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Business across cultures

From the May 2002 issue of The Christian Science Journal

has done overseas business development for a Fortune 500 company with operations in Russia, central Europe, and North Africa. He now consults from his home base in St. Louis, Missouri. Senior staff writer asked John about the role of ethics in international business. John began by explaining the spiritual foundation for his work.

For me, living by a moral code applied to business means beginning with the nature of the relationship that exists between me and God. What I see as "business" is the activity, integrity, purpose, and definition of a spiritual creation that already exists. Integrity is not a convenient add-on. Nor is it something that, in order to be successful, you can skirt. In the business world there is a tendency to believe that success depends on getting a deal done. That's a very different motive than knowing that every customer you interact with is brought to you by God.

You may be tempted to say, "We can get it to you by Thursday," knowing full well that it can't be ready for another week. I've always taken the position that it's better to be honest with clients and talk about the limitation of the product or service than to oversell it. I've had clients call back to say, "We're not convinced that your product/service is the right one in this case, but we were so impressed with your telling us up front that you could not solve all of our problems, we wondered if you could help us understand another proposal we've been given."

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