In some parts of the world, small-scale bribery and corruption are widely seen as greasing the wheels of commerce. It's not uncommon for a developing-market subsidiary to complain, when asked to comply with the values of a foreign parent company, that compliance will hamstring its growth. But a recent study suggests that such complaints are baseless.

The EY "Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa Fraud Survey 2015" polled 3,800 employees, managers, and executives in 38 EMEIA countries. One of its less-surprising findings is that for global businesses, the risks of fraud, bribery, and corruption are widespread.

Survey respondents were asked about the prevalence of corrupt practices in their country, and about their attitude toward corruption. Figure 1, "Fraud, bribery, and corruption across EMEIA" (on page 4 of this article), shows geographic differences in business culture. The results are striking. For example, while nearly all respondents in Kenya believe bribery and/or corrupt practices are common in that country, only about a third of respondents from the Middle East feel that way. Yet far fewer respondents from Kenya than from India—or from Spain—believe that companies in their country frequently report better financial performance than they actually achieve.

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