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Call for Papers for a Special Issue in the Journal of Business Research


Corruptive Practices, Digitalization, and International Business


Submission: Between May 1 and July 31, 2020


Guest Editors:

Pervez N. Ghauri  (University of Birmingham, UK, [log in to unmask])

Vikas Kumar (The University of Sydney, Australia, [log in to unmask])

Jeoung Yul Lee (Hongik University, South Korea/Chongqing Technology & Business University, China/University of Leeds, UK, [log in to unmask])

Byung Il Park (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea, [log in to unmask])



Purpose and Research Questions:


Although the corruptive behaviors have been explained in several ways (Farrales, 2005; Kouznetsov, Kim, & Wright, 2019), the widely-accepted definition of such behavior is the abuse of power for private benefits (Gorsira et al., 2018). Interestingly, without exception, corruption and bribery are rampant in many less developed and emerging economies (Petrou & Thanos, 2014; Wang et al., 2018) as well as in some developed markets.  The major oil companies in Brazil have bribed politicians through their secret subsidiaries, in addition to both Indian and Russian organizations who have used slush funds in Mauritius and Cyprus for the same purpose. For reference, Brazil was 105th, India was 78th, and Russia was 138th out of 180 countries in the list of the world’s corruption rankings in 2018.


Some scholars are questioning whether bribery (i.e., one aspect of corruption) paid by multinational corporations (MNCs) in several economies is entirely unethical behavior or simply unavoidable ‘grease’, which is necessary to promote subsidiary performance and elongate survival in foreign markets. Although greasing the wheels of business is inevitable in some economies, MNCs’ corruptive behaviors impact the host countries’ socio-cultural and economic environments, thus hampering them from reforming institutional frameworks (Shleifer & Vishny, 1993). While powerful MNCs run operations, unethical practices often occur from governments, suppliers, business partners, and even civil society and judiciary functions; thus, sometimes these unethical practices trigger considerable dilemmas for MNCs as well as for these countries (Doh et al., 2012). Can MNCs’ strategic responses to such dilemmas be justified as ‘non-market strategy’ (see Brouthers et al., 2008; Uhlenbruck et al., 2006)? Or do we have to blame both the givers and the receivers as being equally guilty? In reality, we have witnessed MNCs’ unethical behaviors and their enormous economic and social consequences in several countries such as Enron’s Dabhol power plant case in 1990s (The Economist, 2001) and more recently Reckitt Benckiser’s toxic humidifier sterilizer scandal in South Korea (BBC, 2016).


Indeed, corruption is not a new phenomenon, but it has a long history (Barkemeyer, Preuss, & Ohana, 2018; Kouznetsov et al., 2019; Steidlmeier, 1999). Very recently, the rapid spread of information and communication technology (ICT) and its tools has paved the way to support anti-corruption initiatives by enhancing public scrutiny (Adam and Fazekas, 2018). Six types of ICT-based anti-corruption interventions (i.e., digital public services and e-government, crowdsourcing platforms, whistleblowing tools, transparency portals and big data, distributed ledger technology [DLT] and blockchain, and artificial intelligence [AI]) “serve the fight against corruption by enhancing access to public information, monitoring officials’ activities, digitalizing public services and encouraging corruption reporting” (Adam & Fazekas, 2018, p. 4; Davies & Fumega, 2014; Subhajyoti 2012). For example, Kenya’s and Indonesia’s whistleblowing platforms, which have facilitated corruption case management and anonymous interactions with whistleblowers, have received about 2,000 corruption reports annually (Kossow & Dykes, 2018). According to Indian Prime Minister Modi, the Digital India initiative[1] helped to reduce corruption in India and made citizens’ lives more convenient (Prakash, 2016). The digital media can thus play a critical role to reduce corruption and enhance corporate social responsibility (CSR) in influencing MNCs’ engagement in a private as well as public sector (e.g., Ghoul et al., 2019).


Nevertheless, ICT and its tools can have potential to be used as dark-side inventories via new corruption opportunities that are linked to the dark web, cryptocurrencies, or simply through the misuse of well-intended technologies, e.g., digital public services and centralized databases. For example, authorities in Iran have confiscated around 1,000 units of bitcoin mining machines from two defunct factories. Iranians are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies as a remedy to volative local currency due to sanctions (BBC, 2019). Therefore, the success of using ICT to reduce corruption hinges on its appropriateness “for local contexts and needs technological skills and experience” (Adam & Fazekas, 2018, p. 27).


