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Using a Qualitative Approach to Gain Insights into the Business Ethics Experiences of Australian Managers in China

Brand, Vivienne; Slater, Amy


Vivienne Brand

Amy Slater
Associate Professor in Centre for Appearance Research


This study investigated the business ethics experiences of Australian managers in China, using qualitative methodology to identify themes. Thirty-one Australian managers who had spent on average 8.7 years working in business connected to China participated in in-depth interviews regarding their business ethics experiences in China. Commonly, managers identified issues relating to a broad spectrum which could be labelled "bribery and facilitation". Other repeated themes included requests for visa assistance, employee theft, nepotism and non-adherence to contractual obligations. This study has important implications for helping Australian managers improve the way they approach potential ethical situations in China. Four key coping strategies can be identified from the data: managers spoke of not compromising their own morals, of attempting to understand the motivation of Chinese colleagues, of talking to others and of adhering to company policy. These strategies suggest practical steps may be taken by organisations when training managers for business activities in China. In particular, structuring of mentoring relationships between experienced and less experienced practitioners may be of assistance. Cultural training for managers and clear company policy on contentious issues such as bribery may also be of benefit. The themes identified in the study also have implications for academics researching expatriate business peoples' experiences in China.


Brand, V., & Slater, A. (2003). Using a Qualitative Approach to Gain Insights into the Business Ethics Experiences of Australian Managers in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 45(3), 167-182.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2003
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 3
Pages 167-182
Keywords Australian managers, bribery, China, coping strategies, facilitation, in-depth interviews, qualitative
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