Multi-Nationals and Corruption Systems: The Case of Siemens

Scholars tend to agree and evidence has shown that domestic businesses adapt to the local type of corruption, but little is known whether large multinational corporations also adapt to the local forms of corruption. Institutionalist theories of corruption and of international political economy would suggest that this would be the case, but the hypothesis has not, to our knowledge, been systematically tested. This paper, drawing on investigative materials about the activities of one such multinational, the German corporation Siemens AG, examines how it used corruption and bribery to advance its business around the world. We extrapolate from the logic of four “syndromes of corruption”, as Michael Johnston terms them, to develop specific hypotheses about the kind of behavior multinational corporations would be expected to exhibit when doing business in each of the four kinds of syndromes. We examine and compare Siemens’ activities in the United States, Italy, Russia and China. We find that Siemens did adapt to the local corruption form (or “syndrome”) and used, among others, different types of intermediaries to approach the local elites. The evidence from these case studies supports the institutionalist argument that multinationals distinguish between corrupt environments and further supports the argument that there exist different types, or syndromes, of corruption.

Multi-Nationals and Corruption Systems: The Case of Siemens

Scholars tend to agree and evidence has shown that domestic businesses adapt to the local type of corruption, but little is known whether large multinational corporations also adapt to the local forms of corruption. Institutionalist theories of corruption and of international political economy would suggest that this would be the case, but the hypothesis has not, to our knowledge, been systematically tested. This paper, drawing on investigative materials about the activities of one such multinational, the German corporation Siemens AG, examines how it used corruption and bribery to advance its business around the world. We extrapolate from the logic of four “syndromes of corruption”, as Michael Johnston terms them, to develop specific hypotheses about the kind of behavior multinational corporations would be expected to exhibit when doing business in each of the four kinds of syndromes. We examine and compare Siemens’ activities in the United States, Italy, Russia and China. We find that Siemens did adapt to the local corruption form (or “syndrome”) and used, among others, different types of intermediaries to approach the local elites. The evidence from these case studies supports the institutionalist argument that multinationals distinguish between corrupt environments and further supports the argument that there exist different types, or syndromes, of corruption.

Transcrime

Transcrime is the Joint Research Centre on Transnational Crime of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano and the Università degli Studi di Trento. The center, directed by Ernesto Ugo Savona, professor of criminology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, has offices in Milan and Trento and has a staff of more than 20 people, made up of academic researchers, contract researchers, Ph.D. candidates, interns and administrative personnel. Transcrime is exclusively funded by contracts and funding from private corporations and local, national and international public institutions.

Transcrime employs an integrated approach (criminology, law, economics, statistics, sociology, forensic accounting) and performs applied research to:

  • Analysis of criminal phenomena (organised crime, economic crime, money laundering, illegal markets, urban crime);
  • Evaluation of crime prevention policies;
  • Analysis and identification of criminogenic opportunities in legislation (crime proofing analysis);
  • Development of risk assessment models and crime prevention strategies for public (e.g. law enforcement, public entities) and private actors (e.g. banks, professionals, companies).

Since its establishment, Transcrime has carried out more than 100 research projects. Most of these studies have been funded by national authorities, as well as European and international institutions. To enhance the implementation of its research projects, Transcrime together with Università Cattolica will soon give life to the academic spin-off Crime&Tech. It will be the point of contact between the needs of the business world and the long-standing experience of Transcrime in the field of criminological research.

Transcrime is a key supporting body of the education activities provided by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano. In particular, the center coordinates: the Master’s degree in Security Policy (Poli.Si)within the framework of the Master’s program in Political and Social Sciencies and the International Ph.D. in Criminology

Moreover, Transcrime provides high level training courses concerning various topics (anti-money-laundering, risk-assessment, crime statistic, etc.). These courses target professionals of the public sector (e.g. law enforcement agencies, officials, public authorities) and of the private sector (professionals of security and compliance, bank and company experts in anti-money-laundering).