Code of ethics for SMEs: substantiating the necessity and willingness to implement in Ukraine

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The article substantiates the necessity of development and implementation of ethical rules of doing business into the business practices of small and medium enterprises. Particular attention is paid to business entities in Ukraine as a country with one of the highest levels of shadow economy. The two-level structure of SMEs’ Code of Ethics designed by the author is being presented, which is based on the following key concepts: transparency of business entities activity, partnership integrity, environmental and social responsibility, which are interrelated and reflected in the individual modules of the Code.
The article presents the results of approbation of the author’s Code of Ethics for SMEs. The approbation is based on a personal and interactive questionnaire about the readiness of Ukrainian SMEs representatives to introduce ethical norms into their activities. The authors determined that Ukrainian SMEs are not well-informed about possible positive effects from following norms and rules in business, in particular, in terms of improving the business climate in the country, increasing the investment attractiveness of the economy as a whole and economic entities in particular, simplifying the access to financial and credit instruments.
The survey and questionnaire of Ukrainian SMEs confirmed the need for the development and implementation of the business Code of Ethics norms, as well as potential demand for it. The respondents recognize the importance of certain international ethical rules in conducting business, which may contribute to attracting investment in Ukraine; however, this is not the only factor affecting the investment attractiveness of domestic business. It is substantiated that the business climate improvement is a complex issue, and the Code of Ethics, in this context, creates the opportunities of guiding and encouraging participants to the active influence on the business environment: to declare zero tolerance to corruption and to form and to maintain clear position in interactions with the public authorities.

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    • Figure 1. Place of Ukraine under the sub-index “Institutions”
    • Figure 2. The main modules of the Code of Ethics provision for the SMEs’ behavior
    • Figure 3. Structural indicators of answers to questions that determine the urgency of the research
    • Figure 4. Structural indicators of answers to questions that determine the possibility of using the results, applying qualitative research methods
    • Figure 5. Structural indicators of answers to questions that determine the most commonly used practices of practitioners (SMEs) about the image of the country
    • Figure 6. Structural indicators of answers to questions that determine the relevance and significance of the Code modules, %
    • Figure 7. Structural indicators of answers to questions that determine the optimistic and pessimistic expectations and alternatives of the respondents, %
    • Table 1. The list of questions of marketing research on the theme “Necessity of the Code of Ethics implementation for the Management of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises”