A selection of interesting articles we found recently looking at national culture and ethics.

Spirituality, moral identity, and consumer ethics: A multi-cultural study
This article presents the results of a cross-cultural study that examines the relationship between spirituality and a consumer’s ethical predisposition, and further examines the relationship between the internalisation of one’s moral identity and a consumer’s ethical predisposition. Finally, the moderating impact of cultural factors on the above relationships is tested using Hofstede’s five dimensions.

Data were gathered from young adult, well-educated consumers in five different countries, namely the U.S., France, Spain, India, and Egypt. The results indicate that the more spiritual an individual consumer is, the more likely that consumer is to be ethically predisposed. Furthermore, the stronger one’s internalisation of a moral identity, the more likely one is to be ethically predisposed. These two relationships are further moderated by Hofstede’s cultural factors such as the degree of collectivism versus individualism in the culture. However, the strength and direction of the moderation may vary depending upon the specific Hofstede dimension.

Read more at: Vitell, S.J., King, R.A., Howie, K. et al. Spirituality, Moral Identity, and Consumer Ethics: A Multi-cultural Study.
Journal of Business Ethics, 139(1), 147–160. 


National culture and privatisation: The relationship between collectivism and residual state ownership
Using a large hand-collected database of 605 privatised firms from 48 countries, Narjess Boubakri and colleagues examine the relationship between the collectivism measure of culture and residual state ownership in privatised firms. They find that the continued role of government in privatised firms is positively related to collectivism. This result is robust to using alternative measures of collectivism and government control, as well as when the researchers address the endogeneity of collectivism.

Finally, the authors examine the economic outcomes of culture at the firm level, focusing primarily on performance, efficiency, risk-taking, and valuation measures. Boubakri et al. report that privatised firms with high residual state ownership exhibit lower performance, valuation, efficiency, and risk-taking in collectivist societies. Results suggest that formal institutions are not, as sustained by previous studies, the main/exclusive constraints on the privatisation reform.

Find more at: Narjess Boubakri, Omrane Guedhami, Chuck C Y Kwok & Walid Saffar. 2016. National culture and privatisation: The relationship between collectivism and residual state ownership.
Journal of International Business Studies, 47(2), 170-190.


SMEs in their own right according to managers and workers in Vietnamese companies
This article contributes to the limited literatures on small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Using an institutional theoretical framework, Tran and Jeppesen analysed fieldwork interviews with twenty SMEs and perspectives of 165 SME managers and workers in textiles, garment, and footwear industries, the most important wage-earning sector in Vietnam.

Having understood in the context of a developing “market economy with socialist orientation” (thus a “Southern perspective”), the authors find that socially responsible practices and expectations developed long before the arrival of CSR as a western concept and an MNC agenda. While identifying and contributing ideas concerning forms of “informal” CSR practices—influenced by social and cultural expectations—to the CSR/SME literature, the authors are conscious of the mixed effects of these practices and the ongoing nuanced negotiations between workers and managers in these SMEs.

In this research, Tran and Jeppesen found that it takes both domestic and international stakeholders to improve labour conditions in Vietnam under the banner of CSR.

For more, see: Tran, A.N. & Jeppesen, S. 2016. SMEs in their Own Right: The Views of Managers and Workers in Vietnamese Textiles, Garment, and Footwear Companies.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(3): 589-608.


Establishing an ethical infrastructure in the Madrid region
The purpose of this study is to identify the elements that can be implemented to achieve an ethical infrastructure, in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The ethical infrastructure is considered as a set of formal and informal systems, leadership, climate and culture, related to ethical issues.

The research was carried out through interviews and focus groups with managers from 28 companies in Madrid, all signatories to the Global Compact. The identified key elements in SMEs are leadership, informal managerial and formal communication.

This study also explores different factors that influence the effectiveness, implementation, and sustainability of the ethical infrastructure in SMEs, discovering some factors that can act as both accelerators and barriers such as pressure from customers. Additional findings regarding the concepts of ethics and corporate social responsibility in SMEs, dilemmas and characteristics of the culture and climate are also presented.

Further details are at: Fernández, J.L. & Camacho. 2016. Effective Elements To Establish An Ethical Infrastructure: An Exploratory Study of SMEs in the Madrid Region.
Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 113–131.


Islamic values applied in quality management
Contemporary Islamic management scholars have agreed that values are embedded in quality management. Their agreement is grounded on the famous prophetic tradition encouraging diligence in work, uttered more than 1400 years ago, which has been narrated authentically. However, little studies have specifically indicated its application in quality management activities.

As quality management is initiated in the West, little attention has been given to Islamic perspective of the discipline. However, as the Japanese had successfully implemented quality management in their cultural value perspective, many parties come to acknowledge the significance of values. In the literature, various Islamic values have been linked to quality management practice. While studies analyzing and categorizing them is limited, several values are redundant or being termed differently, though they are similar in crux.

This article compiles the values and categorises them depending on similar bases of Quranic verses or Prophetic traditions. The categorisation proposes a set of Islamic values related to quality management practice, based on a simple frequency analysis matrix. Finally, this article concludes with prospects for future research.

Find out more at: Ishak, A.H. & Osman, M.R. 2016. A systematic literature review on Islamic values applied in quality management context.
Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 103–112.


Transformation of Islamic work ethic and social networks
The aim of this study is to explore the influence of religious beliefs on social or work-related ties of managers who are member of organisational networks representing two different ideologies (religious and secular) in Turkey.

In this research, the emergence of secular and devout entrepreneurs is considered as a phenomenon, and special attention is paid to religious transformation and secularism in Turkey. Social network analysis method is used to define the nature of communication links among 80 chairmen who are the members of two conflicting and dominant groups in Turkish business system.

The findings show that Protestant work ethic suggested by Weber with regard to Christianity have attained a similar place over the past decade in Islamic organisational networks. The concern of political power in religion leads to organisational networks being nourished by religious norms and creeds in many developing countries. Especially in societies like Turkey where the state is dominant in the business life, organisations and managers prefer to be included in religious networks to make close contacts with the state.

Another significant finding is that efforts of the members of religious networks—in spite of their relatively closed characteristics—in terms of being at the center of a network and taking the brokerage role, are highly developed on the contrary to the literature.

Read more at: Kirkbesoglu, E. & Sargut, A.S. 2016. Transformation of Islamic work ethic and social networks: The role of religious social embeddedness in organizational networks.
Journal of Business Ethics, 139(2), 313–331.