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Presentation Abstract: Corruption is a pervasive and resistant social phenomenon that applies to the private as well as the public sector. In spite of the rich and sophisticated social science literature on the topic of corruption, there are still a number of fields in which more nuanced and empirical research need to be done. Two of these fields concern two expressions of the cultural aspects of corruption. The first is the national culture, the second the culture of organizations (in the public and business sectors). Although the two aspects cannot be conflated into a single one, I suggest that they play an important and often underrepresented role in understanding the root of this complex phenomenon.
Organizational culture and work climate are particularly relevant factors in understanding vulnerability to corruption. Since corruption is illegal and unethical, corrupt practices necessitate the growth of particular norms within the corrupt focal group or organization. These norms may be in conflict with the stated values of the organization, and will require secrecy to disguise the corrupt behavior. On the other hand, excessive focus on the ethical and the compliance aspects may lead to failure in understanding the true motivations that lead personnel to break the rules and act dishonestly. These motivations are influenced both by the organizational climate and cultural, and by the national culture of the actors. Qualitative and ethnographic field research may allow penetrating deeper into the organizational cultural features that leave space to conditions of integrity loss and unethical behavior.
Short Bio: Dr. Davide Torsello is an Associate Professor at CEU Business School, Budapest. An anthropologist by training, he has conducted ethnographic research on topics such as political and business corruption, corporate compliance mechanisms, corporate culture and integrity, culture and accountability. At CEU Business School he is member of the Center for Integrity in Business and Government, where he has worked to develop a curriculum framework for business integrity education in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (Siemens Grant).
Dr. Torsello has also participated in the “Methodology” group of the UN Global Compact PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) project and toolkit. He has published extensively on corruption in business and politics taking an anthropological perspective. Among his main publications, are the books: The New Environmentalism? Civil Society and Corruption in the Enlarged EU (2012, Ashgate); Debates of Corruption and Integrity. Perspectives from Europe and the US(2015, Palgrave, co-edited with P. Hardi and P. Heywood). His main theoretical standpoints on corruption are summarized in the paper “The Anthropology of Corruption” (with B. Venard), Journal of Management Inquiry (2016, forthcoming).