Cost of Doing Business or Price of Integrity?

Here’s an interesting one that showed up in my mail today … From the Harvard Business Review Daily Stat, a summation of the effect on UK businesses of the laws prohibiting the payment of bribes in those regions that are corruption prone.

Here is the summary version … “After enactment of strict anti-bribery legislation in the UK a few years ago, sales of British firms in corruption-prone regions of the world grew 6 percentage points more slowly than those of comparable European firms, says Stefan Zeume of the University of Michigan. Moreover, UK companies operating in such regions displayed a drop in firm value after enactment of the law. Taken together, the findings suggest that bribes are indispensable for doing business in certain parts of the world, Zeume says.”

In it’s rawest form, the question being begged is whether our interests must be served at any cost or whether we are pleased to live with a heart of integrity. Is it right for those who have few scruples to succeed or should those who chose a path of integrity be the ones who are successful? There is discussion, even in today’s news about the legitimacy of the SuperPacs through which tens of millions of dollars are raised to influence a presidential election. Are we simply buying influence to achieve goals that are beneficial to our own interests or are we getting business done in the most expeditious method possible?

Our friend, King David, wrote often of these things in the Psalms. He challenged God as to why the wicked should prosper. He admitted in Psalm 73, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Woah! He had to catch himself because he was jealous of the Joneses who had attained their wealth through bad behavior. The prophet Jeremiah told God that he wanted to talk with Him about His form of justice. He goes on, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” So in the case of the University of Michigan paper, a similar question is asked, why does the UK enforce anti-bribery laws against me, as I watch those who are beyond the reach of those laws increase their net values gaining the business I can no longer pursue?

The Proverbs say “A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the cause of justice.” (17:23) It is interesting to me the path of bribery is an ancient path. Even the author of the UofM paper acknowledged the difficulty in finding real data on this problem because most of the under the table payments were unrecorded so that they couldn’t be tracked.

One of the classic examples of standing up for what one believes is right is Chick-fil-A’s model of closing on Sunday. Sunday is a day when many families go out to eat. Yet, Truett Cathy determined that he and his business would follow God’s command to keep the Sabbath day holy by closing and giving the employees a day of rest. So where is your line of integrity? Some of our systems still encourage a “bribery” approach to life. Giving the matre D’ a twenty dollar bill to ensure that we get the table with the view, paying service workers in cash so that they don’t have to claim it on their income taxes, the list goes on.

Job 36:18 says, “don’t let a large bribe turn you aside.” We should not be able to be bought. The other side of that instruction is that we should not be putting others into that decision predicament. Don’t be tempting someone to subvert their conscience because you offer them a “reward.” I’ve only mentioned a few things here. I’m sure you can come up with many more. Our society is heavily influenced by the power of wealth.  Where is your treasure?

Can you say with David, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, … Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you … Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me it is good to be near God.” Go to bed tonight with a clean conscience, give up trying to control the world around you. That’s really what this is all about, isn’t it?

Just a few things to think about.

About ponderosapapa

Papa to five grandchildren, Dad to two daughters and two sons-in-law, Husband of one wife. Leaving a legacy of thought and perspective worth carrying through the generations that follow.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Leadership, Perspective, Truth and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cost of Doing Business or Price of Integrity?

  1. Gene Mills says:

    Unfortunately some of the worst offenders (those willing to ‘give up’ their integrity) are the very people who ‘believe’ they are trying to rid the world of such behavior- specifically our elected officials!


  2. Excellent point. We must give up trying to control the world around us.


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