Year

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management and Marketing

Abstract

Over the past decade, the general public has been shocked by revelations of widespread corruption and malfeasance in international cricket and the Catholic Church, two institutions that had hitherto been respected and trusted. Even more shocking, we now know that corruption had been happening in these institutions for decades, and that senior administrators had for much of this time known about it. This thesis seeks to understand how and why the corruption was allowed to develop and grow, despite being known about by these administrators and other institutional stakeholders. Using an interpretive, processual approach involving grounded theory methods, this textual study was conducted on documents related to match-fixing in international cricket and child sexual abuse by clergy in the U.S. Catholic Church during the late 20th century. The thesis advances understanding of the phenomenon known as the ‘organization of corrupt individuals’ (OCI) – where subordinate employees or members, rather than senior managers or administrators, are the primary perpetrators of the corruption.

The thesis develops a theoretical model of the OCI phenomenon which suggests that a set of antecedent conditions influence the behaviour of perpetrators and organizational and institutional stakeholders over five stages of the phenomenon’s growth and decline. When perpetrators identify and begin to exploit opportunities to act corruptly, the response of stakeholders at each stage either enables or disables such corruption. The OCI progresses through stages of emergence, uncertainty and cover up which, if it eventually becomes unsustainable, results in a powerful intervention and scandal that damages the affected institution before efforts are made by key stakeholders to control the problem and restore its reputation. This model can be used by researchers and managers to understand the complex dynamics which embolden perpetrators to act corruptly and lead to organizational stakeholders, either unintentionally or intentionally, facilitating their corrupt behaviour.

The thesis demonstrates the value of an interpretive, processual methodological approach when exploring the dynamics of corruption development and the benefits of integrating some important extant theories in the diverse fields of organizational corruption, deviance, ethical management and governance, man-made disasters and secrecy and silence. Furthermore, it demonstrates the important role that stakeholders play in enabling and disabling individual corruption in organizations.

A significant outcome of this thesis is that it demonstrates that ethical management alone will not prevent OCI development in its early stages. To overcome this difficulty, the thesis argues that ethical research should be extended to examining prevention and mitigation strategies that governance bodies might use to identify and control potential forms of corruption by individuals in their organizations and institutions.

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