Business Ethics in North America


Ethics plays a critical role in enhancing an organization’s productivity (Kelchner, 2017). Business ethics is associated with employee motivation, stakeholder engagement and customer satisfaction (Kelchner, 2017). The equilibrium of pursuing trade prospects while maintaining ethical integrity and organizational responsibility has confirmed to be a significant challenge for enterprises ever since the initial phases of industrialism. The apparent failures of business ethics and corporate governance have constantly been questioned. A considerable increase in the essence and impact of environmental initiatives and corporate accountability has suggested the necessity of establishing an ethically-informed approach. Consequently, North American business environments are currently enmeshed in fundamental transitions.

Business Ethics in North America

Data collected from literature review and surveys between 1995 and 2009 to analyze North America (Canada, Mexico and USA) regional trends in business ethics research confirmed that business ethics is continuing to thrive .There are increasing levels of productivity in terms of quality and quantity of training and research outputs (Petrick, Cragg & Sañudo 2011). Multiple business enterprises in Mexico are managed by small numbers of shareholders in an environment governed by corruption. However, current political reforms in conjunction with the desire to expand global equity markets have compelled the improvement in corporate structures. Similar to Mexico, the Canadian corporations are managed by few individuals; nevertheless, there are few cases of corruption. Canada is more established within the business ethics field while Mexico is at the initial phases of integrating the concept. USA businesses prioritize results and completion of tasks; however, business ethics is also becoming a priority.

As aforementioned, the current state of ethics in North American businesses is such that enterprises are beginning to comprehend the essence of ethical practices and implementing them. American businesses generally focus on short-term basis, with specific emphasis on quick results and quarterly reports (Goodman & Steinberg, 2017, April). Moreover, the individualism concept is rather extensive in the USA as most businesses would rather focus on the product or task as opposed to customer service. However, a number of factors such as technology have compelled the companies to begin addressing business ethics. Technological developments have enabled the ease in access to information. Thus, consumers are likely to identify and react to unethical conduct, and since numerous organizations want to maintain a good reputation, they avert such cases by ensuring that ethical issues are addressed. Reports on unethical conduct are also likely to discourage stakeholder engagement and interfere with a company’s profits and overall development. To counter these challenges and ensure consumer satisfaction, stakeholder engagement as well as organization development, multiple companies within North America are impending corporate social responsibility policies. For instance, Nike Company, an American company, encountered scrutiny over its labor policies and was compelled to address the issue.

Corruption and fraud are more prominent within Mexican firms as opposed to Canadian or American firms. Nonetheless, research asserts that several Mexican firms are increasingly introducing the code of ethics. A study conducted among small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Mexico revealed that CSR and ethics is becoming appreciated. This is prompted by the fact that businesses want to maintain their reputation and brand image (Maldonado-Guzman, Pinzon-Castro & Leana-Morales, 2017).Moreover ,a different study affirmed that in as much as numerous organizations in Mexico did not have an official document of  code of ethics, the utilization of other company documents that contain the company’s mission ,vision and values proved the intent of nurturing an explicitly ethical environ (Olivas-Luján, 2016). Interest in business ethics has recently improved, partially due to the fiscal integration that has been developed in this area by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (Davila & Hartman, 2016). More organizations are prioritizing moral conduct within business contexts.

Business ethics is highly regarded within Canadian education systems, particularly business undergraduate programmes, since they incorporate social responsibility and ethnic studies within the curriculum (Wymer & Rundle-Thiele, 2017). Although there are significant challenges that impede the sustenance and development of such programmes, measures are continually being undertaken to ensure that business ethics is appreciated. Ethics in business is associated with employee satisfaction and in turn organizational progress. Unethical business conduct   is likely to have poor implications on employee motivation leading to excessive stress, reduced decision-making capabilities and impaired productivity. This realization has prompted several Canadian businesses including Cameco Corporation to upgrade their ethical policies so as to avert incidences where employees’ motivation is poorly affected.


Business ethics is crucial in employee and stakeholder satisfaction. North American businesses are realizing the benefits of ethics within the business context. More businesses are appreciating the concept and making efforts to integrate it.USA has been known to focus on the achievement of goals and the growth of businesses with little emphasis on customer service. Mexican businesses have constantly been associated with fraud and corruption while Canada has been progressively addressing the issue of ethics in business. Technological advancements and the need to sustain productivity have forced businesses within North America to implement business ethics, and in as much as this concept has not been fully integrated, it is currently becoming a priority for most business enterprises.




Davila, A., & Hartman, A. M. (2016). Tradition and Modern Aspects of Mexican Corporate         Culture. Mexican Business Culture: Essays on Tradition, Ethics, Entrepreneurship and                  Commerce and the State. Jefferson, NC McFarland, 26-27.

Goodman, J., Hu, I., & Steinberg, H. (2017, April). CHINA, MEXICO & THE USA:             ENTREPRENEURIAL ETHICS. In Academy of Entrepreneurship (p. 1).

Kelchner, L. (2017). The importance of ethics in organizations. Accessed May, 10, 2017.

Maldonado-Guzman, G., Pinzon-Castro, S. Y., & Leana-Morales, C. (2017). Corporate social             responsibility, brand image and firm reputation in Mexican small business. J. Mgmt. &             Sustainability, 7, 38.

Olivas-Luján, M. R. (2016). Perceptions of Ethical Decision Making in Mexican Business.           Mexican Business Culture: Essays on Tradition, Ethics, Entrepreneurship and Commerce               and the State, 92.

Petrick, J. A., Cragg, W., & Sañudo, M. (2011). Business ethics in North America: Trends and     challenges. Journal of Business Ethics, 104(1), 51-62.

Wymer, W., & Rundle-Thiele, S. R. (2017). Inclusion of ethics, social responsibility, and             sustainability in business school curricula: a benchmark study. International Review on    Public and Nonprofit Marketing, 14(1), 19-34.

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