Too few people see the relationship between tipping and bribing and even fewer understand the difference. Consider this: Research has shown that in places where people tip heavily, bribes are more likely to exchange hands as well. In addition, Countries with higher rates of tipping behavior also tended to have higher rates of corruption.
New research shows that there’s actually a line between the socially acceptable act of tipping and the immoral act of bribing, according to Magnus Thor Torfason, an assistant professor in Harvard Business School’s Entrepreneurial Management Unit. Professor Torfaon’s basic thesis is “It is generally considered a good-natured pro-social thing to tip, but bribing is considered to be antisocial and negative,” Torfason says. “So this relationship between tipping and corruption is counter-intuitive in the United States.” The line between the two is both fuzzy and gray.
This is a complicated area with a lot of “gray” turf. There have been many attempts to legislate proper behavior around the world, with varying success rates. It sure would be nice if there was some sort of globally acceptable standard. But, until the various cultural norms around the world harmonize and until there is a mature and common body of Law, gray areas will remain. The business you work for probably does business all over the word, and we need to adapt to local customs and practices in order to successful and legally manage our business – all the while keeping out of trouble back home in the USA.
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