Self-Interest and Altruism in the Deterrence of Transnational Bribery

56 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2000

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 1999


This article is concerned with explaining why states in which bribe-payers are located (?payor states?) criminalize transnational bribery. Some analysts have claimed that these initiatives are either examples of altruistic behaviour on the part of payor states or reflect economic interdependence between payor states and the states over which officials who receive bribes have jurisdiction (?payee states?). This article offers an alternative explanation namely, that those initiatives are methods by which payor states self-interestedly attempt to improve the terms upon which their nationals obtain the services of foreign public officials. After describing in a general way the forms of transnational bribery that payor states have an interest in deterring, the article examines several recent anti-bribery initiatives for evidence that they have been motivated by self-interest as opposed to altruism. Although the legislation in question is not patently designed to further economic interests it is more likely to be enforced in cases in which firms would find it advantageous in economic terms to be deterred from paying bribes than in other cases. Consequently, the existence of anti-bribery legislation in payor states is consistent with the hypothesis that payor states deter transnational bribery for self-interested reasons.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E., Self-Interest and Altruism in the Deterrence of Transnational Bribery (December 1999). USC Law School, Olin Working Paper No. 99-22. Available at SSRN: or

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

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