and consequently, they have different responses to situations, contrary to normal firm prospects.

Secondly, the issue of corruption and bribery is a major international ethical dilemma. Some companies have very strict rules on the issue of receiving gifts, while in some it seems a custom to accept and perhaps demand for the ‘gifts’ before or after delivery of service in other countries. The gifts often turn out as bribes that offend potential business investors, partners, and clients.

Lastly is the relationship between the first world (developed) and third world (developing) countries. Major companies often in developed countries take advantage of the ability to capture the excessively qualified personnel from other countries, particularly from the under-developed countries. In line with Jennings (2008), gigantic companies may also take advantage of underpaying those in the field that are more sought after, thus disturbing their conscience and compromising the business obligations towards employees’ standards.

Passport Processing Scenario

There are various reasons why people often encounter ethical dilemmas. In the case scenario where a passport-processing officer requests a bribe to speed up a delay, his/her reason would be the need for personal gain, selfishness, or probably failure to appreciate and cope with international rules that govern cultural differences. Bearing in mind that this situation arises in a third-world country, the travel-clearance personnel may be taking advantage of the deliberation that there are obvious economic differences between developed and developing countries.

Initially, I would probably consider the importance of promoting international business standards or the need to encourage international business regulations, such as zero-tolerance to corruption. However, I would most likely part with the $50.00 bill considering that probably less stringent laws against such operations are common practices in the west-Africa countries, and thus a follow-up would probably cause more delays. This is an ethical dilemma I have to contemplate upon since the conditions that I might be considering as normal may conflict with the country’s legal practices and responses to such crimes. Perhaps lower standards of dealing with corruption are practiced in the country, and thus the reason the employee has the fortitude to ask for the enticement.

There is a need to ensure enforcement of global ethical behaviors, especially as a measure of ensuring consensus of building internationally standardized services, which are free of extra consequences such as cost and time. However, the cultural and ethical differences delineate situational decisions.

According to Boatright (2009), it is important to understand that although different cultures seem to have respect for individuals’ freedom of justice and equality, there is a varying degree across ethical and traditional boundaries. Countries may be sharing ethical values but have different styles of expressing their importance.


Boatright, J. R. (2009). Ethics and the conduct of business. (Sixth edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Prentice Hall.

Jennings, M. M. (2008). Foundations of the Legal Environment of Business. Ohio, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

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