16 March 2012
Over the last 25 years there has been a sharpening focus on business ethics as the way to counter corruption. Evangalising goodness is not a new age puritanism. Corruption corrodes economic growth, it eats away at competition, entrenches poverty and creates political instability. Business is seen as playing an important role in the fight against corruption. The more businesses can be motivated to be part of the fight, the better off communities will be.
A German business school has explored opinions on how various sorts of motivation will engage business in resisting corrupt practices. Is it sanctions or incentives, stick or carrot, that is likely to be more effective? More than 220 anti corruption experts from around the World were surveyed.
Most see sanctions as more effective in changing business behaviour. Responses from the public sector, the business sector and civil society were surprisingly consistent. The researchers came to a promising conclusion that it is possible to mobilise a concerted effort across society.
Of the responses
- 94% agreed that corruption is a significant factor when assessing the risk of a business relationship.
- 92% agreed that governments should give preferential treatment to companies that demonstrate adherence to anti-corruption principles.
- 88% said that businesses with a history of corruption should be ineligible for government contracts.
- 77% agreed that governments should publish a list ranking businesses by their levels of corruption.
- 77% agreed that incentives for businesses operating anti corruption programs should be developed by an independent agency.
- 73% agreed that citizens should be able to claim compensation from businesses for social damage caused by their corruption.
- 72% agreed that Civil Society does not focus enough on business as an enabler of corruption.
- 61% agreed that all businesses should be required by the criminal law to have an adequate anti-corruption program.
This research gives no comfort to those economists who see corruption as a lubricant, ensuring the smooth and efficient operation of business, undermining official monopolies and facilitating growth.