Sub-theme 06: Organizational Resilience and the Resilience of Corruption
Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City, Mexico,
University of York, UK
Work Research Institute, Norway
Thomas Taro Lennerfors
Uppsala University, Sweden
Call for papers
Corruption, i.e. the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, is undoubtedly a central problem to handle for organizations. Among others, corruption has the unpleasant characteristic of disrupting any pursuit of goods, such as poverty alleviation, equality, inclusion, human rights, and environmental conservation. Hence, there is a need for organizations to be resilient against corruption in order to protect and preserve democratic social, political and organization institutions.
However, because of inherent traits of corruption which together constitute the resilience of corruption, such organizational resilience is not easy. Corruption is often invisible, by being deliberately obscured and hidden by its participants. Corruption may also be psychologically externalized to some distant place or types of actors, a process which contributes to sustain images of purity and absence of corruption. Furthermore, corruption may be so open and taken for granted that authorities or other actors fail to take notice of it – for instance by being normalized, socialized and institutionalized as accepted behaviour. In fact, some forms of corruption may even beneficial to the functioning of organizations or to reach legitimate ends – consider for instance the dilemmas facing emergency aid organizations when needing to bribe officials to gain access to specific areas or to cross borders. Finally, corruption may also span across organizational boundaries. These issues make corruption extremely difficult to detect and to combat, and thus contribute to its resilience against efforts to fight it.
Organizational resilience against corruption may be understood in different ways. One way is through protecting organizations and its members against corrupt practices. Organizations, spanning from supra-national organizations to state governments to businesses, are therefore required to participate in the struggle against corruption. Often, anti-corruption takes on standardized forms, being a natural part of codes of conduct created by companies, industry organizations, and professional organizations. There is now even an ISO standard for anti-corruption (ISO37000). Another way of understanding resilience is through recovery in the aftermath of corrupt incidents or even mediatized scandals. For instance, responses to exposed scandals may turn into large scale cleansing programs; not only with the expulsion of unwanted elements, but with also an exponential growth of compliance staff.
Such efforts of organizational resilience are often difficult to perform in practice, and there are few guarantees that they will successfully handle the problem. One issue is that they are often (too) rigid; introduced rules may be inherently difficult to interpret, which leads to some uncertainty of individuals who need to relate to the rules. A result is that rules artificially separate a complex reality - a large “grey area” of corruption - into black and white areas. Another issue is that anti-corruption measures focus too extensively on fighting petty corruption, but fail to address grand corruption – perhaps the most elusive and resilient form of corruption. A third issue is the often symbolic nature of anti-corruption, which after initial attention and focus with time becomes vague and bland. A fourth issue is that anti-corruption responses may themselves increase bureaucracy; indeed, organizations may even become less resilient and flexible due to anti-corruption measures. For instance, in some organizations, employees have had to devise tricks and break rules to promote organizational goods.
Hence, in line with the general call for papers for this conference, the dominant interpretation of resilience involves rather rigid understandings of and responses to corruption. But are there more flexible ways to deal with the issue? Can one create vague anti-corruption rules and rather rely on the common sense of organizational members? Can judgment and autonomy become the base of anti-corruption rather than standards and rules?
In this subtheme, we aim to discuss the development and implications of organizational resilience to corruption, both theoretically and empirically. We also want to discuss how the apparent resilience of corruption as a phenomenon impact organizations and their practices. Corruption is in itself "in the interstices" and we encourage theoretical engagement drawing on knowledge from different fields. We also encourage a wide range of empirical and geographical loci for studying corruption, especially empirical studies from Latin America, to subvert the Western-centric dominance of academic discussions.
We would welcome papers which:
Explore the resilience of both of corruption and of anti-corruption practices in various empirical contexts and cultures
Describe and explain resilience both of corruption and of anti-corruption theoretically
Explore effective and less effective ways of creating organizational resilience against corruption
Organizations responses and their discontents: hypocrisy, window-dressing, lack of enforcement, contradictory standards, absurdity
Power relations in anti-corruption, the interplay within the organizational hierarchy as well as between core and periphery
Individual and group responses to organization wide forms of anti-corruption
Recovering after a corruption scandal: the Big Bang and beyond
Dealing with the uncertainty of potential corruption: the underlying threat in everyday organizational life
The grand and the petty - is anti-corruption not ambitious enough?
The semiology of corruption, both in countries/regions and organizations
Empirical studies which have attempted to create innovative ways to study corruption or anti-corruption outcomes
Case studies of successful anti-corruption organizations (i.e. CICIG in Guatemala) or successful organizational efforts to tackle the resilience of corruption