Situations that test a negotiator’s ethics, such as corruption, bribery, human rights violations, and puffing, may frequently arise in cross-cultural settings.These situations may arise because different cultures have different ethical standards by which they make decisions and determine negotiating positions and solutions.

Legal and religious customs are the predominant customs affecting an individual’s ethics. The most effective method for the negotiator to ensure that he does not enter into an unethical situation is to prepare by establishing his own ethical bottom line, determining the negotiating counterpart’s ethical standards, and then being acutely aware of and responding to ethical differences throughout the negotiation.


Ethics in Cross-Cultural Negotiation

1. Evaluation of Counterpart’s Ethics, as affected by Legal Customs

• What legal structure is in place?
• What type of justice (distributive, retributive, restorative, procedural) does the culture value?
• How important are specificity and comprehensiveness in the culture, especially in terms of written laws and contracts?
• What is the country’s reputation regarding corruption?
• What are the country’s laws regarding corruption, human rights violations and good faith disclosures?


2. Evaluation of Counterpart’s Ethics, as affected by Religious Customs

• What is the predominant religion?
• What are other influential religions?
• What symbols are important to the religion(s)?
• What are the basic tenets of the religion(s)?
• How does the government interact with the religion(s)?


3. Self-Evaluation

• Understand what religious and legal customs shape your own ethics.
• Establish your own ethical bottom line.
• Ensure that bottom line is aligned with the organization’s goals, own country’s laws,and host country’s laws.
• Do not assume that all people of a country will practice the same religion and have the same ethical standards.


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