Chinese and South Korean Views on Accepting Bribes: An Empirical Study
17 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 28, 2017
One might think that bribery is always unethical. Studies by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development discourage the practice and a number of other studies have viewed bribery in negative terms. However, a closer examination of the issue reveals that the question of whether bribery is ethical or unethical is not so clear-cut in some cases. For example, bribing a prison guard to release a political prisoner who is being held by a corrupt or evil regime might constitute an ethical act. From a utilitarian ethical perspective, bribery would be acceptable in cases where there are more winners than losers.
Another approach for determining ethical versus unethical bribery focuses on whether the recipient is a helping hand or greedy hand. Where the bribe goes to someone who facilitates commerce by cutting red tape or by performing a service for the bribe payer, some scholars have concluded that the bribe may be ethical. Those who merely take advantage of someone by abusing their authority have been viewed as acting unethically by soliciting a bribe.
This study examines and compares attitudes on the ethics of bribe taking in China and South Korea. The latest data from the World Values Survey was used to determine attitudes toward accepting a bribe in the two countries, and whether opinions in the two countries were significantly different. The sample sizes were 1907 for China and 1195 for South Korea. The study found that opposition to bribe taking was strong, but that the degree of opposition sometimes depended by demographic variables, such as gender, age, and social class.
Keywords: Bribe, Ethics, China, Korea, Gender, Age, Social Class, Demographic Variables
JEL Classification: D01, D23, D61, D63, N35, N45, N75, N85, O53, J1, J14, J16, K14, K42, M14, M4
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