Is bribery acceptable under some circumstances?(状況によっては贈収賄は許されるのか？)
Bribery has a long history that has happening everywhere whether it can be seen or not. Bribery act has obtained more attentions recently, becoming a severe problem in the world. In general terms, it is not a right thing to be involved in bribery. However, it seems bribery has been constantly active in some countries for many reasons. ‘Is bribery acceptable under some circumstances?’ – answering to this question is the objection of this essay. Has it ever been acceptable? If so which extent and what kind of circumstances, to who by whom? Research and analyse as wide and deep as possible of the present-day literature within this topic range. However, bribery is such a border topic, so that in this essay, focus on cultural differences which makes different view of bribery, and discuss how the bribery act is treated in a different way between in diverse countries such as developed and developing countries. Some organisations which are relevant for this topic are provided for application of theories and discussion. And lastly, provide example situations where bribery has seems to be acceptable followed by difficulties of enforcement of law for bribery act.
Oxford dictionaries defines bribe as ‘Persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement’. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (here after referred to as OECD) stated that bribery is “waste” (OECD, 2015). According to surveys on more than 130,000 companies in 135 countries, the estimation of bribes is paid annually is $1 trillion USD in the current world. (The World Bank, 2015).
The example of ‘waste’ might be Enron scandal – One of the biggest fraud in US history. The giant energy company Enron paid to their accountants (Arthur Andersen) up to one hundred million US dollars a year. Accountants kept hiding company’s losses which led the delayed of bankruptcy (BBC NEWS, 2003). There is no clear line between bribery act or not. However, high remuneration made the accountants kept their mouth shut and misused of their position to return the favour in this case. Enron’s failure influenced critically across the world. Thousands of employees lost retirement savings and investors did pension funds. Another case is the most significant event recently happened to The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) that have been suspected of bribery for many years. A total of 14 people, including two vice-president was charged with bribery act for receiving the commercial rights and including the broadcasting rights of the World Cup (Morgenstein, 2015). This news shocked not only employees and soccer fans but also many people across the world. FIFA is such a huge organisation, so that the impact on market cannot be measured. Two cases explain well that bribery destroys company’s reputation, and the industry as well.
Lord (2014) proves that regardless of business structure which are centralised and decentralised business structure, people in advanced countries such as UK or Germany consider bribery as a corruption, and an enforcement of criminal law should be improved.
When bribery affects many people significantly, it seems one of the largest issues in economy which leads to reduction of efficiency and increase of inequality. Because bribery is beyond of moral and ethics issue (OECD, 2015), it should not be acceptable, and all must try to eliminate bribery as a whole (Kemp, 2014).
Notwithstanding of strict regulations in Western countries, bribe still can be seen differently in other non-Western countries, and bribery act can be seen as ‘exchange’ like bribe has numerous nicknames in the world. For instance, ‘little souvenir’ in Japanese, ‘relationship’ in Kenya, Filipinos calls it ‘inner obligation’ and Chinese make ‘connections’ with it (Shaw and et al, 2014).These expressions indicate that every culture has diverse view of bribery. Giving gifts or money to the clients, suppliers, customers, or even to public servants can be a key for successful business in some countries. Nolasco, Sevillano, and et al (2014) collected primary data regarding bribery from public transport drivers to the public servants in the Philippines. Despite of the drivers think it is not fair, but the money save their time and energy, even their jobs at the end. This case shows that when there is no regulations, and income is unable to satisfy basic needs, people tend to bribe. Moreover, society accept the existence of bribery (Sutherland, 2015), therefore, the reputation of the organisation does not hurt as much as when bribery-act was disclosed in advanced nations.
Cultural difference is affecting bribery as it is mentioned above, how about when the cultures intergrade? Hutchings (2002) red-flags that not having enough understanding of the fundamental cultural difference of country may lead organisations cause of irreparable damage to nations. Bierstaker (2009) argues from different view that people are not trading their arm’s length nowadays because of higher technology gives them convenience. Because they cannot see people on the other side, the difference of each culture are tend to be forgotten. Akbar, Y., Vujic, V(2014) point out that people continue to carry their culture to the mainstream. The culture with a low anti-bribery tradition remains, but the one with high –bribery-acceptable tradition also persist in the society.
