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Marketing activities that originate in Western countries span the globe and reach many cultures. Questions of cross-cultural ethics arise when marketing practices that are acceptable in one country are inappropriate in another.

Consumer marketing, which is impersonal and directed at a mass audience, may be distinguished from relationship marketing, which is based on personal contacts. This is an important distinction because many of the cross-cultural problems surrounding consumer marketing arise precisely because much of the world has traditionally relied on relationship marketing.

World cultures tend to be either rule based or relationship based. Rule-based Western cultures rely on a legal or regulatory system to enforce what are seen as universal rules of fairness. Non-Western norms tend to place human relationships at the center of things. While relationship ...

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