In sum, international business (IB) scholars have long tried to explore the foreign direct investment (FDI) phenomenon from the perspective of MNCs, and thus they have often turned their focus away from unethical attitudes in less developed and emerging markets. In other words, IB discussions have focused on solving queries, such as why MNCs conduct FDI, under which circumstances MNCs choose certain entry modes and what are the critical conditions for MNCs for profit maximization, and how they tackle the liability of foreignness by overlooking their business ethics and CSR, as well as the implications of digitalization (Rodriguez et al., 2005). Due to this, we do not yet know enough about the cause and effect relationship between MNC corruption and digitalization abroad. In this regard, the aim of this special issue is to bring together theoretical and empirical advancements examining corruptive practices and to highlight what role digitalization is playing in that in both domestic and foreign markets. We seek both theoretical and empirical papers, as well as literature reviews and meta analyses, including interdisciplinary and intersectoral researches, that may address, but are not limited to, the following list of potential research questions:


          ·        How do we extend leading theories of the firm by utilizing corruption and digitalization as laboratories challenging the assumptions of our theories, etc. (Cuervo-Cazurra, 2016)?

  • Do corruptive environments in host economies impact MNCs’ unethical behaviors or vice versa? Does digitalization and ICT prevent and/or facilitate these MNCs’ unethical behaviors?
  • How do MNCs strategically respond to corruptive environments in less developed and emerging economies; or what is the effect of MNC corruption on business environments and economic development in local economies? What roles of digitalization and ICT tools may play in this context?
  • Is there a particular relationship between MNCs’ entry mode choice and the level of corruption and CSR, as well as the level of digitalization, in host economies?
  • How do MNCs behave differently when they operate in home and host markets in terms of ethical aspects? How do e-government, crowdsourcing, whistleblowing tools, big data, blockchain, and AI influence these ethical behaviors?
  • Are ethical behaviors and standards different between developed country MNCs and emerging economy MNCs? Do digitalization and ICT interventions affect these different ethical behaviors and standards?
  • How can host country governments effectively regulate corrupted firms, including developed economy MNCs? Any corporate governance solution? Or do digitalization and ICT interventions by host country governments have a positive impact on this?
  • What is the impact of corrupt MNCs on the intensification/alleviation of poverty and inequality in local economies? Do e-government and digital media improve or aggravate this phenomenon?
  • Which local stakeholders do function as vehicles regarding MNC corruption in emerging economies? Can ICT preventions against corruption be effective in this case?
  • What are the areas where corruption poses a particular problem for MNCs’ non-market strategy for dealing with issues such as political lobbying, extortion by public officials, bribery by its agents and other intermediaries? How do digitalization and ICT preventions affect in this case?


Special Issue Workshop:

In order to facilitate revisions of selected papers, the authors of selected submitted papers to this special issue will be invited to a special issue paper development workshop (PDW), which will be held in December 2020. One author per each paper, which will be under R&R, will be particularly invited to make a presentation of his/her paper at PDW, and a hosting university will cover local expenses (e.g., meals) during PDW. Guest editors and Journal of Business Research (JBR) editorial board members will give the presenters constructive comments on developing their papers under R&R. However, the participation in PDW is not obligatory, and the presentation cannot guarantee the acceptance of presenters’ papers.


Submission Instructions:

Between May 1 and July 31, 2020, authors should submit their manuscripts online via should be prepared in accordance with the JBR style guidelines, so before a submission, please visit the website at: All submissions will be subject to the regular blind peer review process at the JBR.


More Information:

To obtain additional information, please contact the guest editors:


Pervez N. Ghauri  (University of Birmingham, UK, [log in to unmask])

Vikas Kumar (The University of Sydney, Australia, [log in to unmask])

Jeoung Yul Lee (Hongik University, South Korea/Chongqing Technology & Business University, China/University of Leeds, UK, [log in to unmask])

Byung Il Park (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea, [log in to unmask])




Adam, I., & Fazekas, M. (2018). Are emerging technologies helping win the fight against corruption in developing countries? Pathways for Prosperity Commission Background Paper Series, no. 21, Oxford: University of Oxford.

