Business Ethics at ABB*



Case Code : CLINDM002
Publication date : 2006
Subject : Industrial Marketing
Industry : Computers-IT and ITeS
Teaching Note : Available
Length : 06 Pages
Price : Rs. 100

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Key words:

Asea Brown Boveri Limited, Mission, Decentralized compliance structure, ‘ABB Business Ethics Guidelines', ‘ABB Business Ethics Standards', Joint ventures, ‘Festival of Second-hand things', ‘Give the children back a Smile'campaign, Illegal payments, Process automation, Robotics, Securities and Exchange Commission, US Department of Justice, Transparency, Zero tolerance policy, Bribes, Corporate social responsibility (CSR), Merger, Acquisition


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The caselet throws light on the various initiatives taken by ABB Ltd, the world leader in power and automation technologies toward maintaining highest ethical standards in business. The importance of business ethics to ABB is further highlighted in the latter portion of the caselet, which examines a few situations in which ABB took necessary actions towards curbing illegal practices by its employees. The case also discusses the various corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by the company.


  » The importance of ethical practices for industrial marketers.
  » Business ethics as the core of the company's culture.
  » Need for employees towards upholding the highest ethical standards.
  » The enforcement of zero tolerance for illegal or unethical behavior
  » The Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives of ABB.


The ABB group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 103,000 people. ABB is organized into five divisions Power products, Power systems, Automation products, Process automation, and Robotics.

It is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Brown Boveri merged with Asea and the merged company was called Asea Brown Boveri Limited in 1989. The name was changed to ABB Ltd in 2003...

Questions for Discussion:

1. What were the various measures undertaken by ABB to uphold its business ethical standard?

2 Business Ethics on paper cannot be translated into practice; breach of ethics is inevitable in buyer-seller dealings. What were the probable reasons that could have led ABB officials to make illegal payments in their business dealings, despite the presence of an ethical code of conduct?

3. The Securities and Exchange Commission levied fines and penalties on ABB, in spite of the company reporting the breach of ethics voluntarily. What could be the repercussions of this action on other global industrial marketers to practice ethics?