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Corruption as a moral issue

Hartmut Kreikebaum (Professor at the European Business School, International University, Oestrich‐Winkel, Germany.)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




Corruptive behaviour penetrates the business process itself and permeates the mental attitude of decision makers on all hierarchy levels. This paper seeks to present the special legal situation in Germany as the regulatory environment for business transactions and to discuss the moral consequences of an “economy of greed”.


The moral aspects of corruption are treated from an institutional ethics viewpoint as well as an individual ethics perspective. Regarding the institutional aspects (compliance approach) reliance is placed on the empirical study of ethical conflicts of companies in Germany and the USA. The individual ethics perspective is derived from a Christian understanding of man's personal responsibility in society.


A compliance approach can only serve as a necessary first step to counteract fraud and corruption. To obtain a good corporate citizen status, a company should also develop an open dialogue with all stakeholders (integrity management approach).

Research limitations/implications

The concept of quasi‐regulation, which combines governmental legal aspects with a company‐wide good corporate citizen approach, offers a viable concept and needs further empirical research.

Practical implications

This paper proposes to restore the concept of an honourable entrepreneur. Decision makers should pursue personal authenticity, fairness, and mutual trust in their relations with others.


Preventing corporate corruption requires a new way of thinking based on a loyal attitude and the personal commitment of leaders.



Kreikebaum, H. (2008), "Corruption as a moral issue", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 4 No. 1/2, pp. 82-88.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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