Barkemeyer, R., Preuss, L., & Ohana, M. (2018). Developing country firms and the challenge of corruption: Do company commitments mirror the quality of national-level institutions? Journal of Business Research, 90, 26-39.

BBC. (2016). Reckitt Benckiser sold deadly sterilisers in South Korea. Available at: [accessed September 1, 2016].

BBC. (2019). Iran seizes 1,000 Bitcoin mining machines after power spike. Available at: [accessed September 21, 2019]

Brouthers, L. E., Yan, G., & McNicol J. P. (2008). Corruption and market attractiveness influences on different types of FDI. Strategic Management Journal, 29(6), 673-680.

Cuervo-Cazurra, A. (2016). Corruption in international business. Journal of World Business, 51(1), 35–49.

Davies, T., & Fumega, S. (2014). Mixed incentives: Adopting ICT innovations for transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption. Available at: file/5172-mixed-incentives.pdf. [accessed January 7, 2019]

Doh, J. P., Lawton, T. C., & Rajwani, T. (2012). Advancing nonmarket strategy research: Institutional perspectives in a changing world. Academy of Management Perspectives, 26(3), 22-39.

Farrales, M. J. (2005). What is corruption. A history of corruption studies and the great definitions debate. San Diego: University of California.

Ghoul, S. E., Guedhami, O., Nash, R., & Patel, A. (2019). New evidence on the role of the media in corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 154(4),1051–1079

Gorsira, M., Denkers, A., & Huisman, W. (2018). Both sides of the coin: Motives for corruption among public officials and business employees. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(1), 179-194.

Kossow, N., & Dykes, V. (2018). Embracing digitalisation: How to use ICT to strengthen anti-corruption. GIZ. Available at: [accessed January 15, 2019]

Kouznetsov, A., Kim, S., & Wright, C. (2019). An audit of received international business corruption literature for logic, consistency, completeness of coverage. Journal of International Management, in-press.

Mauro, P. (1995). Corruption and growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 110(3), 681-712.

Petrou, A. P., & Thanos, I. C. (2014). The “grabbing hand” or the “helping hand” view of corruption: Evidence from bank foreign market entries. Journal of World Business, 49, 444-454.

Prakash, A. (2016). Digital India needs to go local. The Hindu. Available at: [accessed September 21, 2019].

Rodriguez, P., Uhlenbruck, K., & Eden, L. (2005). Government corruption and the entry strategies of multinationals. Academy of Management Review, 30(2), 383-396.

Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1993). Corruption. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), 599-617.

Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Gift giving, bribery and corruption: Ethical management of business relationships in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 20(2), 121–132.

Subhajyoti, R. (2012). Reinforcing accountability in public services: An ICT enabled framework. Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, 6(2), 135–148.

The Economist. (2001). Enron in India. Available at: [accessed 1 September, 2016].

Transparence International. (2019). Corruption perception index [online]. Berlin: Transparence International. Available at: [accessed September 21, 2019].

Uhlenbruck, K., Rodriguez, P., Doh, J., & Eden, L. (2006). The impact of corruption on entry strategy: Evidence from telecommunication projects in emerging economies. Organization science, 17(3), 402-414.

Wang, F., Xu, L., Zhang, J., & Shu, W. (2018). Political connections, internal control and firm value: Evidence from China's anti-corruption campaign. Journal of Business Research, 86, 53-67.


Special Issue Editors: 

Prof. Pervez Ghauri, PhD, is Professor in International Business at Birmingham Business School, The University of Birmingham (UK). He is Editor in Chief for International Business Review and Consulting Editor for Journal of International Business Studies. He has been conducting research on international marketing and international business topics, with focus on the internationalization process and entry strategies. In the last seven years his research focus has shifted towards the externalities of international business, specifically the activities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in emerging markets. His latest projects include social entrepreneurship, the role of multinational enterprises in poverty alleviation, developing a digital business model for the benefit of the poor and female segments, and exploring how MNEs can create a competitive position through ethical behavior in emerging markets. The majority of the projects above have been funded by organizations such as the European Commission, Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC) UK, Handelsbanken, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Soderbergs foundation in Sweden. He has published 30+ books and 100+ journal articles in top level journals. Some of his books have been translated in several languages and are used globally, including the USA, across Europe, and China. 

