Compliance Through Company Culture and Values: An International Study Based on the Example of Corruption Prevention

Journal of Business Ethics 157 (3):797-811 (2019)
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The aim of this Web-based survey of 15 German companies with an international profile was to identify which higher-level values serve as a basis for a company culture that promotes integrity and can thereby also be used to promote crime prevention. Results on about 2000 managers in German parent companies and almost 600 managers in Central and North European branch offices show that a major preventive role can be assigned to a company culture that promotes integrity. This requires a ‘tone from the top’, ‘ethical leadership’ from the direct superior, and a general set of values that can be encouraged through training courses. Moreover, employees have to perceive these values as promoting their careers. The survey reveals that the companies in this study have basically succeeded in establishing their system of values in their Central and North European as well as their Asian branch offices. Moreover, it shows that the main values preventing crime on the management level are trustworthiness and consistency. Open communication is an important value on all levels of a company, and this is supplemented by transparency, compliance with the rules, and a rejection of behaving in one’s own interest. It is concluded that in spite of regional differences, major international companies can possibly make an important contribution to bringing about cultural change in regions with an affinity for corruption by implementing a culture that promotes integrity in both their company and their daily business.



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