02.05.2014 | Petra Blinnikka

Havaintoja vastuullisuuteen ja kestävyyteen liittyvistä haasteista eri maiden näkökulmista Vol 3

Seuraavaksi pääsemme tutustumaan organisaatioiden eettisyyteen Italiassa. Tämän artikkelin ovat kirjoittaneet restonomiopiskelijat Toni Järviö, Viivi Hirvonen, Niina Redsven sekä Emmi-Kirsikka Hämäläinen.

Organizational ethics in Italy – just a pretty thing on a paper?


Italy is a land of corruption and tax evading, Silvio Berlusconi and pizza. Italy is one of the wealthiest country in the world, at the same time it also has second biggest debt and lowest unemployment rate. How is this possible is a question we are trying to answer.

Article contains material about organizational ethics, basic information about Italy and literature review of the subject. We have researched what organizational ethics means, how it shows and how it is used in Italy.


Italia, organizational ethics, organizational, ethics, CSR, corporate social responsibility, corporate, social, responsibility

Literature review

What is organizational ethics? The general definition is that it is ethics of an organization, how organization ethically responds to an external or internal stimulus. Meaning things happening the outside company, stakeholders and communities for example and inside the company, wellbeing of the employees for example.

It is said that there are four basic elements of organizational ethics. First a written code of ethics and standards. Second ethics training for executives, managers and employees. Third availability of ethical situational advices and last confidential reporting systems. When all these elements are implemented in company, it can be seen as ethical organization (wikipedia, Organizational ethics).

Second part of article is country that we are studying, for this article it is Italy. Italy is a country in Europe, population is 59 685 227. Italy was world ninth-largest economy in 2012 by GDP of 29 598 per capita and unemployment rate of 8.5 %, which is one of the lowest in Europe. As this article studies organizations, most of the Italy’s enterprises are small, average of 3,9 employees per company while European average is 6, because of that small companies are important part of the local communities.

On the other hand Italy also has massive debts, 116% of GDP, second largest after Greece, assumed reason behind this is high rate of tax evasion, even Italy’s own tax offices evade taxes (Yle.fi). As our assumption tax evasion tend to drive their own advantages because of that, history repeats itself, as Machiavelli noted in the 15th century that people usually are more concerned about themselves. They corrupt the organization to achieve their own interests at the expense of the state. The result is the eventual failure of every republic. There’s no way of avoiding personal and private interest in the calculus of public decision making (Cow 2009, 5).

Set of values

Today’s world include a lot of values that companies should follow, Perrini et al. included the following as main values that companies follow

  • Environmental management
  • Employment
  • Supply chain
  • Local community
  • Controlling and reporting: Ethical code, Social report, Environmental report
  • Community volunteering
  • Volunteering
  • Subsidised financing

There are differences about how companies follow those, small enterprises for example shows their ethical code in public and are more likely to motivate their employees toward volunteer activities outside the firm more like to than large firms. Large firms are more likely to include following in their ethical code, selecting suppliers that got certain certifications (ISO 9001:200 and SA8000), briefing of employees and allowing employees to work with flexible work time.

Company size isn’t only factor that affects in used values. Industry that company is operating at and geographical location make great deal also. Firms located in north report their corporate social responsibility strategies and firms at south are interested in employment conditions and involvement with local communities. Firms operating in construction and trade and tourism are more likely to take account the employment conditions, firms operating at ICT are more willing to control and report their corporate social responsibility behaviours and manufacturing industry motivate their employees through volunteer community activities. (Perrini et al.)

There has been many CSR-projects and initiatives in Italy over the years. One initiative worth mentioning was carried in Italy in 2002 by the Italian ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was a project called Corporate Social Responsibility – Social Commitment. One the main aims was to ensure that the reporting of corporate social responsibility is true and reliable. The initiatives have assuredly affected on organizational ethics in Italy in some way, but much remains to be done.


We examined articles that were collected by surveys, examined old ideologies and reflection of those to todays world and countries. It wasn’t easy to find information about this subject but we managed to find some articles and other publications that were related to subject somehow. Most of the publications we found were published in Italian and we don’t have the knowledge for translation.