Prof. Vikas Kumar, PhD, is Head of Discipline and Professor in the Discipline of International Business at the University of Sydney Business School. He is the new Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Management, and he has served as a senior editor at the Asia Pacific Journal of Management until 2019, and was reviewing editor for the journal in 2016. Vikas was representative-at-large for the Global Strategy Interest Group in the Strategic Management Society (SMS) and was co-chair for the Sydney SMS Special Conference in December, 2014. He is on the Editorial Review Board of Journal of Management Studies, Journal of World Business, Management International Review and Global Strategy Journal. He is interested in studying the internationalization strategies employed by firms from emerging markets such as India. His research involves understanding the unique aspects of the institutional and cultural context of emerging markets and the influence context has on firm strategies. His research has been published in Journal of World Business, Global Strategy Journal, Management International Review, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of International Management and Long Range Planning among other journals in the field of international business and management. Vikas received the inaugural Excellence in Research Award by the University of Sydney Business School in 2013. His co-authored research article on ‘Indian business groups’ in Corporate Governace: An International Review received the 2nd best paper award in 2009. In 2007, Vikas received the best reviewer award by the International Management Division at the Academy of Management. In a recent study by Yadong Luo and Huan Zhang published in the Journal of International Management, Vikas was ranked among the top 15 authors based on impact in the field of ‘emerging market firm internationalization’. 

Prof. Jeoung Yul Lee, PhD, is Associate Professor at Hongik University School of Business Management (South Korea), Distinguished Professor at Chongqing Technology and Business University (China), and Visiting Associate Professor at Leeds University Business School (UK). At present, he serves as Associate Editor of Asian Business & Management, on the editorial advisory board of the International Business Review, and on the editorial review boards of the Management International ReviewAsia Pacific Journal of Management, and Management and Organization Review, as well as on the editorial advisory board of Cambridge Scholars Publishing (England, UK). He has served as a guest editor of special issue on International Networking and Success- vs. Failure-Based Learning of SMEs at the Management International Review, as well as the lead guest editor of special issue on MNCs’ Evolution versus Decline at the Management Decision. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Management Department of the Wharton School, and he has published 31 papers in SSCI journals, such as the Journal of International Business Studies (2015, 2019), Human Resource Management, Long Range Planning, Journal of Business Research, Management International Review, International Business Review, Journal of International Management, and International Journal of Human Resource Management. Among them a majority of papers are on the ABS 3* or 4* list. His main research interests are focused on Asian emerging-market multinationals, international business strategy, business groups, innovation, corporate social responsibility of multinationals, and digitalization and Industry 4.0. 

Prof. Byung Il Park, PhD, is currently a Professor in International Business at the College of Business, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (South Korea). His research focuses on Asian emerging-market MNCs, MNC strategy, and corporate social responsibility of MNCs and MNC corruptions. He has published in such journals as the Journal of World Business, Journal of International Management, Management International Review, International Business Review, International Marketing Review, Corporate Governance: An International Review, International Small Business Journal, and Asia Pacific Journal of Management. In addition, he is Editor-in-Chief of ‘International Journal of Multinational Corporation Strategy’ and has also handled special issues for Journal of World Business, International Marketing Review, Thunderbird International Business Review, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, and European Journal of International Management.

[1] The Digital India initiative refers to the Indian Government’s services are made Indian citizens be benefited electronically by improved online infrastructure or by allowing India digitally empowered in the field of digitalization (Prakash, 2016).


Jeoung Yul Lee, PhD
Associate Professor, Hongik U. School of Business Management, South Korea

Distinguished Professor, CTBU, Chongqing, China

Visiting Associate Professor, Leeds U. Business School, England, UK

Associate Editor, Asian Business & Management (2018 Impact Factor 1.231)

Editorial Advisory Board: International Business Review (2018 Impact Factor 3.639) 

Editorial Review Board: Management International Review (2018 Impact Factor 2.689),

Asia Pacific Journal of Management (2012 Impact Factor: 4.099),

Management and Organization Review (2018 Impact Factor: 2.400), and

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management (2018 Impact Factor: 2.619)

Editorial Board: Journal of Korea Trade (2015 Impact Factor: 0.607)

Editorial Advisory Board: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (England, UK)

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