This is a big question – and a very important one, and becoming more important with every passing year. The question applies to individuals, to companies, and even to nations. It was mentioned in an article earlier, that a 2015 survey had found that China, Indonesia and India were rated as the most corrupt countries of Asia and Japan and Singapore were the least corrupt. A measure of trustworthiness! But things have not changed dramatically in the past six years.
So we have China, which takes away land in a piecemeal fashion–until you realise one day that it is miles and miles of land–barren maybe, and sometimes snow clad. But it is someone else’s land nevertheless. A nation that cannot be trusted, at least by India.
We have Dai-Ichi of Japan, buying Ranbaxy, a large pharmaceuticals company in India, in a multi- million dollar deal – and much later Dai-Ichi realises that some large debts were not disclosed at the time of the sale. Dai-Ichi then went to court to recover the amount- and the court case continues!
A book Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban also lists the pharma companies of India that have been found guilty of exporting substandard products to the US over the past many years, where again Ranbaxy features as the biggest culprit.
So here you have the names of companies who have taken advantage of the fact that every import into the US is not subjected to random-sample checks – and, therefore, they have gotten by. Now these are companies that cannot be trusted by foreign buyers–and perhaps not even by India.
We have companies that care more for their own image, more than they care for their employees–and where employees then lose trust in their employer.
Some companies underpay their employees (and can get by because of the high level of joblessness), yet they show large donations to charities. They project an image of high social consciousness–when, at the same time, the employees are planning to go on strike to demand a fairer deal!
It is a world where employees do not trust their employers!
Company job interviews are areas where trust should have been supreme, but sometimes is not. There was the chief executive officer (CEO), who advertised senior appointments every year. The idea was to get inside information about direct competitors from candidates from these companies who applied for these non-existent jobs, and in their anxiety to succeed at the interview, would reveal all.
Likewise, there are candidates, who will lie about qualifications, experience and previous emoluments- in order to make faster progress. Again, a matter of loss of trust.
Beyond the commercial world, there are also individuals in the world of politics who falsify their records of qualifications and criminal record, in order to be able to stand for elections and hopefully win–and then even more hopefully, be able to change or amend the records.
On a visit to Indonesia, I was told that "our corruption is ethical." When an official takes a bribe and does not deliver on his promise, he returns the amount. So those who pay a bribe have trust, although it may still be looked at as an unethical transaction.
To change the focus to Japan–the nation with just a 1.9 score in the corruption rating. I had arrived a day earlier to attend and address a world marketing summit in Tokyo.
My hosts were kind enough to give me transport and an escort to take a ride around the city – and I saw long queues outside malls and supermarkets. I thought there was a sale going on – and I asked my host.
He explained that before my arrival the previous evening, there was a mild earthquake, and shoppers rushed out with whatever they had bought, in order to get home as soon as possible. All of them had come back this morning to declare what they had taken the previous evening and to make the required payment.
This was trust in the individual – and something that will be replicated in perhaps, very few places in the world!
My friend John went to Japan on a work trip many years ago and bought a tape recorder to bring back to India. When he went back to his hotel room, he tried to play it but failed. Since he was leaving Japan that night, he phoned the shop and told them about his predicament. Within two hours there was a person who came with a replacement – and checked in his presence that it was working. Then, he took the earlier purchase and showed John that that was also working.
John then apologised and offered to take the earlier purchase back with him.
“Oh no,” he said, “We don’t want you to go from Japan with a purchase about which you have a doubt. Please take the new one – please. No one should say that products from Japan are not dependable or are defective. Any product.”
Trust in a company – and in some ways, trust in a nation!
When you see that the former prime minister of Malaysia is booked and in jail for corruption; the former president of South Korea has been sentenced for corruption; or the former president of France may soon be in the dock for corruption when he was in power; the chairman of the largest corporation in South Korea was arrested for bribing the government – we then know that humankind still values trust–in spite of all the technological progress that would have been made in the last century.
(Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe, and Asia. His latest 3 books written in collaboration are 5Gs of Family Business; Marketing in a Digital/ data world; and Customer Value Starvation can kill. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)