The Importance Of Business Ethics

It has often been said that a society’s level of civilization can be gauged in three places: it’s prisons, it’s toilets, and it’s roads. If a society possesses a high trust culture which emphasizes justice and consideration, one would visibly notice those values at work in the aforementioned 3 places. I would like to add another domain to that list, the domain of business and commerce. It is within the realm of commerce where Western values of high trust and consideration truly shine. Let us examine how.

In 2013 I did some contract work for a massive Canadian corporation where I acted as a liaison between customers and the accounting department. The job was a logistics position that tracked the number of units that were shipped every month to various giant retailers across Canada. If customers had accidentally been shipped fewer units than ordered, my job was to prepare the paperwork and alert the accounting department so that the customer would receive a credit on their next purchase. Unsurprisingly, customers were quick to point out shortages as it no doubt impacted their operations. Surprisingly, they were just as quick to report additional units that were shipped to them by accident. In such a scenario I would once again prepare the necessary paperwork and forward it to the accounting department which would then bill the customers for the additional units.

I was told that there was no way to track additional units shipped by accident and thus the company was at the mercy of their customers. If the customer was honest, they would report the overage. If they weren’t, that was the company’s loss. It turned out that 90% of the customers were honest and I owed my contract job to their integrity. Just another day in a civilized high trust Western culture.

Contrast this to the manner in which non western people do business. A cousin of mine (now a millionaire several times over) once said this about Dubai’s real estate market: “Everybody’s corrupt, from the bottom to the very top.” Kickbacks are very common in the UAE, and possibly the only means to secure lucrative contracts. Building material suppliers often offer kickbacks to secure contracts for new development projects. This often leads to the use of inferior construction materials which in turn frequently leads to this.

India and China do not fare any better. My mother once mentioned her awful shopping experience at Dubai’s Dragon Mart, the emirate’s only major Chinese mall. Chinese shopkeepers often threaten to raise their prices at a moments notice to force your hand and discourage you from shopping around. The Indian’s atavistic need to price haggle is a symptom of a larger problem: a lack of trust between consumers and sellers. In the West, bargaining is frowned upon and customers generally trust sellers to quote them a fair price. This has historically been the case:

The sound merchant of the old school held the opinion that his duty was satisfactorily discharged, by satisfying the actual purchase-requirements of his customers. He allowed the latter to approach him of their own accord, and waited until they called upon him, believing that he had conformed in all respects to his business obligations, by procuring for the customer, at a suitable price, the goods which the latter required. He regarded it as beneath his dignity to run after customers, or to entice them, by all manner of tricks, to buy from him; in fact, in olden times, conduct of this kind was regarded as unbecoming
and quite unworthy of an honourable trader. Far less did it ever occur to him to talk a customer into buying some article, which the latter would not have bought of his own accord. Thus trade remained a peaceful, and not unduly exciting occupation, and still the customer got what he wanted. (Theodor Fritsch, The Riddle Of The Jew’s success, page 10, 1927)

Tribalism is bad for Capitalism

Traditional Capitalism ensures that Businesses actually satisfy consumer needs in order to remain profitable and hence continue operating. Businesses that do not satisfy consumer needs or implement poor business models are punished with losses and eventually swept off the board. In tribal societies however, even lousy businesses can expect to stay profitable because they can always count on the patronage of their ethnic communities. In the long run this is harmful to the economy as businesses have no need for self improvement.

I’ve seen several examples of this in Toronto where businesses (run by immigrants) that would have shut down (under ordinary circumstances) remain operational due to the support of their ethnic communities. These businesses provide sub-standard customer service and at times their owners outright insult their customers over the counter. This arrangement generally sabotages the free market’s ability to regulate quality. In the long run, an ethnically fragmented society produces an economic system that emphasizes ethnic networking over quality. Capitalism’s innovation inducing qualities are effectively muted in such an economic environment.

