Goffman’s Return to Las Vegas: Studying Corruption as Social Interaction
In this paper, we argue that corruption research can benefit from studying corrupt transactions as a particular form of social interaction. We showcase the usefulness of a theoretical focus on social interaction by investigating online user reports on the website Frontdesktip.com. Through this focus, we can observe users sharing experiences and tips on the best ways of bribing hotel clerks in Las Vegas for attaining room upgrades and other complimentary extras. We employ a logistic regression analysis to examine what factors influence the “successful” performance of this bribery practice. Our study makes a twofold contribution to existing research on corruption. First, on the theoretical level, we show that the typified and scripted character of social interactions can help explain the occurrence of corrupt transactions. Second, on a methodological level, our study showcases online self-reports as a useful data source to study corrupt transactions in an unobtrusive way.
KeywordsBusiness ethics Bribery Codes of conduct Corruption Online media Social interactions
We thank Michael Etter, Patrick Haack, Merrill Jones Barradale, Hans Krause Hansen, Katja Rost, Andreas G. Scherer, Arne Robert Weiss, Glen Whelan, and Peter Winkler for their fruitful comments and suggestions regarding earlier versions. We owe special gratitude to Roland Stettler for his generous and invaluable assistance with data collection and analysis in the initial stages of this research project. Furthermore, we are grateful for the helpful research support provided by Joyce Costello and Jordan Vincent. Portions of this research were funded by the Research Council of Norway (project “Fair Labor in the Digitized Economy” at BI Business School, Oslo), the Danish Council for Strategic Research (project “Responsible Business in the Blogosphere” at Copenhagen Busines School) as well as the “Governing Responsible Business” (GRB) Research Environment at Copenhagen Business School.
- Ashforth, B. E., & Anand, V. (2003). The normalization of corruption in organizations. In R. M. Kramer & B. Staw (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (pp. 1–52). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
- Bernardi, R. A., Delorey, E. L., LaCross, C. C., & Waite, R. A. (2003). Evidence of social desirability response bias in ethics research: An international study. Journal of Applied Business Research, 19(3), 42–52.Google Scholar
- Blundo, G. (2007). Hidden acts, open talks. How anthropology can “observe” and describe corruption. In M. Nuijten & G. Anders (Eds.), Corruption and the secret of law. A legal anthropological perspective (pp. 27–53). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Blundo, G., & de Sardan, J. P. O. (2006). Everyday corruption and the state: Citizens and public officials in Africa. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Local area unemployment statistics (Series ID: LAUMT32298203). Retrieved from http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LAUMT32298203?data_tool=Xgtable.
- Cleek, M. A., & Leonard, S. L. (1998). Can corporate codes of ethics influence behavior? Journal of Business Ethics, 17(6), 619–630.Google Scholar
- Cole, S., & Ahn, T. (2011). Evidence from the firm: A new approach to understanding corruption. In S. Rose-Ackerman & T. Søreide (Eds.), The international handbook on the economics of corruption (pp. 408–427). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Cressey, D. R. (1953). Other people’s money; a study of the social psychology of embezzlement. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Crowley, P. J. (2012). The rise of transparency and the decline of secrecy in the age of global and social media. Penn State International Law Review, 1(2), 241–390.Google Scholar
- Della Porta, D., & Vannucci, A. (2012). The hidden order of corruption: An institutional approach. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Fine, G. A., & Manning, P. (2003). Erving Goffman. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), The Blackwell companion to major contemporary social theorists (pp. 34–62). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1955). On face-work: An analysis of ritual elements in social interaction. Psychiatry, 18, 213–231.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1969). Where the action is: Three essays. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- HVS. (2012). HVS Las Vegas casino and hotel market outlook 2012. Retrieved from http://www.hvs.com/Content/3226.pdf.
- Konchar, S. (2014). The 2012 Libor scandal: An analysis of the lack of institutional oversight and incentives to deter manipulation of the world’s most important number. Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, 23, 173–197.Google Scholar
- Lambsdorff, J. G. (2006). Measuring corruption: The validity and precision of subjective indicators. In C. J. Sampford, A. Shacklock, C. Connors, & F. Galtung (Eds.), Measuring corruption (pp. 81–100). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Martinez, A., & Williams, C. C. (2014). Explaining cross-national variations in tax morality in the European Union: an exploratory analysis. Studies of Transition States and Societies, 6(1), 5–18.Google Scholar
- Petrillose, M. J., & Brewer, K. P. (2012). An exploration of customer retention factors in Las Vegas casino resort properties. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 5(2), 1–14.Google Scholar
- Seidl, D. (2005). Organization and interaction. In D. Seidl & K. H. Becker (Eds.), Niklas Luhmann and organization studies (pp. 145–170). Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.Google Scholar
- Toffler, B. L. (2003). Final accounting: Ambition, greed, and the fall of Arthur Andersen. New York: Broadway Books.Google Scholar
- Warburton, J. (2001). Corruption as a social process: From dyads to networks. In P. Larmour & N. Wolanin (Eds.), Corruption and anti-corruption (pp. 221–237). Canberra: Asia-Pacific.Google Scholar