What difference do cultural perspectives have on ethical behaviour? This week’s research tidbits takes a look.

CSR initiatives in Europe: One vision, different paths  
This comparative study explores 499 CSR initiatives implemented by 178 corporations in five distinct, institutionally consistent European clusters. This study provides an empirically grounded response to calls to develop comprehensive, nuanced pictures of CSR in the composite European business environment.

In so doing, the article stresses three distinct, non-exclusive approaches that characterise the embedding of CSR considerations in corporations’ strategies across Europe and the CSR challenges for corporations operating in different socio-political contexts.

Furthermore, the study reaffirms the CSR notion as a contextualized concept, shaped by socio-political drivers, and contributes by bridging macro-level, socio-political facets of CSR with its meso-level, organizational implications.

Maon, F., Swaen, V. and Lindgreen, A.  2017. One Vision, Different Paths: An Investigation of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in Europe.  
Journal of Business Ethics, 143(2), 405–422.


How ethically would Americans and Chinese negotiate? 
A growing body of research has started to examine how individuals from different countries may differ in their use of ethically questionable tactics during business negotiations. Whereas prior research focused on the main effect of the national culture or nationality of the negotiator, authors Yang et al. add a new factor, which is the nationality of the counterpart.

Looking at both these variables allows us to examine whether and how people may change their likelihood of using ethically questionable tactics in inter-cultural negotiations as opposed to intra-cultural ones.

Results of an experiment (N = 810) show that overall, American participants were less likely than Chinese participants to use ethically questionable tactics in negotiations. However, American participants were more likely to use ethically questionable tactics, particularly those related to false promises and inappropriate information gathering, in inter-cultural negotiations with Chinese counterparts, than in intra-cultural negotiations with American counterparts.

By contrast, Chinese participants were less likely to use ethically questionable tactics, particularly those related to false promises and attacking opponent’s network, in inter-cultural negotiations with American counterparts, than in intra-cultural negotiations with Chinese counterparts. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Yu Yang, David De Cremer and Chao Wang. 2017. How Ethically Would Americans and Chinese Negotiate? The Effect of Intra-cultural Versus Inter-cultural Negotiations. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 145(3), 659–670.


Collectivism, attitude toward business, religious beliefs and consumer ethics in China 
Chinese consumers comprise a unique subculture that exerts a considerable influence on the market and are treated as a collective group by researchers. However, few studies have examined the effects of collectivism and consumer attitudinal attributes on consumer ethics.

Although the practice of religion was prohibited in China before economic reforms in the late 1970s, religion remains a major factor that affects the ethical judgment of consumers. The present study, based on the Hunt–Vitell model, examines the influence of culture (collectivism and religion) and personal characteristics (attitude toward business) on consumer ethics.

A total of 284 Chinese consumers were surveyed. Structural equation modelling was used to test hypothesized relationships in the research model. The results indicate that collectivism had a significant explanatory power for four dimensions of consumer ethical beliefs:
(a) actively benefiting from illegal activities;
(b) passively benefiting from questionable activities;
(c) actively benefiting from deceptive legal activities; and
(d) engaging in no harm and no foul activities.

However, consumer attitude toward business significantly explained only the passive dimension of consumer ethics, and religious beliefs significantly explained only the active dimension of consumer ethical beliefs.

Chun-Chen Huang and Long-Chuan Lu. 2017. Examining the Roles of Collectivism, Attitude Toward Business, and Religious Beliefs on Consumer Ethics in China. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(3), 505–514.


Ethical leadership and loyalty to supervisor in China 
This study examines the relation of ethical leadership with loyalty to supervisor, as well as mediating (interactional justice) and moderating (collectivistic orientation) variables of this relation by proposing a moderated mediation model. Specifically, Wang et al. employed time-lagged research design to collect two waves of data from 395 supervisor-subordinate dyads in 74 teams, and used multilevel structural equation modelling to test the moderated mediation model.

Results indicated that ethical leadership was positively related to loyalty to supervisor, interactional justice mediated the relationship between ethical leadership and loyalty to supervisor, and collectivistic orientation moderated the relationship between ethical leadership and interactional justice.

Moreover, collectivistic orientation moderated the strength of the indirect effect of ethical leadership on loyalty to supervisor (through interactional justice), and the mediated relationship was stronger for high collectivistic subordinates than for low collectivistic subordinates. Theoretical and practical implications and future research directions were discussed.

Huaiyong Wang, Guangli Lu and Yongfang Liu. 2017. Ethical Leadership and Loyalty to Supervisor in China: The Roles of Interactional Justice and Collectivistic Orientation.  
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(3), 529–543.


Perceptions of unethical behaviour in Russia, Portugal and the US 
Most studies investigating the relationship between cultural constructs and ethical perception have focused on individual- and societal-level values without much attention to other type of cultural constructs such as social beliefs. In addition, the authors need to better understand how social beliefs are linked to ethical perception and the level of analysis at which social beliefs may best predict ethical perceptions.

This research contributes to the cross-cultural ethical perception literature by examining the relationship of individual-level social cynicism belief, one of five universally endorsed social beliefs, together with individual social dominance orientation and the perception of unethical behaviour. By means of two studies, Alexandra and her team examine these relationships across societies that significantly differ on societal-level social cynicism belief.

Using 371 business students from Russia and the U.S. in Study 1 and 268 professionals from Portugal and the U.S. in Study 2, the researchers found that individual-level social cynicism belief was positively associated with social dominance orientation. Social dominance orientation, in turn, mediated the relationship between individual social cynicism belief and the perception of unethical behaviour.

Although the research team found significant societal-level differences in social cynicism belief in both studies, the relationships between individual-level social cynicism belief, social dominance orientation, and the perception of unethical behaviour were structurally equivalent across societies in both studies, suggesting that societal-level differences did not significantly affect these relationships. Implications for cross-cultural business ethics research and practice are discussed.

Valerie Alexandra, Miguel M. Torres, Olga Kovbasyuk, Theophilus B. A. Addo and Maria Cristina Ferreira. 2017.  The Relationship Between Social Cynicism Belief, Social Dominance Orientation, and the Perception of Unethical Behavior: A Cross-Cultural Examination in Russia, Portugal, and the United States. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(3), 545–562.


Rebuilding trust: Ireland’s CSR plan in the light of Caritas in Veritate 
This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on national corporate social responsibility (CSR) plans from the perspectives of the three logics as articulated in Caritas in Veritate, by using the Irish national CSR plan as an example.

Good for Business, Good for the Community: Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2014–2016 maintains that CSR activities can enable organisations to build relationships and trust with communities. One of the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis was the decrease in trust in banking systems and in business more broadly.

It is well recognised that relationships of trust are essential to the life of the market, the state and civil society. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate contends that corresponding to the life of the market, the state and civil society are three logics: the logic of exchange (i.e. giving to acquire), the logic of public obligation (i.e. giving through duty) and the logic of gift (i.e. giving due to solidarity).

This paper proposes that the normative framework of the three logics of Caritas in Veritate can be read into the Irish national CSR plan. This paper argues that the examples of CSR initiatives proffered by the plan could point organisations in the direction of the logic of gift and therefore enable the rebuilding of relationships of trust with citizens and communities.

Read this article online in full for free

Alan J. Kearns. 2017. Rebuilding Trust: Ireland’s CSR Plan in the Light of Caritas in Veritate. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 845–857.