How a society does business speaks volumes about it’s values and worldview. Even my ultra religious uncle (a hardcore Muslim) was impressed with the integrity of Western businessmen. He often speaks highly about his British suppliers and how they would often issue full refunds without even verifying if the goods were genuinely defective, preferring instead to take their customer’s word for it. The prevailing ethos of the West is that trade ought to benefit society and that there is a higher purpose to wealth creation. This is why Ford paid his employees very high wages (for the time) and Carnegie built libraries. India’s business class give virtually nothing back to society and the Chinese are not much better.

I think the Alternative Right and Paleoconservatives have overall neglected to analyze and comment on the business culture of the West. I’ve merely presented the tip of the iceberg in this article and it is my view that this is an area that certainly merits further study and discussion.


This entry was posted in Asia, China, conservative values, Economics, Europe, India, Race, Tribalism, Western Values and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Importance Of Business Ethics

  1. Beatrix says:

    Hmmm…. I’ve often wondered about how business is done here on the subcontinent.
    My husband has had his own business here since he was 17 yrs old so I’ve learned quite a bit observing him. When I asked him about all the cheating & awful service Indians & Nepalis put up with he said this-
    “Everybody cheats, it is expected”
    When I mentioned that in the US if any business cheated like that or gave such crappy service no one would ever do business with them again & or possibly they’d incur a lawsuit.
    I told my husband that in the US the motto of most businesses is “The customer is always right” (even if the customer is OBVIOUSLY & ridiculously in the wrong).
    My husband said, “Well, in India the customer is always there, so no one cares who’s right”.
    So I suppose the old adage attributed to PT Barnum holds true-
    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    • Dota says:

      Indian businessmen have absolutely no ethics, and I would know as I grew up around them (Muslims, Hindus, and Jains). Trade is an inherently selfish pursuit, however, the mark of a superior culture is where the pursuit of trade is imbued with a higher purpose. I was especially appalled to learn that grain traders who are subsidized by the government to sell grain at below cost prices to the poor would keep the subsidies and continue ripping of the poor. It’s truly disgusting.

      • Quartermain says:

        One time when I was driving taxi, I stopped at this one gas station to get an energy bar.

        The Old man cashier in a blue turban overcharged me on it. I refused the sale and left with all my money and never went there again. Eventually the station went out of business and was replaced by a StarBucks.

      • GulliverFredrich says:

        That is interesting that you are mentioning that Dota. Often higher morals illustrates hat the members of the society are aware of the objective realities surrounding said society and what protocols need to be followed to further allow all members of the society to flourish. Society itself means cooperation which is the opposite of selfish opportunism for short-term gain with long term disastrous results.

        I was thinking about the caste system that the Indo-Europeans purportedly spread when they were going around Eurasia. Supposedly this system was divided into a tripartite system with new systems branching off this system; Isn’t it the mark of a superior culture that Western culture has managed to recognize that all three castes can have equal respect and merit in respect to the society?

        That one can pursue knowledge and be a knowledge seeker while being a farmer at the same time without some parochial rigid division? What if I was living in some land where it required that be partially part of all three castes just to make a living? Western culture would allow such ideas and notions and could immediately adapt and be flexible enough to allow such ideas. B/C Western culture is in sync with change/adaptation and Western culture admits there is an objective reality that is separate and existing that you have to admit that exists and that it affects us all the time. Hence the creation and superiority of modern science which was unsurprisingly invented by the West and not other cultures.

      • GulliverFredrich says:

        How does this subsidy system work exactly?

      • Dota says:

        The government subsidizes traders so that they may sell grain at a loss to India’s economically underprivileged. The traders keep the government money while selling their stuff at the same price thereby profiting from two sources.

      • GulliverFredrich says:

        So instead of paying the farmers, the government instead pays the traders for their services? Is this because the Indian government looks down on the farmers due to caste/tribe and instead decides to pay the traders just for their privilege of them engaging in this shady business due to them being a higher caste?

      • Dota says:

        So instead of paying the farmers, the government instead pays the traders for their services?

        It’s more efficient this way. It’s easier to keep a track of traders with their functioning distribution networks than it is to keep a track of India’s populace. Unfortunately, the efforts backfired due to the low morality of the traders.

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