How Corruption is Tolerated in the Greek Public Sector: Toward a Second-Order Theory of Normalization

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Business & Society, pp. 000765032095486-000765032095486
Full metadata record
Secrecy and “social cocooning” are critical mechanisms allowing the normalization of corruption within organizations. Less studied are processes of normalization that occur when corruption is an “open secret.” Drawing on an empirical study of Greek public-sector organizations, we suggest that a second-order normalization process ensues among non-corrupt onlookers both inside and beyond the organization. What is normalized at this level is not corruption, but its tolerance, which we disaggregate into agent-focused tolerance and structure-focused tolerance. Emphasizing the importance of non-corrupt bystanders, we claim that second-order normalization helps corruption persist in situations where its presence is openly acknowledged. This adds an important new dimension to normalization theory and we unpack its implications for both future research and practice in this area.
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