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Corporate ethical policies in large corporations in Argentina, Brazil and Spain


  • Melé, Domènec

    () (IESE Business School)

  • Debeljuh, Patricia

    (Universidad Argentina de la Empresa)

  • Arruda, M. Cecilia

    (FGV-EAESP, Brazil)


This paper examines the status of Corporate Ethical Policies (CEP) in large companies in Argentina, Brazil and Spain, with a special emphasis on Corporate Ethics Statements (CES) or documents that define the firm's philosophy, values and norms of conduct. It is based on a survey of the 500 largest companies in these nations. The findings reveal many similarities between these countries. Among other things, it emerges that most companies give consideration to ethics in business and have adopted some kind of formal or informal ethical policies. Whether or not they have a CES, companies agree that ethical conduct must be taken into account when selecting, appraising and promoting personnel as an important ethical policy. There is a growing tendency to draw up formal corporate ethics documents. These documents are perceived, first and foremost, as supporting the development of corporate culture. The philosophical ground of these documents is to be found mainly in human virtues, generally accepted social values and universal ethical principles. Most respondents believe that primary responsibility for ethical issues in the company rests with the CEO. Finally, the findings indicate that most companies that devote more resources to communicating and implementing CESs have two or more formal ethics documents. The main differences between the countries included in the study concern the emphasis given to certain aspects, such as avoiding misconduct or taking ethical criteria into account when selecting personnel. The emphasis is greatest in countries where corruption seems most prevalent.

Suggested Citation

  • Melé, Domènec & Debeljuh, Patricia & Arruda, M. Cecilia, 2003. "Corporate ethical policies in large corporations in Argentina, Brazil and Spain," IESE Research Papers D/509, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0509

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    Codes conduct; values statement; business ethics policy; institucionalization business ethics;

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