Bribery and Business

Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics (2021)
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The concept of bribery is important to our thinking about ethics, especially in professional contexts. This is in no small part due to the thought that, as Seamus Miller has put it, bribery is “a paradigm of corruption”. Business persons and corporate entities are often evaluated by how well they remain free from, root out, and punish corruption – especially in democratic societies. It is a common thought, for example, that a democratic institution ought to be free from corruption. Since bribery is often thought a form – perhaps the paradigmatic form – of corruption, bribery, too, serves as a central concept in our evaluations of business persons and corporate entities. This article will lay out three common elements which together are characteristics of bribery (payment, intention, and wrongdoing), and then briefly illustrate how this conjunction of elements allows for distinguishing between bribery and two other questionable acts often examined in the context of business (grease payment and extortion).

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J. Drake
Creighton University


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