Can a company use worldwide standards and procedures?

Immediately after the managing director contacted them, the local police arrived at the company, arrested the employee, took him to the station, and interrogated him according to local procedures. The employee confessed. The police then took the employee outside and shot him dead.

The American managing director was devastated. For weeks, he was haunted by the fact that his action, taken because he thought it was culturally appropriate and fair, had led to the murder of an employee.

What went wrong?

Re-analyze the situation from the perspective of both the North American expatriate managing director who made the decision and the local authorities who responded to the information provided to them by the expatriate managing director. Share your initial assessment with your team.

Imagine that you are on the
company’s senior management committee responsible for setting policies for the company’s entire worldwide operations. Consider each of the following questions:

•How should employees be treated when they compromise integrity? Does a company’s belief in maintaining the highest level of integrity limit its ability to consider culturally based values differences-and more importantly, their consequences-between the company’s culture and the local national cultures?

•Should companies review their policies on the prevention of theft and promotion of personal honesty in the light off cultural differences? Can a company use worldwide standards and procedures? Or must companies define integrity issues differently in each country or region of the world?

•Given the company’s belief in maintaining the highest respect for people while maintaining the highest personal integrity, how should it handle future situations such as this?

Review what you said you would do if you had been the American managing director and why? Knowing how the situation turned out, what would you now recommend that future managing directors do in similar situations?

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