The word “corruption” conjures up images of back room deals between selfish government officials and opportunistic businesspeople, both looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. Certainly, such high-level crimes create poverty, death and outrage.
Much ongoing corruption is virtually invisible but, like the “death of a thousand cuts,” can leave any organization crippled and dying. Insidious forms of corruption may not even involve money, but can nonetheless cause big problems that may lead to criminal matters if not properly identified and corrected.
The full definition of “corruption” extends beyond bribery and embezzlement to encompass the idea of decay. Software programs, food items and society itself undergoes decay. The word comes from concepts of rot; breakage; making something less than what it was intended to be.
Some of the ideas that flow from corruption as decay can be addressed through effective management policies. Effective management policies are the key to fighting administrative corruption and can help reduce criminal forms of corruption.
For example, many government organizations are unclear about what they are supposed to produce. Indeed, many will resist the idea that the government is supposed to provide anything of measurable value in exchange for the tax dollars they spend. Any organization that fails to understand what it produces, and fails to align its policies toward its products, will decay. It becomes corrupted.
If that organization is part of a government, the government itself begins to decay and lose relevance.
There are logical approaches that can be taken to root out and prevent corruption in any organization – including government institutions.
In our White Paper: New Tools for Fighting Corruption in Organizations, we address eight (8) critical points that combat administrative corruption.
It may seem obvious, but surprisingly often people are unaware of government or corporate policies. Indeed, sometimes they have been misinformed about the policy by someone who simply doesn’t know.
Policy makers in organizations must not only issue policy, but must set in place programs to assure that policies are known and easily available for review.
An international corporation had well established polices regarding the hiring of local staff. Included among those was a policy of encouraging its local staff to apply for positions that were appropriate for their skills and offered opportunities for professional advancement. However, due to the rapid staffing on one of its projects, its human resources staff and project management was unaware of these policies and where to find them. Instead of inquiring about the appropriate policies, they operated on the basis of what they thought was reasonable. The staff and management developed an unauthorized policy of refusing to allow “local staff” to apply for other positions once they already had a job. “It would cause too much trouble for us.”
The employees immediately identified the injustice and began to treat the project leadership with suspicion and distrust. This also resulted in a loss of productivity as the staff concluded that the project management sought to “hold them down.”
Many additional negative results flowed from this simple problem. The lack of a policy education program left managers in the position of ignorantly applying incorrect policy.
The remedy is easy to understand: Executive managers must continuously ensure that policy is known and followed if they want their people to understand their jobs and the operations of the institution. A commitment to training Managers and Employees on policy builds trust and a sense of justice in the organization.