Corruption and development: New initiatives in economic openness and strengthened rule of law [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 59 (1-2):121 - 138 (2005)
Abstract
Corruption is a major problem in many of the world’s developing economies today. World Bank studies put bribery at over $1 trillion per year accounting for up to 12 of the GDP of nations like Nigeria, Kenya and Venezuela. Though largely ignored for many years, interest in world wide corruption has been rekindled by recent corporate scandals in the US and Europe. Corruption in the developing nations is said to result from a number of factors. Mass poverty has been cited as a facilitating condition for corruption just as an inability to manage a sudden upsurge in mineral revenues has been credited with breeding corruption and adventurous government procurement among public officials in countries like Nigeria and Venezuela. Virtually all developing nations that have serious corruption problems also have very limited economic freedom and a very weak enforcement of the rule of law. In such nations, corruption represents a regressive taxation that bears hard on the poor. It has a dampening effect on development and it could result in the production of inferior goods as companies find ways to accommodate under-the-table payments. Finally, corruption is a dangerous threat to the legitimacy of the governments of some of the developing nations themselves. It is suggested that new urgent initiatives are needed to deal with the dangers posed by corruption in the developing economies. They include making the economies of these nations more open by the withdrawal of the government from the productive sector and by the abolition of unnecessarily stringent restrictions on business conduct. The rule of law needs to be strengthened in these nations and those countries like Nigeria and Venezuela should ignore scruples over sovereignty and seek foreign assistance in the management of their oil wealth. Finally, multinationals should be made to disclose all the payments they make in developing nations to such organizations like International Chamber of Commerce or Transparency International where they can be reviewed by anyone interested.
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