In the business scene, corporations are becoming global as national borders are no longer recognisable by popularisation of internet and they strive for more profit through operations in low-cost countries (Brody, 2009). Where multinational corporations try to enter the market, they often face bribery issue. Either International organisations offer bribes to have less restrictions, effort and time to maximise their profit, or they may be offered to pay the bribe to operate in their countries (Windsor, 2013). Besides, bribery may be legal when there is no prohibitive laws. Because of trade rules are based on unfair. If they refuse to bribe, they are unable to do well in the certain market while their competitors obtaining benefits. Shaw, Barry, and et al (2015) support that the concept of ‘cultural relativism’ stands out when they do business in host countries, which means because ethics and standards are different in different countries, international firms should accept and adopt local’s culture. The corporations as their guests should not intrude own culture and perception on the local’s. Does it mean that an organisation should pay bribe to operate in a country where bribe has been ingrained? Windsor (2013) answers that even though there might be no legal obligations, but multinational corporations have responsibility to act ethically.
Bribery is one of social behaviour to be successful, because people live in capitalism. Bribe can be paid when market and companies are privately owned, and economic is operated in private hands. For example, the liberalisation of telecommunications in Kenya opened investors across the world to bribe millions to get the licence to operate. (Sutherland, 2015) This results suggest that capitalism might lead the corruption worse. There is an old saying ‘Every man has his price’. It is the sense that there is a price for each people to acquire, and people move as he likes by giving the bribe. These sayings from the past tell that human are weak to money regardless of all ages and countries. This also can be explained by one of the feature of capitalism; humans are self-interest and wealth maximisers, therefore elimination of bribery totally is challenging.
Bribery act occurs under soft law or even no law (Chatterjee, 2014). However, it is not easy to detect bribery act and difficult to press charge for that with current system. Johns (2012) suggests all the corporations should follow principles of The Bribery Act, and put effort to prevent bribery act by especially educating employees. Kemp (2014) adds that leaders of organisations also need to act as a whole to improve the state of company since they have power to regulate the system and change the culture of their own company. One of the example is the creation of safe environment for employees to disclose unethical practices. Papadakis (2015) pointed that in Australia, there have been only two cases which were prosecuted regarding of bribery since the year of the registration was introduced in 1999. The OECD criticised the lack of enforcement of Australia’s laws for international bribery cases. Rangan (2015) argues that punishment should be tougher for particularly corporations which have higher corporate social responsibility as they set the rules for society. Kinder, Lydenberg, and Domini scores which is the most common measurement to judge how well organisation take corporate social responsibility (Higher the scores are, better CSR performances) shows that there is still an embarrassing characteristic is that corporations that have higher scores receive less punishment for bribery. ——argues that government should play its role to reduce or try to eliminate citizens to either offer or accept bribery.
Yet, it is not easy for countries such as India and The Philippines where corruption and bribery are common. The reasons are; bribery is the main income for most of public servants, some people cannot afford basic needs without money from bribery, weak economic condition, and the punishment for bribery act is seen as ‘bad luck’ (Brody, 2009). This is why bribery has been acceptable for those country. However, people in the world is getting more aware of bribery scandals (Windsor, 2013). A multinational drug company GSK pleaded guilty for paying bribes to suppliers in China to use their products last year. According to Financial times, their sales decreased by 61 percent in China (Meier, 2013).
Social contract theory explain this situation. Person’s moral is depended on what society accept or not.
In conclusion, It is not simple to answer yes or no for the question -‘Is bribery acceptable under some circumstances?’ as bribery is a border issue that has no clear definition under different cultures, ether no sharp line between legal or not. The consequences of bribery act such as increasing of inequality and decreasing of distrust of government are significant.
Because of culture diverse, enforcement of regulations and laws, and system of economy, bribery has been treated as differently and acceptable by some people in mostly underdeveloped countries where corruptions are rampant. An organisation will face dilemma of bribery act as globalisation of the world. It is important to harmonise the difference of cultures by using ‘balanced approach’ to negotiate, or ‘problem-solving-oriented’ approach to perform differently depending on situation (Liu, 2015). In addition, act ethically is its huge responsibility. However, uncountable issues behind of bribery act should not be forgotten. Elimination of the issues might lead of decline bribery act. Moreover, People are seeking ethical act more and more so that number of bribery will gradually reduce in the future.
BBC NEWS 2003, viewed 31 Aug 2015, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2756345.stm>
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(Nolasco et al. 2014)
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