What is corruption corrupting? A philosophical viewpoint

Published date05 January 2010
Date05 January 2010
AuthorMichel Dion
Subject MatterAccounting & finance
What is corruption corrupting?
A philosophical viewpoint
Michel Dion
´d’administration, Universite
´de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to see to what extent philosophers (from Plato to Rousseau)
have described the phenomenon of corruption in a way that is relevant for corrupt practices in
globalized markets.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper analyzes five levelsof corruption from a philosophical
viewpoint:corruption of principles(“ontic/spiritual/axiological corruption”),corruption of moralbehavior
(“moralcorruption”), corruption of people(“social corruption”),corruption of organizations (“institutional
corruption”),and corruption of states (“national/societal/cultural corruption”).
Findings The paper finds that actual forms of corruption are basically grounded in prior
phenomena of corruption, whether it is the corruption of principles, the corruption of moral behavior,
the corruption of people, the corruption of organizations, or the corruption of states. In each case,
philosophers have described the deep and broad effects of corruption. Their criticism is quite close to
the way the social impact of corruption is presently circumscribed.
Originality/value – The paper addresses the issue of corruption in a philosophical way, and then
tends to enhance the social relevance of philosophical discourse when dealing with corrupt practices.
Keywords Corruption, Philosophy, Internationalmarketing
Paper type Conceptual paper
Waldman (1974) defined corruption as including the following components:
(1) a public official, (2) who misuses his authority, position, or power, and as a result,
(3) violates some existing, legal norm in his or her particular country. The corrupt act
is (4) usually done in secret and (5) is for personal gain in wealth or status or in preferment
of family, friends, ethnic or religious groups. In collusive forms of corruption, (6) an outside
party is involved (e.g. foreign businessmen).
However, it is self-evident that the main agent of corruption is not always a public
official. The phenomenon of corruption implies three possible combinations of actors:
public (corrupt agent)-private (corrupting agent), private (corrupt)-private (corrupting),
public (corrupt)-public (corrupting). That is why most of authors focus on the act of
corruption itself rather than the agents who are involved in this phenomenon. Budima
(2006, p. 410) defines corruption simply as “a private gain at public expenses”.
Okogbule (2006, p. 102) mentioned that the public sector often creates the opportunities
for public officers to be involved in corrupt activities, so that we should never consider
corruption only from the perspective of public officials. Moreover, Okogbule (2006,
p. 94) said that most of definitions of corruption converge on one point: corruption is:
[...] a device or strategy usually employed to sway people away from the right course of
action, duty or conduct either in the performance of their official duties or in activities relating
to economic or political matters.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
What is
Journal of Money Laundering Control
Vol. 13 No. 1, 2010
pp. 45-54
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/13685201011010209

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT