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Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 18, 2007

Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting

Howard Harris
Pages 45-49

Lessons in Corporate Culture from the Oil-For-Food Scandal
The Power of Transparent Inquiry

Australia’s monopoly grain exporter, AWB, was the largest provider of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime under the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. The full extent of AWB’s complicity and the failure of its corporate culture became apparent as a result of two inquiries, commissioned by the United Nations and the Australian Government, both of which operated with almost complete transparency. The paper examines the nature of transparency – as virtue, duty, technique and outcome – and uses the Oil-for-Food inquiries as a case study to show how transparency has exposed unethical behavior and brought about organizational change. Some potentially damaging effects of transparency and the implications for business and society are also discussed.

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