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Gift-Giving Ethics Across Cultures

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You are an account executive with a multinational financial firm, and one of your biggest accounts is that of a shipping magnate in Greece. Several months after you have arranged very complex financing to build a new fleet of oil tankers for this customer, he asks if you and your wife would attend the christening of the first tanker. You, of course agree to attend - it would be an insult to him if you did not. When you arrive, he asks your wife to break the traditional champagne bottle over the bow of the tanker. Two weeks after the christening, your wife receives a package from your customer. In it is a gold bracelet with her initials and the date of the christening set in diamonds. To return the gift would insult your customer, but accepting it, would clearly violate your company's policy.

What should you do?

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Solution Preview

This is an interesting question, as it leaves some things open for debate. For example, what is it exactly about the action described that "violates" the company policy?

If it is the acceptance of a gift by an employee, then one might question whether or not the wife is truly an employee.

If it is the idea that anyone connected to the company receives a gift from another company, one might question the ...

Solution Summary

A brief discussion of the ethics and ramifications of being offered a gift by a party from another culture is offered.

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Gift-giving and accusations of bribery

One of your colleagues recalls an incident at a former employer which involved gift-giving and accusations of bribery. Which of the following points of view do you agree with and why?

1. Although giving gifts shows respect in some cultures, bribery has no place in international business operations. Businesses that condone it enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over those that don't.

2. Bribery is used in many countries as a way of cutting through bureaucratic red tape and expediting business deals. One could argue those opponents of bribery in the business context are preaching cultural imperialism. What is your response?

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