International business ethics is a term that refers to the application of ethics in the conduct of business on the international scene. The concept of ethics in general is one that is largely founded on a bedrock of moral principles and integrity as opposed to commercial law or labor law. This is mainly due to the fact that ethical considerations with regard to international business are mostly universal since most of the ethical principles are applicable in different countries, unlike business law, which is generally more individual. Even though international business ethics have a lot of similarities, there are still some points of variation due to the application of the tenets of different belief systems as well as cultural and religious considerations.
One of the general rules of international business ethics is for business men and women to try as much as possible to apply an acceptable moral code when conducting business overseas. A good illustration of applying basic morality in order to practice international business ethics can be seen in the area of child labor, since the practice might be illegal in certain countries and allowed in others. For this reason, the management of organizations from countries that do not allow this practice might purposefully go to another country where it is allowed for the sole purpose of taking advantage of the cheap child labor. In this situation, the management of the business knows that not only is child labor reprehensible ethically, but also that such a practice would lead to possible jail terms and the closure of the company in its home country. Here, it is clear to see that the application of international business ethics is lacking, even if the act is not strictly illegal.
Scenarios for the application of international business ethics abound and are often encountered by those who engage in international business. For example, assuming a customer in a country orders some goods from a manufacturer located in another country, ethical considerations require such a manufacturer to keep to the terms of the agreement between he or she and the consumer. As such, if the consumer orders a stated number of expensive televisions and the manufacturer tries to shortchange the customer by using inferior components to make the televisions, clearly the manufacturer has violated the norms of international business ethics. In this case, the violation of ethics has a legal implication since the customer can sue the manufacturer at the receipt of the substandard television.