Innovation in Anti-Bribery Compliance: Spotlight on the Positive Deviance Initiative

Innovation in Anti-Bribery Compliance: Spotlight on the Positive Deviance Initiative

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February 08, 2016

In certain high-risk countries, at first glance it may seem impossible to engage in government procurement without paying bribes.  But many times there are in fact some businesses who are able to win government contracts, complete their work, and get paid, all without paying bribes. How do they do it?

To answer this question, a growing number of academics, development workers, and corruption specialists are turning to the “positive deviance theory.” Originating in international public health and nutrition studies, positive deviance theory relies heavily on statistics, and it has now been applied in a myriad of contexts, including extortion situations.

When employees are faced with improper requests for a bribe, corporate compliance officers often instruct their colleagues to refuse the request, walk away from the situation, and report these demands to a supervisor or manager. The uniqueness of the positive deviance approach is that it attacks the anti-corruption problem from a different perspective – focusing on engagement with those who request bribes, rather than on withdrawal. The goal is to draw lessons from the experiences of those who are already able to ethically and successfully handle extortion and potential extortion situations.

To find out more, watch the TRACE interview of Bruce Horowitz, founder of the Center for the Study of Bribery and Extortion Situations, discussing the lessons of positive deviance for anti-bribery programs. This video, normally only available to TRACE members, will be publicly accessible on the TRACE Trends blog throughout the month of February. The video is available here.

Also this month, TRACE is sponsoring the Innovation in Anti-Bribery Compliance Award, which recognizes creative, far-reaching efforts by multinational companies to develop leading anti-bribery practices that advance transparency in business. To submit a nomination, download and complete the nomination form here.  The deadline for submissions is February 12, 2016.

For more on this topic, please see the following resources:

Positive Deviance Initiative website
The Use of Positive Deviance in Government Functionary Extortion Situations
Facilitation Payments in Customs & Ports – Part 1

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