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Developing Ethics

Awareness
Prof. Loek Hopstaken
E-Leader Conference
Ho Chi Minh City – January 4, 2011
The Netherlands
• Location: Western Europe, neighbours: Germany
& Belgium

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• Area: 41,543 sq km (7,650 sq km = water) – no.

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• Population: 16, 783,000 (July 2010) – no. 59
• Government type: constitutional monarchy
• Capital: Amsterdam
• Independence: January 23, 1579
• GDP (purchasing power parity): US$ 659,1 billion

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Now, to the point ...

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Why Ethics Awareness?
Lack of it results in:

• Crime

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• Corruption

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• Pollution
• Human suffering and death
• Injustice
• Loss of faith in authorities
• Abuses
• Wastes of resources, human and natural
• Wars
• In short: Failed countries 5


Failed countries: criteria
(1)
Social
 Mounting Demographic Pressures

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 Massive Movement of Refugees or

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Internally Displaced Persons creating
Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
 Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group
Grievance or Group Paranoia
 Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic

 Uneven Economic Development along Group


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 Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline

Failed countries: criteria
(2)
Political

 Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of

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the State

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 Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
 Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the
Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of
Human Rights
 Security Apparatus Operates as a "State
Within a State“
 Rise of Factionalized Elites
 Intervention of Other States or External
Political Actors 7

Failed countries: ranking
• Alert: 37 Failed Countries (Africa: 23; Asia:
13)

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• Warning: 92 less organized countries

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(Africa: 27; Asia: 24)
• Moderate: 34 organized countries (Africa:
1; Asia: 7)
• Sustainable: 13 well organized countries
(Africa: 0; Asia: 0)

Source: Fund for Peace (USA think tank;

published yearly in Foreign Policy magazine)


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Why Ethics Awareness?
In developing countries, lack of ethics

awareness causes:

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• Less or no development, or under-

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development
• Waste of talents
• Waste of nature
• A bad image for doing business
• Ongoing poverty
• Failing education
• An increasing gap between more
developed, and less developed countries
• Decline of civilization 9
Focus on Corruption
• Main force keeping countries from (further)
growth and prosperity

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• So common, it’s regarded as ‘normal’

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• Two types:
- Political
- Corporate
 Never formal or legal
 Implicit systems
 Top down, bottom up
 When those in power depend on it, nothing
will change
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Facing the problem

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1.Problem Statement

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2.Current State of Affairs
3.Power Distance
4.Developing Ethics Awareness

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1. The Problem: Lack of
Ethics Awareness
Elements:
• Ethics is a misunderstood concept

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• Ethics is a personal consideration to weigh

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good and bad
• Ethics is more than words
• Ethics is hard to codify
• Ethics does not equal ‘morals’
• Ethical does not mean ‘law abiding’
• Ethics is often is a misused, misapplied
term
Problem: lack of ethics education →

lack of ethics awareness → unethical behavior


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2. Current State: South &
East Asia
Transparency International publishes a list of
countries, perceived by stakeholders (inhabitants;

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professional visitors) ranging from no or less

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corrupt to highly corrupt:
1. Singapore 87. India
13. Hong Kong 91. Sri Lanka
17. Japan 110. Indonesia
33. Taiwan 116. Vietnam
38. Brunei 134. Philippines; Bangla Desh
39. South Korea 143. Pakistan
46. Macau 146. Nepal
56. Malaysia 154. Cambodia; Laos
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78. Thailand & China 176. Myanmar
3. Power Distance
Hofstede’s 5 Dimensions:
• Power Distance

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• Individualism – Collectivism

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• Masculinity – Femininity
• Uncertainty Avoidance
• Longterm – Shortterm
 Orientation
Possibly lacking:

 Materialistic – Spiritual

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Power Distance, Collectivism
& the Impact of Ethics (1)

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Power Distance, Collectivism
& the Impact of Ethics (2)

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Master Kong

 Confucius’ deep impact

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 on South East Asian

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 cultures and values
 Confirming and updating
 the ancient traditions of
 ethics and human relationships
 China has dominated large parts of South East
Asia for many centuries
 Elements: Human Relationships, Attitude &
Behaviour
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Human Relationships
2,500 years ago, in a time when China was in
a chaotic state and in desperate need of social

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clarity, Master Kong defined strict rules for

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human relationships:
 Ruler and subject
 Husband and wife
 Parents and children
 Brothers and sisters
 Friend and friend
These rules are still in full force today.


