Russia is now ranked alongside Zimbabwe on the worldwide corruption index, despite the fact that the Russian authorities have been doing their best to tackle it. The Russian bribery ‘industry’ is worth some $300 billion per year and those who can be bought include several government officials.
The Russian economy is in much need of foreign investment, but the growing world of bribery is deterring international businesses from investing in Russia. Not only will they face the costs of building and running the business, but they are also likely to face substantial costs in trying to get the paperwork through, as IKEA found. Having said that they would never resort to bribery, IKEA had to pay $4 million for investment in local infrastructure and donate a further $1 million for local government projects just to get the 300+ permits they needed to begin construction. This then led to further bribes and a number of lawsuits. For some companies, the delays caused by not paying a bribe may actually cost more than the bribe itself.
The following webcast and articles look at the case of IKEA and the push by foreign businesses to avoid the clutches of Russian bribery.
Russian bribes culture hits international business BBC News (14/5/10)
Foreign firms pledge not to give bribes in Russia BBC News (21/4/10)
IKEA masters rules of Russian business The Moscow Times (14/5/10)
Russians are spending twice as much on bribes Prime Time Russia (13/5/10)
Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 Transparency International 2009
- Why is Russia in need of significant foreign investment? How would it help the economy?
- Can we classify IKEA (or any other company that uses bribery) as a risk-lover? Explain your answer.
- If a foreign firm wants to invest in Russia, which type of expansion do you think would be the easiest and the least open to bribery?
- IKEA began building without the necessary permits, but then ‘the bureaucrats took advantage of the situation’. Was IKEA operating under conditions of risk or uncertainty?
- In the article ‘IKEA masters rules of business’, Lennart Dahlgren said: “If we had waited to receive them all, we would have lost years”. What economic concept is being referred to?
- To what extent is government intervention and international co-operation needed to tackle corruption in Russia?