Although corruption is widespread in most countries of the world, nonetheless, the level of corruption in some of the countries is extremely high in comparison with others. In the majority of public institutions, corruption is widespread due to bureaucracy and politics (Osipian, n.d, p.35). According to the World Bank Group, corruption is defined as ‘the abuse of public office for private gain’ (World Bank, 2001). Although corruption affects a country’s economic development, the ensuing effect shall be determined by the nation’s prevailing economic conditions. There are various types of corruption. For example, when an individual gives a bribe in exchange for services at a public office whose officers are mandated to give the same for free as part of their job description this amounts to corruption. Another form of corruption is where an individual offers a bribe in a public office so that he cannot follow the process or policies for private gain such as a profit. In addition, patronage and nepotism in a public office are also termed corruption. Moreover, using public revenues in other sectors where they were not supposed to be used or theft of public assets is considered corruption as well. Other than in public offices, corruption is also found in the private sector. In most cases, corruption is influenced by the countries policies, political development, and also the history of the social factors of a country. In the private sector, corruption can be controlled by the country improving its business ethics and culture.
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On the basis of the foregoing arguments, one realizes that whereas we have countries or governments that are very corrupt, on the other hand, others are regarded as least corrupt. Accordingly, the paper shall attempt to compare the most and the least corrupt countries and the trends in these countries as far as issues of corruption are concerned. Factors that influence business culture and ethics and major ethical problems in the least ethical countries are also addressed. The paper also discusses the actions or issues that favor the most ethical countries and the possible ways to lessen corruption. Finally, a discussion on how Kenya compares to the least and most ethical countries is explored.
Comparison between the most and the least corrupt countries
According to the corruption perceptions index (CPI) 2009 (Transparency international, 2009, para.7), the least corrupt countries are New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Iceland respectively. On the other hand, the ten most corrupt countries are Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq, Chad, Uzbekistan, Iran, Haiti and Guinea. Most of the corrupt countries are developing countries while the least corrupt countries are the developed countries. In addition, the most corrupt countries are those that experience political instability like Somalia and Afghanistan while the least corrupt countries experience political stability such as Denmark and New Zealand. However, according to the (CPI) 2009, all countries in all continents are affected by corruption in their economic development but the effect depends on the country’s conditions.
Trends in corruption
In Somalia, corruption is seen as inevitable. It is mostly experienced in government institutions. Government officials and the security forces do not serve the public as required. In addition, at the border, members of the public are charged by much internal security personnel when leaving the country and they also pay false charges when returning to Somalia (Global integrity commons,2009, para 9). In Somalia, the media does not report corruption in government sectors because everything done by the government is not revealed but remains a secret. Journalists who try to reveal cases of corruption involving government officials are arrested, tortured, or killed for unexplained reasons. In Afghanistan, the government does not deliver the basics of life such as food, security, and shelter to its citizens. In addition, there is a lot of discrimination against women and the poor. The poor are not involved in decision making especially in major issues that impact them directly. There is a lot of nepotism as Boehner (2006, para. 14) reports. On the other hand, Denmark and New Zealand are ranked among the least corrupt countries. This means that the countries are ethical and this is evident in their civil and political rights. Furthermore, the two countries have the largest number of women in parliament. In general, in the least corrupt countries, there is transparency among public officials and politicians.
Differences between Somalia and Afghanistan (most corrupt countries) and Denmark New Zealand (least corrupt countries)
The most corrupt countries experience wars and hence they are not economically developed. However, in the least corrupt countries, there is political stability and they are economically developed. Therefore, it is evident that corruption affects the economic growth and development of a country.
In the least corrupt countries, they have good business ethics. They are among the leading international exporters. In these countries, there is an increased inflow of foreign direct investment. This has been largely influenced by their culture of honesty. On the other hand, in the most corrupt countries (for example, Somalia); they export illegal charcoal which is mostly done by government officials. In Somalia, inflows from direct foreign investment are low because few foreigners are willing to invest in these countries due to high levels of insecurity. These countries have a culture of insecurity and a high rate of corruption hence have low economic development (Velasquez, 2001, p.8).
