Can collective action reduce corruption in Latin America?
Corrupt acts are condemned worldwide and unfortunately, corruption is a social plague in Latin America. Politicians and corporations are under constant public scrutiny. However, small acts, individual acts, are more tolerated. Why do we complain that our taxes are not being used wisely, when we take every possible chance to “minimize” our payments? Why is it socially acceptable to bribe a police officer, to pay at the border to move up the line and to inflate your expenses just by a little?
The Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International demonstrates (See Figure 1.), that corruption is widespread in the region. It is impossible to pinpoint what triggers it across the continent, but highly influential factors are organized crime and drug dealing. It is also hard to account due to weak and bureaucratic public institutions and at the individual level corruption is common and unperceived. Consequently, the regions development is slowed down exerting economic, social, political and environmental costs that can be reduced through rightful actions.
Figure 1. Corruption Perceptions Index 2013
Region of makers
On the other hand, Latin America was also described as “the region of makers” during the World Economic Forum. Latin America is a region of natural resources, and of young people, factors that combined are propelling growth. To take proper advantage of these conditions, it is absolutely necessary to do things “right” on the first try around. Doing things right includes delivering on time, using high quality standards, investing in human capital and applying ethical behavior at all times.
Learning ethics and values are taught mostly at home, then at school, then at the workplace and through real life lessons. However, acting rightfully is subjective. Therefore, many business schools have enforced ethics to create leaders who do things the right way. To contribute to tackle this socioeconomic problem, INCAE is working to create who act and promote ethical behavior. Through the MBA Oath Club, students are encouraged to promote the use of ethical standards in business and management through an oath. The values highlighted include: integrity, honor, truthfulness, sustainability and above all, accountability. Students are aware that by accepting the Oath, they are setting an example of integral behavior.
INCAE prepares leaders who are analytical, collaborative and culturally- savvy, and who advocate for transparency and accountability, promoting a healthy growth for Latin America. To date, there are 300 student members, who are about to join two generations of graduates who have committed to live the oath by example, changing Latin America, one positive, ethical action at a time.
Do you think these students will be the ones who pay their way out of their speeding ticket? Or act responsibly and pay for their mistake? Or better yet, drive carefully to avoid getting pulled over in the first place? It is the sum of these small, individual actions that makes society more transparent and efficient, generating progress for all. Through collective action, we need to include ethical behavior in the characteristics that favor, instead of hinder, growth for Latin America.
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