WILLIAMSBURG, VA -- The Mason School of Business welcomed Hans Decker, former Vice Chairman of Siemens, as the third speaker in the Ethics Speaker Series on April 7, 2008. Decker spoke to MBA students, Executive Partners, faculty and staff, Decker's topic was Values in the Global Corporate Environment.
Decker challenged the audience to remember that different cultures produce different values and while a global business environment thrives, moral values remain specific to each culture. When working with international businesses, Decker suggests that "you might have to step back from your immediate impulse and ask certain questions about the situation." One example he used was child labor and how Americans' initial reaction to the idea would be that of disgust. However, take that opinion into a third world country, and one has to put the situation into context. A thirteen year-old working just may be the family's only means of income.
Decker suggested that companies can take this a step further by aiming to improve the conditions within the community while moving into a direction where child labor is unthinkable. Global companies have responsibilities to follow business laws and regulations as well as to align themselves with the societal needs of their community.
Decker joined the Legal Department of Siemens Corporation in 1958 after receiving a doctorate of law from the University of Heidelberg. He supervised Siemens US investments through two decades of explosive growth and was responsible for the strategic guidance for growth and development of Siemens US businesses and positioning of Siemens as a corporate entity, reliable onshore supplier, and corporate citizen. Ultimately, he completed his time with Siemens as Vice Chairman and retired in 1992. Over those years Decker saw the company grow from 700 to 70,000 employees.
Brie Gallagher MBA '08 and Professor Ed Felton organized the event.