Professional PR Ethics in Developing Economies: Comparative Analysis of Russia and Thailand

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The paper examines basic ethical aspects of PR practices and their reflection in the process of educating PR professionals in Russia and Thailand. The hypothesis is that in both developing countries, PR ethics are still developing the status of institutional regulator of the industry.
Universities in countries with “non-Western” business cultures are to a certain degree founded on the Western educational model. On the other hand, in non-Western developing economies, universities, as well as their alumni’s professional behavior, are influenced by local cultural, ethical, religious and other contexts. All these factors bring up interesting problems that are worth examining; problems regarding shaping professional qualities in practitioners who will be working in an environment where economic globalization crosses paths with national cultural trends and business traditions.
A survey of two groups of PR students in each country (freshmen – first year students, and seniors – those graduating in 2 months) was conducted to examine whether Western standards of professional ethics influence the ethical imperatives of national business cultures, and whether peculiarities of national business mentalities determine the differences in views on PR. Their ideas about the PR profession and its ethics can be seen as an important empirical indicator of the overall ethical standards in the national business environment. Their understanding of professional ethics is a mixture of what they have learned from their textbooks (usually Western ones), what they learned from their professors, and what they observed watching practitioners at work during internships.
The results show a fairly comparable attitude toward professional ethics among the freshmen and senior students from the same culture.
They were similar in describing the profession as a whole; professional and unprofessional qualities of PR specialists; assessing the perceived prestige of the PR profession in the country; and defining ethical prohibitions for PR specialists. The differences clearly appeared in crosscultural comparisons, especially when it came to professional qualities, common understandings of PR ethics, and ethical compromises. For example, evaluations of the prestige of the profession by Thai and Russian freshmen were diametrically opposed.

Thai students overall demonstrate a more explicit connection between ethics and professionalism in PR, while Russian students, in turn, insist on a more persistent realization of ethical principles, and demonstrate less dependence on the particular conditions of ethical dilemmas. The findings suggest that despite certain similarities in business cultures between Russia and Thailand, cultural differences have a greater influence on participants’ views of professional ethics than do education and practical experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-224
Number of pages23
JournalNational Resilience, Politics and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • public relations
  • ethics
  • Russia
  • Thailand
  • PR-education


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