9 in 10 UK managers use bribery when operating overseas

A 12-year study reveals that 80 per cent of board level executives admit to being aware of the corrupt practise, yet very little can be done about it.

New research from Henley Business School indicates that over 85 per cent of UK managers are using bribery on a monthly basis when operating in culturally different environments.

The 12-year inquiry, based on intimate conversations with over 900 business leaders, further reveals that 80 per cent of board level executives admit to being aware of the practise.

The project originally began in 2004 as an exercise to help coach and support high-level business individuals who were struggling with certain aspects and demands of their jobs, according to professor of governance and leadership at Henley Business School, Andrew Kakabadse.

“However, it quickly became apparent that a key obstacle was dealing with everyday fraud, bribery and corruption. In other words, if they didn’t pay-up to achieve their organisation’s objectives, then their competitors certainly would.”

The research team’s work covered managers from Russia, Ireland, China, Georgia, Germany, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

These suspect business practises are typically costing organisations 5 per cent of their revenue annually and are often committed by concerned managers, who feel that they have no alternative other than to pull out of the country in question.

“No one condones the idea of bribery including the vast majority of citizens in a particular country. Instead, many concentrate on the so called ‘corrupt manager,’ while bribery is largely a result of inequality and dishonest government,” Professor Kakabadse explained.

Working in foreign markets naturally means having to adopt local practices. But with so many countries in the world are now deeply corrupt, the only alternative is no business.

“Our work shows that leadership decisions and morality are proving more powerful in practice than any governance or regulatory frameworks. The only way to address bribery is to recognise and bring to the surface the reality of what is happening in the world,” Professor Kakabadse added.

“A more concerted effort and partnership between business and government can start changing these deeply undesired practices which destroy public trust in society. This is a situation that has become so serious it is beyond the realm of any one manager or organisation to solve.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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