Are some bribes more harmful than others? Exploring the ethics behind anti-bribery laws

David-Barrett, Elizabeth (2014) Are some bribes more harmful than others? Exploring the ethics behind anti-bribery laws. Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, 26 (1-2). pp. 119-144. ISSN 0260-1079

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Abstract

The proliferation of anti-bribery laws in recent years, particularly with the passage of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, sends a firm signal to companies that norms concerning corruption in international business have changed. With the increase in legal risk has come an increase in reputational risk. However, these laws and the cultures of enforcement around them, send conflicting messages about bribery being avoidable or indeed unethical. For example, many laws include an exemption or a defence for facilitation payments implying that such bribes are less unethical or that firms have a weaker responsibility to avoid paying them, than is the case for bribes ‘to gain a business advantage’. This article seeks to analyse whether this distinction has a basis in ethics. It suggests that some bribes are less harmful than others in terms of their direct impact. However, all bribes are harmful, because they always undermine the rule of law.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics > BJ1725 Ethics of social groups, classes, etc. Professional ethics
J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC131 Modern state
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General) > JF1338 Public administration
K Law > KF Law of the United States
K Law > KF Law of the United States
Depositing User: Elizabeth David-Barrett
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2014 11:19
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2014 11:19
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51488
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