Research Companion to Corruption in Organizations

Research Companion to Corruption in Organizations

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper

Corruption in organizations is creating an increasing number of victims and causing huge costs. This timely book brings together international researchers who address the causes and consequences of corruption in organizations and the action needed to reduce levels of corruption worldwide.

Introduction: Corruption in Organizations: Causes, Consequences and Choices

Ronald J. Burke

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, organisational behaviour, economics and finance, corporate governance


Introduction Introduction Corruption in organizations: causes, consequences and choices Ronald J. Burke* This introduction serves as a primer for the analysis of the causes and consequences of corruption in organizations, and the choices facing individuals, organizations and societies in their efforts to reduce corruption. It identifies central themes in this area and serves as an introduction to the more intensive chapters that make up the remainder of the volume. What do we mean by corruption? Ashforth et al. (2007) define corruption as ‘the illicit use of one’s position or power for perceived personal or collective gain’ (p. 671). The following paragraphs identify some of the main theses relevant to understanding corruption in organizations. The Ethics Resource Center in the US, in a survey of about 2000 employees, found that 56 percent had seen ethical failures, and 42 percent of those who saw these did not report them. Companies with weak ethical cultures had more misconduct; thus 98 percent of employees saw misconduct in organizations with weak ethical cultures versus only 24 percent of employees in companies with strong ethical cultures. An ethical culture, in their view, comprised four factors: ethical leadership, supervisory reinforcement of ethical conduct, co-worker commitment to ethics, and having ethical values embedded in the organization’s culture. Individuals are likely to participate in corrupt behavior or turn a blind eye towards it in order to fit into or belong to the organization, and if they strongly identify with the organization. Organizations with a short-term financial emphasis were more...