In this week's edition of the Economic Report, Vladimir Tax talks to the members of the Viva Etika coalition, an initiative set up to improve business ethics in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic's business environment started developing after the collapse of Communism in 1989. The previous 40 years of totalitarianism, inexperience with the market economy, weak government regulations and inadequate law enforcement have complicated the development of a healthy and ethical business environment. Although things have gradually improved, the state of affairs has inspired non-governmental organisations, multi-national corporations as well as small firms to join forces in an effort to improve business ethics in the Czech Republic and promote good corporate citizenship in a coalition called Viva Etika. David Ondracka is the project manager of Transparency International: The founding members of Viva Etika mainly include Czech branches of large multi-national corporations, such as Merck, Shell, Monsanto, GE Capital Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Johnson&Johnson, to mention just a few.
I met representatives of two of the founding partners, Roger Stanley, the director of forensic services of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Central and Eastern Europe, and Steffen Brygger, the executive director of pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme. I began by asking why they joined the Viva Etika coalition. Steffen Brygger first: As far as corruption is concerned, the Czech Republic occupies 37th place on Transparency International's corruption index index, far behind most of the developed countries of Europe, North America and Asia. Unlike Mr Stanley, David Ondracka sees corruption as a really urgent problem. Although the founding members include mainly multi-national corporations, Mr. Ondracka explained that the coalition was open to virtually anyone.