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What Ethical Dilemmas May Be Encountered While Working in Foreign Countries?

Ethical Issues Concerning Briberies

Working in an another country, you may be faced with a difficult situation of being involved in corruption without even knowing it. In some cultures, it is acceptable to offer bribes to get a certain business transaction done.

Briberies come in many forms such as:

  • small scale
  • large scale
  • gifts
  • favors 
  • and entertainment. 

Giving any sort of bribe is illegal and unethical in the United States. However, in some countries you may have no other way of getting any business done if you don't offer bribes.

Also, giving a gift in appreciation to someone is considered as a bribe in United States, but it is a normal act in some countries. This may be the hardest ethical dilemma you have to face.

Although there is a law called Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which prevents paying bribes to foreign governments and businesses, it is not certain that the law is strictly followed in other countries.

Ethical Issues Concerning Illegal Activities

When working in another country, it might be easy to forget your moral standards and fall into the greed of making profit without any limitations. Sometimes if people are not held responsible for their actions, it could make them become careless about other countries' resources, environment and people. Polluting the country's environment, not following standard employment practices, and evading taxes are all unethical and illegal.

When everyone else around you is doing all these illegal activities you feel like you will never be held accountable for your actions if you also commit these acts. This is a difficult ethical problem only you have the power to avoid.

Ethical Issues and Political Affairs

In many countries, political officials are deeply involved with the commercial businesses. You may not even be able to work there without knowing someone in the government.

In a country where the government is heavily corrupted, the officials expect to be befriended and bribed. International businesses could gain advantages by offering bribes to government officials. However, it puts other companies at disadvantage and is an unfair practice of business.


Based out of Kansas, Holly Smith has been an active writer and reporter since 2003, working primarily in online news. She has written for "Kansas Liberty News" the "K-State Collegian" and worked as an on-air reporter for "Manhattan Matters" and the "Educational Communications Center." She holds Bachelors of Arts in print journalism and electronic journalism from Kansas State University.