Monday, May 23, 2011

Corruption schmorruption

We don't take bribes, for the wrong price.
Poland is a hotbed of corruption where bribes and backhanders are the only way to do business. Oligarchs and tycoons, all of whom stole their first million, have bought off everyone of significance and thus an honest man or woman is doomed to fail. Or so goes the conventional wisdom, especially among Poles of a conservative-populist streak. Well, I've got news: fewer Poles say bribes are needed to get business done than is the average for Europe.

Ernst and Young's annual European Fraud Survey 2011 found that 25% of Poles at companies say a bribe is a universally accepted method of doing business. The average for Europe is 28%. Moreover, some 40% of Europeans say the troubled economic times of the past few years has increase corruption. Only 33% of Poles say the same.

I don't mean to downplay corruption, though. Some 74% of Poles say corrupt practices are common, below the 81% score for developing markets but well above the 62% average for Europe and the 46% average for developed economies.

Poland clearly has some way to go to match developed market standards. Or if you'd rather believe Poland is very corrupt, please send EUR 500 to my Swiss bank account. Or better yet: wire it to Jaroslaw Kaczynski's new account and call the Anti-Corruption Bureau.


  1. I've heard Italian contractors often get a rude awakening when their bribes get turned down in Poland.

  2. It all depends on what is meant by corruption.

    If I pay to win a sealed tender, I say it's business as usual and a marketing incentive practice. I can show that definition on my company's income summary (for which I will pay less tax). My unsuccessful competitors will say I bribed the judge and I am guilty of corruption.

    Now, if my incentive is unsuccessful, I still get to market it off of earned revenue but then I agree that the issuer of the tender is corrupt....

    IMHO, the real problem with "corruption" in business does not rest so much on individual greed, although accepting an envelope of cash in gratitude from a supplier an be lumped into that definition even if the receiver is under paid and in need of the cash, so much as it stems from the lack of any clear "business criteria" or priority with Poles themselves.

    "I mean, why not give the job to my friend when sitting or standing it's 500 (PLN) a month?" Or, gentler terms, if someone were to give me a marketing incentive, it would be rude not to award their kindness. The saying is old but it is carried over in the application.

    It also answers why the Italians get their rude awakening.