Signs of Corruption

Signs of corruption in an organization


Corruption is as old as man and is universal as it is tied to human conduct. It manifests itself in an environment where there are opportunities and lack of controls. It cuts across all human facets – economic, political, social and cultural. Whilst it has been in existence throughout all civilisations, it is only in the past two decades that serious attention has been paid to it. Whilst there is no universally accepted definition for corruption, the widely accepted version is that given by World Bank which defines it as “the abuse of public office for private gains”  and the other by Transparency International which defines it as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. In other words, corruption is abuse of trust. There have been many debates around causes of corruption. Some of these have led to questions like “Does poverty lead to corruption or corruption lead to poverty?”; “Do low salaries/wages encourage corruption”?; and  “Who are more prone to corruption? Men or Women?”.  In line with the 80/20 rule, corruption is usually perpetrated by a small number of people in the organisation or society but its consequences affect the majority. Being part of human conduct, everyone is prone to corruption; however, some are more prone than others depending on their environment.

 Why people engage in Corruption

  • Greed
  • Pressure to amass wealth in a short time
  • Unrealistic expectations from society
  • Competition
  • Unethical climate
  • Inefficient justice systems
  • To seek status in society
  • Equating happiness with wealth
  • Escape route from poor background and a channel of delinking self from poverty
  • High returns and low cost of corruption 

Signs of Corruption in Organizations 

  • Putting personal interest above business need e.g. purchasing unnecessary goods and services; insisting on dealing with only specific contractors/suppliers with no justifiable reason
  • Causing deliberate delays in delivery of service to customers
  • Unexplained wealth demonstrated in sudden change in lifestyle e.g. sudden purchase of fancy, expensive cars, luxury equipment, expensive holidays etc.
  • Peculiar work habits that go against general HR practices e.g. refusal to be transferred or to go on leave, working for very long hours, reporting to work overly early, leaving workplace late without justifiable reasons (consistently).
  • Unprofessional relationships with suppliers or contractors
  • Handing business conversations as if they are personal e.g. having a habit of speaking in low tones on phone/conversations or isolating oneself from other colleagues when handling certain transactions or having conversations with certain business partners
  • Initiating unnecessary purchases/travels
  • Presenting documents for authorization to the Supervisor/Authority at a time when they will not have enough time to scrutinize them
  • Senior officers handling junior tasks
  • Developing unhealthy interest in operations of other departments/sections

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