Crossing the boundaries of obligation: Are corporate salaries a form of bribery? [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 55 (1):1 - 11 (2004)
. Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) pay relatively high salaries to local people in host countries. TNCs assume that such employees will accept an employeeÇôemployer relationship similar to that which exists in North America, but the obligations and personal interests that such a relationship create often directly conflict with systems of obligation already established in the host country. When TNCs do business across the boundaries of systems of obligation, corporate salaries can be seen as a form of unethical bribery. In this paper, the core case of business bribery is described consistent with the usual philosophical analysis of bribery, and the grounds for thinking bribery is unethical are made clear. The amount of a bribe is irrelevant to the ethical analysis. Bribery is distinguished from tips and grease on structural grounds. The concept of a system of obligation is defined, and examples given that show the variability of systems of obligation in host countries. Arguments are given to show that salaries paid by TNCs create obligations and personal interests which sometimes conflict with existing systems of obligation, and that such payments have the same structure as more traditional forms of bribery. The ethical issues of corporations crossing the boundaries of systems of obligations are discussed.
Keywords bribery  corporations  salary  Trans-National Corporations  obligations
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DOI 10.2307/25123364
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William H. Shaw (1999). Business Ethics. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).

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