In “A View from the Top: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Corrupt World,” the third in a series of round table discussions on Accountability and Governance organized by the Harvard Business School’s India Research Center and the Harvard University South Asia Institute, Paul Healy, James R. Williston Professor and Associate Dean for Research at Harvard Business School used the 2006 exposure of widespread corruption in Siemens to illustrate the risks of corruption, and their surprising potential effects on bottom-line profit. Corruption within multinational corporations is a generally acknowledged, and thus too often dismissed, part of doing business in countries that are themselves renowned for corruption in business and government. However, bribery and other unethical practices have been seen to have a negative impact on bottom-line profits in the long term, as they detract from brand image and lower the corporation’s incentive to improve on low-performing products or sectors. The 15 participants discussed how to navigate the grey areas of “speed money” and “honest corruption,” and how much impact the integrity of senior leaders can have on moral disengagement. They concluded that through a variety of processes, including both internal and external policing as well as a greater internal focus on compliance, MNCs can make major strides in eradicating corruption within their organizations.
Written by Elizabeth Paisner, The Mahindra Group