Wednesday, 17 March 2010

'The unpredictable character of administrative procedures..'

This interview with a professional corruption investigator at the not-for-profit TRACE cites a study which offers some interesting international distinctions:
In China, it describes corruption as an "inverted pyramid," with most bribery at the top while India is the opposite, with corruption rampant at lower levels but tapering off higher up.
"Russia is a solid block. There is bribery at all levels," Wrage said. "There appears to be sense of near-complete impunity, a sense of entitlement ... there is no sympathetic low level management, no sympathetic mid-level management, or sympathy at the top (for anti-bribery efforts)."

I've done lots of business in Russia, a fair bit in China and I'm friendly with a few Indians and what she says rings true to me. Also the character of corruption in Russia is a little more pungent - it doesn't merely involve paying a bribe to get a contract:
Wrage recalled a question at her first workshop in Moscow in 2002 which underlined the unique dangers of Russian corruption:
"Somebody came up to me in the break and said: 'If I don't pay the bribes here, I am really worried that my office will be burned to the ground.'"
Her reply? "Well, I have nothing to give you. I don't have any best practice tips to help with that scenario."

She's obviously got a good line in dry humour (probably a useful attribute in this field). She doesn't mix her words either:
"My recommendation is: 'Maybe you should reconsider doing business in Russia,'" she said. "I am considerably more optimistic about Nigeria than I am about Russia on this issue."

This is in contrast to Ikea's wonderfully euphemistic reason for halting their Russian expansion. It's all because of "the unpredictable character of administrative procedures in some regions." I guess they just can't plan on this basis: for instance, will it be your office or your home that gets burnt down? If only these guys could get organised...


inkspot said...

Thanks for this Gaw, I hadn't realized that corruption has a geometry. Ikea doesn't, their stuff is merely functional, that's why they can't cope with Russia.

Gaw said...

Whilst no fan of Ikea's, I can't blame them. Life's too short (not to mention, valuable) to persevere over there.