Introduction to Values in Business:
The value systems in societies differ considerably because the value systems are built through centuries. Japanese and Chinese ethical values differ considerably to Indian ones.
The main issues in ethics are:
(1) The academic discipline of business ethics requires approval and support of industry in those countries.
(2) Equal treatment of technical and human resources in management. In Japan human resource is given more weightage.
(3) Social justice and efficiency should go hand in hand.
(4) In Japan ethical managements already in place since last two decades with emergence of large business houses and MNCs. In China the importance of business ethics is felt and being practiced under the conditions of contemporary market economy.
(5) Japanese consumers are more willing to support business that were identified as socially more responsible than Chinese.
(6) Chinese value economic aspects of business organisation whereas Japanese considered more about business conforming to legal and ethical standards.
(7) The culture has profound base on ethical management in each country.
Table 10.1 below gives the cultural differences between US, Japan and Indian in a tabular form.
Some of the ethical values noticed in different countries are:
Indian Value System:
India has a place of pride in a strong ethical base. It needs to be rekindled by proper education to our young and budding managers. Indian ethico-moral discussions go back to three and half millennia when Vedas specified the ground rules of human existence and living. The ethical discussions and teaching continued all through Indian history though India was ruled by different emperors and foreign rulers.
The Upanishads, Puranas and Smritis continued the traditions. The values were put for popular use in great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Bhagavad-Gita puts ethics in a clear and concise way.
The epics give human dilemmas in every walk of life and attach importance to values in dealing all such issues. Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Vishnu Sharma’s Panchatantra, Hitopadesha, Neetishastra, Katha Saritsagar, Neeti Shataka, Somadev Neeti Sootra and many more works stress Indian ethos in different ways.
Perhaps to attract readers these works are in story form, ornate, colourful and poetic giving an unparalled practical ethical values in them. The current ethical behaviour of Indian is an intimate mix of good textures of values taken from Vedantic, Jaina, Buddhist, Sikh and Sufi traditions. In recent past we have also added western values.
About 2½ millennia ago the roots of western ethical values started in Greece from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. At about the same time Chinese got ethical base in Confucius. The Vedantic ethical values are spiritual, sacred and simple. The entire value system is put as ‘Dharma’ or righteousness in all what one does.
Some of ethical Vedantic principles as applied to modern business are:
- Treat people decently. Respect all stakeholders’ opinions, background, privacy dignity and desire to grow.
- All people are having egos and selfish nature. Respect diversity.
- Companies or business is created to serve people and all stakeholders.
- Some are more intelligent and powerful but protect the weak.
- Look inside sitting alone and think is it right? Is it fair? Will it do good to all?
- Be good, do good to as many and as much.
- Mahabharata sums up importance of ethical behaviour in a sloka.
Ethical behaviour is important for a man. When a man goes down in ethical values, he will have no use of his money or his relatives and he has no reason to live.
As noted above, ethics was and is a traditional subject in India. Vedantic ethics had spiritual approach, which is summed up in its entirety (what you do not wish unto you do not do it to others). Business ethics is a new branch of study giving ethic plus business combination in decision making processes in industry and commerce.
Indian ethos was introduced in daily walk of life for everyone by various methods. Religious teachings, listening to Puranas, Kathas, Bhajans, Yoya, Pooja, Yajyas and the like are some examples where these remind time and again the essence of ethical behavior in a society. Over the centuries many of these became mechanical and ritualistic and lost the ethical touch in them.
The ethical standards set by emperor Ashoka is given in Box 10.1:
Two other religions which had their origins in India are Jainism and Buddhism. Buddhism and Jainism stress the ethical behavior and non-violence in more stringent manner to the society. In fact ‘The Digambar’ sect of Jainism advocated no attachments of possession to any worldly goods.
Indian ancient texts give guidelines to ethical behaviour of a man in his daily life since days of Veda. The same principles apply to modern day business.
Some of the important ethical lessons are:
- Foundation for a healthy business is sound morals and ethics.
- For managers to be good decision makers and to stand up to temptation and pressures, he should have his own peace of mind, strength of will and ethics.
- Selfishness and greed are source of evil that reduces ethical standards in an organisation.
- Ethical levels should be built up from top down to curb lies, hurting, cheating or unethical acts.
The Table 10.2 below gives the difference between western management concepts and Indian ethos:
Indian culture is much diversified because of varieties of customs, beliefs and many gods. It is difficult to find single culture at one place. Hinduism has much type of worship and festivals.
In tradition Indian has Vedantic, Buddhist, Jaina and Sikh traditions. India has also welcomed and absorbed good ethical lessons from Christian, Islamic and Parsi religions. The culture has enriched with diversity of outsiders. It is now a unity in diversity.
The important Vedantic values in Indian society valid even today are:
- Showing respect to elders specially teachers
- Not showing emotion outward
- God fear in all walks of life. In any function Pooja or offering to God is made first before the work begins.
- Marriage is made in heaven and is considered lifelong bond. Some consider it as bond even after death.
- In recent years Indian household look western. These are outward looks, whereas the Vedantic culture flews in hearts and actions. Similarly Indian ethos had many changes when foreigners ruled India for many centuries but Vedantic identify and ethos remained intact.
- Indian ethos were built and perfected long before others evolved them. Hence India contributed immensely in teaching ethical lessons to outside world with its classical books. The ethical thought process in Vedantic ethos starts with Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis and Puranas. These were told in many ways with day to day life in epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita. The ethical values were told in story form in Panchatantra, Hitopdesha, Katha- Saritsagaf, Bhoja prabhand, Chanakya Neeti, Bliagavata, Sooktimuktavali, Neeti Shastra, Neeti Shataka Manusmuti and the like.
- Sacred simplicity of four goals to a man.
a) Dharma – Righteousness
b) Artha – Creation of wealth
c) Kama – Desires and needs
d) Moksha – Liberation of the spiritual core.
8. The ethos in work life are:
a) Man’s inner strength. Simple living
b) Holistic relationship between man and nature
c) Cooperation with each other
d) Yoga and meditation. That is excellence and concentration.
e) Spirit of sacrifice.
Internal orientation towards work as worship.
A holistic grasp of Indian values is stated by great Poet Kalidasa as Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram. The meaning and connection is shown in Fig. 10.1 below.
In Indian Vedantic system personality types have been suggested based on set of attributes.
The classification are:
- a) Daivi or good attributes give Sattwa type of personality.
- b) Rajas personality shows an angry and always busy type.
- c) Tamas is always thinking negative doing such harmful work.
The classification of three types of personalities show hereunder the attributes of each type at Table 10.3.
Indian army has set itself high ethical standards in its policies and operations. These are built and perfected over for centuries. These apply to business environment. An article on the subject is given in box 10.2.