First and foremost, International Business in this film was cast in a very negative light. I do have to agree however, that this is a very real reality that happens daily across our planet. International Businesses especially in certain industries do target populations and governments that are not strong and will fold to their wills. They go to countries where bribery is a way of business and accepted as the “norm” in order to push their agenda’s or develop their products, in many ways to the detriment of the community with which they are located.
This film show’s us the sad truth about Pharmaceutical companies and how they choose the poor, corrupt, and underdeveloped countries with little protection to do human testing of drugs upon even though they are causing deaths. The sad reality is that this does happen more than one would like to think. International business needs to study and understand the culture that they are trying to do business with. In this case bribery and corruption was the norm and companies were able to payoff upper level government officials in order to offer “free” drugs to a poor population. They did come at a cost however and people were dying. But is it okay to go ahead and sacrifice the few, uneducated, and poor in order to save the many? I think not. However sometimes in the business world this seems to be completely acceptable.
Another major function of international business is understanding the culture and what is that countries acceptable “norm”. In many cases it is not what you know however, but rather who you know. In this case, the pharmaceutical companies had contacts within the government. These friendships are many times what one needs in order to develop a deal within a country. Building a relationship with locals or “people in the know” is the most crucial step in forming strong and lasting
relationships in the international business world. Unfortunately, many times these people can be “purchased” and may not always do what is best for the local company.
Also in countries where the population is so corrupt, it is important to understand where and when bribery may be necessary and where and when to leave it out. This film had a perfect example of this when a pilot was offered a bribe to save a local child. The pilot became extremely offended. This caused the man to lose face and therefore he deserved an apology. If we ever offend someone in our international business ventures we need to be aware of the culture they are from and take appropriate actions to allow them to “save face” in order to possibly save our own business deal or relationship with people in that culture.
Corruption is also rampant in some international business and we need to be aware of the harm that may befall us on an international level if we do not heed the warning signs. If you begin to offend to0 many people, chances are in a corrupt country you and or your family may become a target of local or international mafia or governments. Sometimes this may even be your government or company if you are costing them too much money. If something happens to you in another country no one may ever even know what happened to you, but rather they may hear “doctored official reports.” This happens much more than we will allow ourselves to believe. People go missing everyday even here in the United States.
Another thing that is necessary to understand in international business is gifting. One needs to know when and where it may be seen as appropriate to give someone a gift. In many countries around the world giving a gift when meeting a contact for the first time is seen as necessary. In other countries it is seen as offensive and may cost a business deal before it even starts. For instance if you are traveling to a Muslim country, it would be extremely inappropriate to bring a gift for the wife or family of your contact or business associate.
Another fact of international business is being aware of the infrastructure that the country has. Some countries do not have amenities to which we have become used to. There may be no roads, no internet, no running water or toilets. People may be used to traveling by foot or trading with you for animals or produce. These are all things that one should research before even attempting business dealings overseas.
One big thing that I did learn from this film was the fact that there will always be another company from another country waiting to take your place or someone that is willing to partner with you. Much of international business does deal with mergers and partnerships. In this case, the main company actually had subsidiaries or second hand companies do most of the dirty work. This is done so that the parent company can protect its investors if they are ever found out. This is also how they may deal with negative public perception. Blame it on someone else. There will always be that hungry little start-up company in the wings that is willing to step in and take the place of the company that you just discarded in order to save your reputation.
The bottom line with any company, local or international, is profit. The shareholders are always looking at the bottom line which forces the decision makers to focus purely on profit and not necessarily the well being of the people they are affecting. We see this in many companies from pharmaceuticals to clothing manufacturers operating sweat shops or child labor factories. Safety is not such a concern of the subjects in other countries and unfortunately many times this leads to record earnings.
This assignment was meant to be objective and I just target major International Business findings that I seen throughout the movie that we have discussed in class. However, this film sickened me to no end. I was furious after watching this movie at how little we really care about what companies will do in order to make sure that we have the end product that we want. It also angers me that as long as we are getting the products that we want, we turn a “blind eye” to what it takes for us to get that product.
Ultimately, we the population of the developed countries are just as much to blame as the companies that are operating internationally. We are the ones that turn the other cheek in order to get what we want. Although sometimes international business targets the poor and undereducated populations for their benefit, aren’t we the uneducated masses that they are trying to serve. Ignorance is bliss and in this case it was a real eye opener. It boils down to ones own personal ethics and morals. What price will a company have to pay you in order for them to own your soul? Will you follow your ethical and moral guidelines, or will your silence and “blind eye” be purchased by your possible future employer?