The Effect of Country and Culture on Perceptions of Appropriate Ethical Actions Prescribed by Codes of Conduct: A Western European Perspective among Accountants

Journal of Business Ethics 70 (4):327-340 (2007)
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Abstract

Recognizing the growing interdependence of the European Union and the importance of codes of conduct in companies’ operations, this research examines the effect of a country’s culture on the implementation of a code of conduct in a European context. We examine whether the perceptions of an activity’s ethicality relates to elements found in company codes of conduct vary by country or according to Hofstede’s (1980, Culture’s Consequences (Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA)) cultural constructs of: Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculinity/Femininity, Individualism, and Power Distance. The 294 individuals, who participated in our study, were from 8 Western European countries. Their responses to our 13 scenarios indicate that differences in the perceptions of ethicality associate primarily with the participants’ country as opposed to their employer (i.e., accounting firm), employment level, or gender. The evidence also indicates that these country differences associate with Hofstede constructs of Individualism and Masculinity.

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