Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 5, 2002

Johannes Brinkmann

Business Ethics and Intercultural Communication. Exploring the overlap between two academic fields


The paper offers a brief presentation of business ethics as an academic field, and of how it has approached the moral dimension of cross-cultural business activity, i.e. when companies operate in different countries, where stakeholders live in different societies and where norms and values reflect and are affected by cultural differences. Introductory definitions are illustrated by classic case examples and important issues addressed in this field. In a next step, cultural and ethical relativism are discussed, with reference to a four-fold table with combinations of both relativisms and to a process model. This model departs from cultural and moral relativism and outlines how one could transcend such relativism. Among several concluding theses the most important one is a claim that intercultural communication as an academic field can profit from using highly controversial business ethics cases for testing its competence (and for staying humble).

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