The main problem in organizational ethics seems to be lack of trust in society. Even though organizations try to operate with good ethical manners but in background there’s unethical acts which starts all the way from government. For example even the Italian tax system is involved with the tax fraud. These kind of scandals affect the public picture of companies ethics so they try to clean up their reputation with fancy corporate social responsibility reports. Large corporations mostly use only those parts that are required and SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) use those parts which benefits them the most. SMEs form a big part of the local community so small firm owner-managers have recognized ethics as a crucial issue to success.

As Macciavelli already said people are very self-interested. They care about themselves first, then their close community and the least of the whole society. And in a country where government doesn’t take care of the people, the people don’t have the time or interest to take care of the society. Usually people are more capable to act socially sustainably when they feel that they owe it to the society. That is also a reason why SME are utilizing CSR more than big corporations. Entrepreneurs work with locals and people of their community are very close to them.

The tools for implementing good organizational ethics already exist but most of the companies aren’t using them. There should be a little less conversation, more action. Macciavelli et al. also pointed out that term “ethics” has a different meaning in American and European way of thinking. When Americans talk about ethics they mean ethical philosophy and actions towards it. But European talk it only stays in the level of thinking, not go to actions. Integrity is a word that contains also the action behind the talk. Could that be a reason why the big talk hasn’t yet been utilized as much as it would? Maybe we should start conversation about organizational integrity instead of ethics.

Benetton is known about advertisements which are committing ones. On the website they are also telling about values which the company and employees have. The Finnish magazine Kuluttaja is not sure about is Benetton working in the same way which is reading on their website. Is it again just talking and no action?


Benetton Group. 2011. Work with Us: Diversity. Referred 11.12.2013.  http://www.benettongroup.com/work-with-us/diversity

Burtsov, P. 2013.Italian verotoimistoa epäillään veronkierrosta. Yle Uutiset. Referred 29.11.2013. http://yle.fi/uutiset/italian_verotoimistoa_epaillaan_veronkierrosta/6840374

Cow, R. 2009. Ethics and Integrity in Public Administration. M.E. Sharpe, Inc: USA.

Kuluttaja-lehti. 2007. Eettinen pikamuoti, lähes mahdoton yhtälö. Referred 11.12.2013. http://www.kuluttaja.fi/Page/bab451be-512f-4ea3-b3ae-6ead53cc82d2.aspx

Perrini, F., Pogutz, S. & Tencati, A. 2006. Journal of Business Strategies. Corporate social responsibility in Italy: state of the art. Center of Business and Economic Research. Referred 29.11.2013.  http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Journal-Business-Strategies/217605354.html

Perrini, F., Russo, A. & Tencati, A. 2007. CSR Strategies of SMEs and Large Firms. Evidence from Italy. Journal of Business Ethics. Referred 29.11.2013. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10551-006-9235-x

Wikipedia. Italy. Basic information of the country of Italy. Referred 29.11.2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy

Suosituimmat avainsanat

benchmarking, Corporate social responsibility, eettisyys, ekologinen kestävyys, erityisasiakasryhmä, esteettömyys, EU, ihmisoikeudet, ikäihmiset, jätteiden lajittelu, Keski-Suomi, KESMA II-hanke, kestävyys, kestävä matkailu, kotimaa, kulttuuri, kulttuurinen kestävyys, kulttuuriperintö, lapsiperhe, lapsityövoima, liiketoiminta, lähiruoka, maatiaiskasvit, markkinointi, matkailu, matkailua kaikille, oikeudenmukaisuus, organizational ethics, palvelu, perinnekasvit, ravintolapalvelut, ruokamatkailu, ruukki, saavutettavuus, sosiaalinen kestävyys, Tarinakone, tarinallistaminen, Tarinatyöpaja, Uusi-Seelanti, valosaaste, vastuullinen matkailu, vastuullinen palveluliiketoiminta, vastuullisuus, viestintä, ympäristön suunnittelu

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