Compliance Heroes, Leadership, and Ethical Values: In Search of a Chinese Benchmark

47 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009

See all articles by Len A. Gainsford

Len A. Gainsford

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Angus Young

Department of Accountancy & Law, Hong Kong Baptist University; German-Sino Institute of Legal Studies, Nanjing Univeristy; School of Law, Western Sydney University

Date Written: August 31, 2009

Abstract

The explanatory value of ethics and ethical behaviour underpinning recent compliance events in China is a topic deserving of careful consideration. Searching for reasons why compliance events take place, while cognitive, could also involve a perceptual “feel”, or an attributional response. A different path is taken in this paper, with prominence given to group values and individual compliance behaviour, informed by epistemological development in the knowledge of compliance theory and practice based on heroes, leaders and followers. A hero ought to be seen as a person of distinguished courage or performance. Heroes may be considered leaders, by appealing to followers’ moral values, raising followers’ awareness of ethical issues and encouraging them to rise above self-interest. The expression of traditional Chinese values relies upon the family unit as the microcosm of social and moral order. When there is an institutionalised belief in “social harm”, Chinese authorities would pursue those responsible for wrongdoing and hold them accountable. Appreciably, this tradition continues. Detection and action by whistle blowers on the 2007 pet food and 2008 infant formula product substitution scandals possesses all the hallmarks of compliance heroes emerging in Chinese society. In addressing the recent Chinese scandals, moral issues such as ensuring product safety have been elevated and commercial interests subsumed in the interests of the “greater good”. Leadership, through communicating official Chinese government positions on the scandals should guide people towards compliance. Building on family and societal relationships may be a preferred course for sustainable compliance outcomes.

Keywords: China, Compliance, Ethical Values, Followers, Heroes, Leaders, Whistle blowing

JEL Classification: K22, M14, N45

Suggested Citation

Gainsford, Leonard A. and Young, Angus, Compliance Heroes, Leadership, and Ethical Values: In Search of a Chinese Benchmark (August 31, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1464602 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1464602

Leonard A. Gainsford

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Angus Young (Contact Author)

Department of Accountancy & Law, Hong Kong Baptist University ( email )

Kowloon
Hong Kong

German-Sino Institute of Legal Studies, Nanjing Univeristy ( email )

22 Hankou Road
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210093
China

School of Law, Western Sydney University ( email )

Parramatta
Australia

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