Business Ethics

The moral question of what is right or appropriate poses many dilemmas for domestic marketers. Even within a country, ethical standards are frequently not defined or always clear. The problem of business ethics is infinitely more complex in the international marketplace because value judgments differ widely among culturally diverse groups. That which is commonly accepted as right in one country may be completely unacceptable in another. Giving business gifts of high value, for example is generally condemned in the United States, but in many countries of the world gifts are not only accepted but also expected.

Corruption Defined:

Indeed, consistent with the discussions about language above the meaning of the word corruption varies considerably around the world. In formerly communist countries where Marxism was an important part of the educational system for many, profits can be a kind of corruption. What American managers view as essential others view as a sign of exploitation. Individualism so important to Americans can also be seen as a kind of corruption. The Japanese have an expression. The nail sticks up gets hammered down. In India many attribute the decline in the society there to the rampant consumerism such as that promoted on MTV. Of course, such rampant consumerism is what kept the American economy afloat right after the turn of the century. In some countries there is no greater Satan than r-rated American movies with their sex and violence. In China missionaries and religious movements are viewed by the government as being potentially dangerous and disruptive. Many in sub-Sahara Africa view Western intellectual properly laws as a kind of exploitation that prevents treatments of AIDS for millions. During the 1997–1998 financial crisis many government leaders in Southeast Asia decried currency speculation as the worst kind of corruption.

Finally, please recall to 2003 homogenization of Barbie described at the beginning of the article. And then there is Barbie having great fun in Japan these days. We hope the love affair lasts, but we are not confident it will. The article does describe the extensive marketing research Mattel did with kids. But there is no mention made about marketing research with their parents. We guarantee that selling a big busted blonde doll to their daughters will be viewed as a kind of corruption by some Asian parents and perhaps governmental officials as well. Particularly Americans are perceived as pursuing military and economic hegemony a strong reaction against symbols of America will follow. Watch out Barbie, GI Joe, and you other toy store friends.

Our criticism of Mattel then was of the mark in three ways. First, sales of Barbie declined world wide after the global standardization. Second, parents and governments did react. Most scandalous was the Saudi Arabian Barbie ban underscored on the Web site of the Saudi Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Jewish Barbie dolls, revealing clothes and shameful pouters, accessories and tools are symbols of decadence of the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful. Third, Mattel strategy boosted ales of its competitors, MGA Entertainment Inc’s multiethnic Bratz, Razanne, and, in the Arabian Gulf states, Fulla. Razanne and Fulla were both designed with Muslim girls and Muslim parent in mind. Full waist length black hair with red streaks around face with big brown eyes, a tan, a flatter chest than Barbie, and clothes that conceal her elbows and knees, will again be touched on these topics it pertains to marketing research. But for now we switch from Barbie to bribery, another kind of corruption.