A 2011 Study by Tanja Rabl says that corruption has 3 situational factors: the size of the bribe, time pressure, and the degree of abstractness of business codes.
1. The higher the bribe, the higher the temptation. There is a significant relationship between (perceived) incentives and unethical behaviour.
2. This one is interesting: the stronger the time pressure needed to achieve business goals, the more likely people are pressured to accept the attitudes, values, and practices of OTHER people. Under time pressure, people lose their long-held individual values and give in to what OTHER people or institutions want. Subjective norms and values of people change as circumstances change — and a strong desire to act corruptly is seen when there is a high time pressure to achieve goals even if the individuals were very honest before this pressure happened.
3. The higher level of abstraction in business codes, the more likely corruption is going to seep into its system. “Participants who acted for companies with a business code explicitly not tolerating corruption more often refused corruption than participants acting for companies with a more abstract business code simply demanding integrity.” Abstract and unclear behavioural guidelines facilitate corruption.
What can we learn from this and what can we do?
1. It is a numbers game. The adage, “Everyone has a price.” is correct, which means the (perceived) cost of penalty should be higher than the perceived reward of corruption. Every time someone who is corrupt is not penalised for misdeeds, we allow more people to understand that corruption is a REWARDING experience, not a PENALISING one.
2. When people are pressured to meet deadlines, they’re more likely to cut corners. Conversely, when institutions are not efficient due to lack of good processes or they’re “intentionally inefficient,” then there is a higher likelihood of corruption. While values formation is the correct long term step, a more concrete solution to corruption is just pure efficiency. In fact, values are formed through user experience. Systems form values: in school, we didn’t learn to wait because our teachers taught us that waiting is a value, we learned to wait in school because there was a system for standing in line.
3. Simplify, clarify, make concrete codes of conduct and behaviour. We need every company and every organisation to say, “We will not tolerate corruption and we will punish every employee that is caught tolerating this.” We do not need a document like the Constitution when we’re dealing with corruption, we need an explicit rule book.