Business Ethics and the Brazilian Reality

Business ethics has been gaining strength since the 1960s, after various scandals
involving fraud, corruption, bribes and bad behavior, showing the need to rethink the
organizational practices, which are also charged by society. Corporate ethics include a
set of organizational principles, values, and norms that can be derived from individuals,
organizational statements, or the legal system, which primarily guide both individual
behavior and collective behavior in the organizational environment (FERREL;

Business ethics can also be understood as a representation of norms and values
that are effectively dominant in a company, being a kind of social contract where
members behave in a harmonious way, considering each other’s interests. It is important
to make it clear that within this context the organization works to increase the quality of
life of people in all dimensions, not only considering profitability, but also the human
aspect, considering the efficiency associated with responsibility and social commitment

Addressing business ethics in the Brazilian reality presents several challenges,
since the data are scarce and incomplete, demonstrating the need for a more intense
reflection on the subject and how this ethics results in an impact that surpasses the
organizational environment. Cornacchione and Klaus (2017) emphasize that to do
business in Brazil requires a complete understanding of what the business ethics culture means in the country and how it is related to the threats and opportunities inherent in the
Brazilian business environment, highlighting the private and public connection, since
there are several economic crises arising from corruption scandals and ethical

Even with the apparent progress noted in recent years, the shift from a
traditionally paternalistic, personalistic, corporate culture marked by impunity is not a
simple and automatic process. The adoption of codes of conduct has been inefficient in
the goal of transforming Brazilian business culture, typically characterized by
concentration of power, personal loyalty and attempt to reduce conflicts. It is still placed
in this ethical business context, the “brazilian way” that is present in social and
corporate behavior, making it difficult to develop a more professional and ethical
business culture, both in private and public companies, which ends up harming a
consistent national growth (CORNACCHIONE; KLAUS; 2017).

The search for higher ethical standards in the Brazilian business environment is
accompanied by skepticism and uncertainty, as this pattern began to reproduce only
after demands from international partners or buyers, resulting in a mobilization by
marketing and corporate reputation. Unfortunately, ethics are not valued by a large
number of companies operating in Brazil. Many may try to promote and highlight it in
the company’s list of values, but corporate actions prove that ethics is not a value to be
pursued and used daily in organizational practices (BOWATER, 2015).


BOWATER, D. Brazil’s continuing corruption problem. 2015, Disponível em:
Acesso em: 12/06/2018.

CORNACCHIONE, E and KLAUS, L. Ethical Business Culture in Brazil:
Advantages and Obstacles of National Jeitinho. 2017. Disponível em:                                                                                                                  < markets/ethical-business-culture-in-brazil/42D5013BA562D6FEC765AF078E14B6A4 > Acesso em: 08/06/2018.

FERRELL, O. C., FRAEDRICH, J. & FERRELL, L. Business Ethics: Ethical
Decision Making and Cases . (10ª ed.). Cengage Learning, 2013.

LEISINGER, K. M. & SCHMITT, K. Ética empresarial: Responsabilidade global e
gerenciamento moderno. Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes, 2001.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the AdmEthics Group

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