Legitimizing dishonesty in organizations: a survey of managers in four sub-Sahara African countries

Martina L. Yanga, Isaac O. Amoako

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter investigates how dishonesty may be legitimized in organizations through customary practices of gift giving, patronage, and non-meritocratic employment practices.

Design/methodology/approachA survey of managers was undertaken in four subSaharan African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

FindingsGift giving was perceived to be widespread in organizations in all four countries and yet the vast majority of managers we surveyed, rejected the proposition that the practice of gift giving causes dishonesty in organizations. There were crosscountry variations as to whether the expectations of the society on individuals "glorify and endorse" dishonesty as they may feel pressured to accumulate and (re)distribute wealth among their wider social groups. Non-meritocratic employment practices were unanimously perceived to engender incompetent workforce, lack of accountability and transparency without necessarily improving trust, and loyalty in organizations.

Research limitationsThis study used quantitative methods to gauge managers' perceptions of the relationship between customary practices and dishonest behavior in only four African countries. Further qualitative research is required to gain a deeper insight into how customary practices may inform dishonest behavior in organizations.

Implications for managers Managers should be clear about the distinction between customary practices and dishonest behavior in order to facilitate the development of appropriate organizational strategies to minimize their negative impacts.

Originality/ value This paper explores the relationship between dishonesty and customary practices of gift giving, patronage and nepotism in African organizations from the managers' point of view, an approach that had not been undertaken previously.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication(Dis)Honesty in Management
EditorsTiia Vissak, Maaja Vadi
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781781906026
ISBN (Print)9781781906019
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvanced Series in Management
ISSN (Print)1877-6361


  • Dishonesty
  • corruption
  • Africa
  • culture
  • gift giving
  • patronage
  • nepotism
  • management


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