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Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments
Connecting the Dots from a Comparative Perspective


  • Author: Shaomin Li, Old Dominion University, Virginia
  • Date Published: March 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108730051
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About the Authors
  • Drawing on twenty years of research and observations, Li explains how bribery and corruption are carried out in countries with weak institutional environments, and how these activities become globalized. By distinguishing rule-based, relation-based and clan-based governance, this book offers a novel explanation to the age-old puzzle of why some countries thrive despite corruption. It also sheds lights on the symbiotic roles corruption and anticorruption campaigns play in maintaining dictatorships. Applying cost-benefit analysis to different governance environments, Li argues that as non-rule-based economies expand, the transition from relying on private relationships to relying on public rules is inevitable. However, by highlighting the globalization of corruption by non-rule-based countries, this book warns against the potential threats and consequences of bribery by powerful dictatorial governments. This book will appeal to scholars, analysts and graduate students studying corruption, as well as policymakers, business professionals and executives seeking insights into the characteristics of bribery and corruption within different institutional settings.

    • Introduces three types of governance environment: rule-based, relation-based, and clan-based, and how they interact with corruption to affect economic development
    • Offers a theoretical explanation on why some countries thrive despite rampant corruption
    • Calls attention to the potential threat of powerful countries attempting bribery and corruption on the global stage
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Professor Shaomin Li is a leading management scholar who pioneered the use of relation based vs. rule based institutional view of societies and its impact on corruption, bribery, and international business. Li brings his deep knowledge from sociology to show why, how and when bribery and corruption have a negative impact and offers policy suggestions for combating this. It is a must-read for students and scholars of business and economics as well as those interested to have a deep understanding of the phenomenon.' Ilan Alon, Universitetet i Agder, Norway

    'Shaomin Li is the world's leading expert on the governance system in weak institutional environments. In Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments, he provides an innovative and interesting explanations why bribery and corruption are prevalent in emerging markets and how they affect business, social, and political dynamics. This is a must-read for managers and researchers to understand the behaviors of fast-growing emerging market multinationals.' Sam Park, Willamette University, Oregon

    'In Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments, Shaomin Li advances an original theory that connects corruption and key institutional variables such as political competition, rule of law, and scope of government. His analysis of the different dynamics in rule-based and relation-based systems is both insightful and thought-provoking. Combining comparative empirical evidence, robust statistical analysis, and a lucid writing style, Li's book is a major contribution to the literature on corruption and its impact on economic activities.' Minxin Pei, author of China's Crony Capitalism

    'Using a comparative approach, Li provides a new and insightful analysis of why corruption flourishes in states with weak institutions, how different forms of corruption can differentially impact a state's economic development, and why corruption is widespread despite efforts to control it.' Andy Wedeman, Georgia State University

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    Customer reviews

    15th Jan 2022 by Chwillis

    Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments is a refreshing perspective on today's international business environment. Shaomin Li postulates that there is a general governmental change towards open democratic societies in our world. This positive viewpoint (i.e., that corruption will eventually decline as the world “develops”) is based upon the premise that strong institutions will lower transaction costs. I fully agree with this, and that the degree of corruption is greater in weak institutional environments however, the discussion regarding the Chinese party-state and their “globalization” of corruption concerns me in that his conclusion - that we are seeing long term development of a largely corruption-free society - is premature. History is full of stories of corruption, from the quid-pro-quo society of Hammurabi to modern democratic movements that lead to greater corruption exemplified by ex-president Jacob Zuma and the development of the “small mafia” in a somewhat unique but originally low corruption nation. While tend to place the blame for this phenomenon at the feet of the individual, perhaps the real villain is the institutions themselves that create the context for bribery. This is an excellent, thought-provoking work that has led me to question how bribery can develop, especially on a global level driven by one nation-state against others? A+ Strongly recommend this for all people interested in understanding how and why corruption happens, and what we can do to fight against it!

    20th Jan 2022 by Swils042

    Shaomin Li’s new book – Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments: Connecting the Dots from a Comparative Perspective – is an excellent investigation of the nature of contemporary corruption and its impact on society. Using an innovative framework focusing on rule-, relation-, and clan-based governance institutions, Li’s book helps to explain the importance of the character of governance environments in determining why some societies thrive despite high levels of bribery and corruption. Overall, Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments is well-written, impressively researched, and makes a significant contribution to our current understanding of how bribery and corruption impact business, government, and society around the world. I highly recommend this book for scholars, businesspeople, and policymakers interested in learning more about this complex and relevant topic.

    21st Jan 2022 by Mfarr002

    Li’s book, as you might gather from the title, addresses the issue of corruption in developing countries. More specifically, he develops an analytical framework for comparing different types of corruption and bribery in weaker institutional environments, and how this affects the countries in question (and by consequence, the rest of the world) at multiple economic levels. Li’s insights regarding rule versus relation-based societies, typologies of bribery, and anticorruption campaigns offer a more fine-grained perspective on a prevalent and consequential issue than has been available previously. For example, the book takes on questions such as why corruption has gotten worse in countries going through the process of democratization. The author, being Chinese, is also uniquely suited to address issues such as why China has thrived despite rampant corruption and why the authorities have been unable to quell the issue. The book’s strength is also its flaw although the writing is strong in an academic sense, the in-text citations and management-specific jargon may be off-putting to practitioners and scholars from other fields. That being said, this book is required reading for those who study international business, institutional theory, or related matters.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108730051
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.409kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: why study corruption in countries with weak institutional environments?
    2. Bribe takers: types of corruption and their effects on efficiency
    3. Bribe payers: why do people pay? What do they get? Can they refuse to pay?
    4. When public rules meet private relations: the importance of governance environment
    5. Why some societies thrive despite corruption: a relation-based explanation
    6. Corruption and anticorruption: two legs supporting dictatorships
    7. Paths to transition away from corruption
    8. The globalization of corruption by countries with weak institutional environments
    9. Conclusion: challenges and hopes in fighting corruption globally

  • Author

    Shaomin Li, Old Dominion University, Virginia
    Shaomin Li is Eminent Scholar and Professor of International Business at Old Dominion University, Virginia. He has published in the Journal of International Business Studies, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. In 2008 the Governor of Virginia presented him the Outstanding Faculty Award.

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