Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

This paper views corruption as activity that tends to undermine a cultural system. Because cultures operate in very different ways, different activities are corrupting in different parts of the world. The paper analyzes real-life situations in Japan, Taiwan, India, China, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Korea to distinguish actions that structurally undermine a cultural system from those that are merely inefficient or are actually supportive. Activities such as nepotism or cronyism that are corrupting in the rule-based cultures of the West may be functional in relationship-based cultures. Behavior that is normal in the West, such as bringing lawsuits or adhering strictly to a contract, may be corrupting elsewhere. Practices such as bribery that are often corrupting across cultures are nonetheless corrupting for very different reasons. This perspective provides culturally-sensitive guidelines not only for avoiding corruption but for understanding the mechanisms that make a culture work.





Published In

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal , 16, 3, 251-267.