Department of Political Science

The role of costs, benefits, and moral judgments in private-to-private corruption

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  • Krista Jaakson, Faculty of Business Administration, Ton Duc Thang University, Estonia
  • Lars Johannsen
  • Karin H Pedersen
  • Maaja Vadi, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Gaygysyz Ashyrov, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Anne Reino, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Mari-Liis Sööt, Estonian Ministry of Justice, Estonia
Private-to-private corruption has no direct victim and is therefore difficult to combat. Yet it undermines market competition, impedes growth, and sets development at risk. Therefore, knowledge about the reasons for committing crimes is necessary for changing corrupt practices within private sector. This article explores business managers’ perceptions of the extent of bribing within their lines of business and possible explanations for these perceptions. We analyze a survey of 1000 managers of private companies in Denmark and Estonia using structural equation models. Comparing two behavioral causes for bribes, a rational choice theory and a cognitivist theory of action, which adds moral judgment to instrumental rationality, we find that managers find corruption less common when they see it as a breach of their own moral judgment. Costs of bribing do not matter and benefits from bribing play a marginal role in the perceived extent of bribing. Context is also important: managers in Denmark and outside capital cities in both countries deem bribing less common and this is not because they are personally less tolerant of bribing. The implication of this study is that fostering condemnatory attitudes toward private-to-private corruption should be a standard act in combating this form of corporate crime.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Pages (from-to)83-106
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

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