The side effects of disguised bribes are hidden by their apparent good consequences (as pseudo-gifts). The aim of the chapter is to unveil to what extent pseudo-gifts (as disguised bribes) could distort the cultural, social, and communicational functions of gift-giving practices. We will firstly describe how disguised bribes could be analyzed from a Sartrean perspective, given that Sartre’s notion of bad faith could help to better understand the three basic kinds of substantive loss which follow from disguised bribes: (a) the loss of commonalities (the cultural function of gift-giving as distorted by disguised bribes: Malinowski’s notion of culture): we will analyze the phenomenon of guanxi; (b) the loss of social bonds (the social function of gift-giving as distorted by disguised bribes: Durkheim’s notion of culture); (c) the loss of communicability, and the arising of an empty truth (the communicational function of gift-giving as distorted by disguised bribes: Jaspers’ notion of truth claims). Gift-giving practices are culturally rooted. This is the first level of analysis (surface). Seizing the social and moral function of gift-giving practices unveils the second level of analysis (beneath-the-surface). Describing the communicational function of gift-giving practices opens the door to the third level of analysis (exchanges of truth claims). Bribery is the distortion of those basic functions of gift-giving practices. We are then facing an empty truth (the communicational function of culture is distorted).
Any concept of disguised bribes must be empirically tested. The way the cultural, social and communication functions of gift-giving practices are distorted could vary from one culture to another. Future research could check how such distortions arise in given societal cultures. It could then distinguish the side effects of disguised bribes, either from a cultural viewpoint, or from social perspective, or even from a communicational pattern of reference. Unveiling the multiple ways of distorting gift-giving practices could help decision-makers to better understand the frontiers between bribery and gift-giving. Emphasizing the various functions of gift-giving practices, from a philosophical and sociological perspective, could allow business decision-makers to raise their ethical awareness.
Dion, M. (2017), "The Impact of Disguised Bribes – Distorting the Basic Functions of Gift-Giving Practices", Aßländer, M.S. and Hudson, S. (Ed.) The Handbook of Business and Corruption, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 71-93. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78635-445-720161005
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