Corruption sucks the vitality out of an economy by placing formidable obstacles to business formation and operation. Procedural obstacles are small when compared to the overwhelming uncertainty bred by corruption. When one is pondering the imponderables of corruption and commerce, the outcome of the ponderments is always negative. Barriers to commercial operations are an overt threat to capital and impair management’s ability to deploy capital to its most efficacious ends.
Governments and professional communities of many nations have made express statements about dealing with corruption. These statements have been followed by deeds, small deeds ‐‐ but real progress. These commitments need to be honored, encouraged, and expanded ‐‐ they do not need to be preached by the high and mighty (which seems to be a particular problem with professionals from the US, Canada and the EU). The BA bribery scandal in the EU does nothing toward making the first world a role model for the world (other than the size and quality of the bribes).
While working with professionals in other countries it is always important to do two things (and avoid a third). The first is to honor your word. That means no empty promises, only promise what you will do ‐‐ and do what you promise. The second is to ask, as authentically as possible, what mistakes others have made in these efforts. The local professionals know, live, and breath the culture ‐‐ ask them to help and they will. Never take the approach “this is how we do it in my country”. It’s not your county. It’s theirs, and they don’t care to listen to another condescending foreigner. Don’t assume you can adapt
a model from your country. Take the incentives out of your model, and work with the local professional community to put those incentives into a locally designed model. What gets incentivized gets done, and it is more likely to get done within a familiar business model.
Addressing corruption is about addressing incentives and the local populations view of their legal culture (if one indeed exists) and property rights.
People choose who they want to work with based upon relationships, not by merit alone. By visiting with local professionals you’ll have a better chance to develop relationships. With hope and diligence, these relationships will help provide an opportunity for the foreign anti‐corruption experts to do well and do good at the same time.
If you offer or accept emoluments, you perpetuate the corruption.