Research Companion to Corruption in Organizations
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Research Companion to Corruption in Organizations

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.
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Chapter 7: A Comparative Perspective on Corruption: Kantian, Utilitarian or Virtue?

Rosa Chun


Rosa Chun Introduction The notion of what is socially responsible differs by place and time (Epstein, 1987). Corruption can be a way of life in certain countries while it is a criminal activity in others, depending on how it is construed in difference places, and under different regimes, and at different stages in economic and political development. In other words, ‘what I expect depends on where I come from and the meaning I give to what I experience’ (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1997, p. 21). Until a few years ago citizens of countries in the northern hemisphere believed that corruption was a problem of ‘the South’ (Kumar and Steinmann, 1998). However, the twenty-first century has seen cases of business corruption in the most developed countries becoming a major concern, particularly in damaging the image and reputation of companies, governments and even whole societies. Nevertheless, not all the corruption seems to have the same effect; certain types of corruption seem to have a less threatening effect than others. The aim of this chapter is to understand the idiosyncratic nature of corruption in different countries and its implication on businesses, using the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from Transparency International. Its focus is to use the three lenses of Kantian, utilitarian and virtue ethics to summarize and critique different approaches to addressing corruption. Utilitarian and Kantian stances share the rationalistic approach in guiding ethical behaviour but adopt different principles. The Kantian approach stresses obeying moral principles for human behaviour such as ‘don’t lie’, or...

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