Ethical problems of Somalia and Afghanistan
Discrimination against the poor and women is one of the problems in these countries. This is because women are not given the chance to be in parliament and to hold other high positions in society. This affects the country economically because it lowers its level of production. In these countries, wars have led to a decrease in population due to people migrating to other countries as refugees while others are killed. In addition, due to a lack of transparency among politicians and public officials, has caused the public to lose confidence in the government.
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In the least corrupt countries, all human beings are respected and their rights are also respected. This makes them feel protected and hence they increase their rate of production. In addition, these countries have the largest percentage of women in parliament and other sectors (United Nations ESCAP, 1984, para 4). Women are known to be good managers and this has boosted their motivation and self-esteem and caused them to be more productive. However, transparency in government institutions has led to an increase in the inflow of direct foreign investment. Peace and political stability have contributed to economic growth and development.
How to lessen corrupt and unethical behavior
According to the World Bank Group, in the private sector, bribery and fraud can be controlled by “strengthening the legal framework to support an economy” (World Bank, 2001). In addition, corruption in private sectors can be reduced if only governments are able to encourage the growth of professional groups that would set standards in various sectors such as accounting and auditing. This will ensure that public funds are well accounted for and are used appropriately (Rosenbaum, 2006, para 17). The other way of lessening corruption and unethical issues in countries is the introduction of anti-bribery laws. Those who bribe (break the anti-bribery laws) should be prosecuted in a court of law. In addition, the public should be sensitized not to bribe and they should know that they have a right to be served free of charge in any public office (United Nations Global Compact, 2004, para 14). Also, they should be given an obligation to report any case of corruption in these offices.
Moreover, maintaining a democratic government is also a form of reducing corruption in a country. This is because having a fair democratic government means that elections are conducted fairly and there should be political accountability. In addition, in a democratic country, the judicial system is transparent, and basic human rights are respected (World Bank, 2001). Furthermore, another factor that helps to eradicate corruption and unethical behaviors in a country is the dispersion of political powers. This means sharing of powers between various governors. Those who exercise this power should be accountable.
Kenya is ranked among the most corrupt countries because bribery in public offices is very high (Transparency international, 2009, para. 7). In addition, there is a lot of nepotism in public offices. The other form of corruption that is widely spread in Kenya is the misappropriation of public funds and misuse of public assets. The establishment of professional bodies to set standards in accounting and auditing has helped to reduce mismanagement of public funds (United Nations development program, n.d, para 12). On the other hand, this country compares with the least corrupted countries in that there is peace and no discrimination. Furthermore, human rights are respected.
Somalia and Afghanistan are ranked as the most corrupt countries in the world while New Zealand and Denmark are the least corrupt countries. Corruption in these countries has affected their economy negatively. This is because of bribery in public offices and lack of respect for human rights. Discrimination against women and the poor as a form of corruption has led to a decline in the growth of the economy. Lack of peace and political instability in these countries has hindered foreign investors from investing in these countries hence they have low inflows of (DFI) direct foreign investment.
The least corrupt countries are among the international exporters. They have a high number of women in parliament and also respect the human rights of their citizens. These countries experience a high inflow from direct foreign investments. This is mostly influenced by transparency in government institutions and also political stability. In these countries there is increased employment and also the infrastructure is developed for example in New Zealand internet is in every home.
Due to the negative effects of corruption and unethical behaviors on a country’s economy, governments should try to lessen it. This can be done by dispersing powers and those excising these powers should be accountable. Establishing a democratic government, introducing anti-corruption laws, and sensitizing the public on their rights help to reduce corruption in a country. In addition, professional bodies that will set standards or rules to be followed by all the accountants and auditors to ensure all the accounts are well balanced should be established.
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