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Attitude & Behaviour:
Face

4 types of Face:

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1.Diu-mian-zi: this is when one’s actions or

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deeds have been exposed to people.
2.Gei-mian-zi: involves the giving of Face to
others through showing respect.
3.Liu-mian-zi: this is developed by avoiding
mistakes and showing wisdom in action.
4.Jiang-mian-zi: this is when Face is increased
through others, i.e. someone
complementing you to an associate.
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Losing Face: no criticism
“If someone disagrees with what another

person says, rather than disagree publicly, the

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person will remain quiet. This gives face to the

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other person, while speaking up would make
both parties lose face.”

So: in a Confucianist culture with its large


Power Distance there is no room for
subordinates criticizing their leaders.
As power tends to corrupt the minds of those

in power, they carry a heavy responsibility to


be ethical and in this way, be an ethical
example. 20
Face: some observations
• To save face, have a subordinate take the
blame (in exchange for ...)

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• To give Face, assign heroic deeds to

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someone who hasn’t committed them
• To enhance face, you organize to be seen in
the company of (or: as host of) a person
with an impressive Face
• When you cannot pay back your loan, you
avoid losing Face by avoiding any contact.
This includes not replying to emails, calls,
etc.
• Another way to avoid losing Face is to
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completely deny the past


4. Developing Ethics
Awareness
To cure and improve ethics awareness and ethical

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behavior in South East Asia one needs:

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1.ethics education: all levels of society


2.ethical decision skills: those in power
3.justice: judges, lawyers, law enforcement
officers

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Seven Areas of Ethics
Awareness
1.Self: personal life
2.Family

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3.Group (organization; ethnic
entity)
4.Nation (country)
5.Mankind
6.Nature (both organic & anorganic
environments)
7.Spirituality / Eternity / Divinity 23

Ethical Decision Skills
 Ethics is a personal consideration and
choice

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 Communication is the tool to discuss the

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validity of one’s considerations, choices,
and consequences
 Beware of ‘Group Think’: this may generate
negative results
 In the end, it’s the individual who makes up
his/her mind to display an attitude /
behaviour
 Being accountable for one’s decisions
means, reporting on the ethical
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considerations that have resulted in a
decision, and its consequences
 Being accountable does not mean:
Conclusions
• To fully understand the background and
behavior in South East Asian cultures it is

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mandatory to study their history,

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sociology, politics (old & new), religions,
philosophies, geography and ethnology.
• People in power positions in South East
Asia carry an even heavier responsibility
regarding ethics awareness and ethical
decision making than those in power in
other parts of the world.
• This is due to the Confucianist roots of the
various cultures, and the phenomenon of
‘losing face’. 25
• Restoring / improving ethics awareness and
ethical decision skills will take time.
Recommendations
1.Promote ethics awareness among leaders of
organizations and representatives of the

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Law. Adopt international standards and

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codes for Corporate Governance.
2.Develop ethics awareness programs for all
educational levels, to develop ethical
decision skills.
3.Study the Singapore ‘system’.
4.Respect tradition and culture, unless
misused as justifications for unethical
practices.
5.Don’t maintain low salaries for officials
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expecting they will compensate their
monthly deficit by accepting bribes.

Further
Recommendations
6. Condemn and end corruption top down, and
develop a

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 program to handle the consequences.

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7. Lead ethical lives and be an ethical example

to the young
8. When on the road to Power, realize that

“Power Corrupts”.
9. Allow people to make mistakes while

developing ethics
 awareness.
10. Make sure they learn from their mistakes –

not by 27
 punishing them, but by educating them.

Developing Ethics
Awareness

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Thank you for your kind attention.

loek@hopstaken.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/loekhopstaken

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