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Fighting corruption in companies

“Although compliance generates considerable costs in many companies and intervenes in many business processes, there is hardly any evidence for the preventive effect of individual measures. In a research collaboration with E.ON and the University of Heidelberg, Simply Rational is investigating this peculiarity.”

Siemens, Volkswagen, Wirecard – despite certified, in some cases award-winning compliance management systems and established compliance departments that have comprehensive measures at their disposal to prevent corporate crime, the scandals surrounding corruption, bribery and fraud in business continue unabated. “So far, there are no sufficiently well-founded findings as to whether and which compliance measures have any preventive effect at all. Compliance standards are currently derived from draft legislation. We assume that when they are implemented, greater attention can be paid to the needs of employees and that this will have a positive effect on companies,” explains Dr. Niklas Keller, one of the project leaders and co-founder and managing partner of Simply Rational – Das Entscheidungsinstitut. The interdisciplinary team of scientists from the fields of sociology, psychology, economics and law wants to close this research gap together with E.ON SE and other practical partners from the business world.

Within the framework of the research project, which began in February, expert ratings, intervention studies and risk assessments will be used to investigate which preventive compliance measures are rated as effective in the long term by compliance experts from large commercial enterprises in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and on what these assessments are based. In addition, so-called “blind spots” will be examined – internal company behaviour and subcultures that typically remain hidden from classic compliance. The risk that the measures mainly provoke socially desirable responses towards compliance personnel is also included here. “We want to use these empirical findings to identify measures that are demonstrably effective in preventing rule-breaking behaviour,” says Prof. Dr. Pohlmann.

The team is an alliance of researchers and practitioners from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Simply Rational GmbH, a Max Planck spin-off, the University of Heidelberg and E.ON SE. The KBA-NotaSys Integrity Fund is supporting the two-year research project with 170,000 euros.

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