Corruption, compliance and sustainable business

BUS452 Corruption, compliance and sustainable business

Spring 2024

Autumn 2024
  • Topics

    This course aims at enhancing students' understanding of the phenomenon of corruption and related economic crimes (e.g. cartels), the problem's persistence, its consequences, and the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies to deal with it. Further, it prepares students to tackle real-life challenges relating to compliance, whistle-blowing and strategies towards authorities (e.g. leniency applications and other forms of self-reporting). It is a course in applied economics with an emphasis on legal boundaries, legal procedures and moral choice, and students will learn about risks, institutional challenges, legal regulation and the role of compliance systems. Corruption and related crimes are associated with legal grey zones and challenging conflicts of interest. The topics addressed demand ethical reflection around individual and institutional choices and the broader consequences of alternative strategies. The course is relevant for the private and the public sector, future leaders, advisers, accountants, board members, investigators and researchers alike. The lectures will describe empirical results, economic theory and relevant legal rules with heavy use of examples and facts about law enforcement problems, at the national and international level.

  • Learning outcome


    • explain why corruption and related crimes distorts markets and hinders development
    • distinguish different forms of corruption and corruption-related problems
    • describe the landscape of anticorruption strategies and institutions and judge their strengths and weaknesses
    • understand the concept of compliance systems in private and public organizations and its norm-generating function


    • gauge corruption risks in a market, government sector or organization
    • describe different players' opportunity to reduce the risk of corruption in business-related contexts
    • examine and explain the causes of suspected corruption
    • handle acute situations where crime is discovered within an organization
    • implement compliance and whistleblower procedures within organizations and businesses and give advice on how to change the incentive structures to minimize the occurrence of corruption


    General competence

    • understand the ethical dilemmas associated with corruption and related crimes and become better prepared for confronting them
    • debate the role and ethical responsibility of international players in corruption and anticorruption

  • Teaching

    There will be one lecture a week in the period mid-August to mid-November, altogether 12 lectures (one of which will consist of mandatory role-play in class).  Another lecture will be devoted to case-based dilemma training in preparation for the role-play. The contents of the course will be covered with short videos in addition to the lectures.

    Two of the lectures will be used for case-based dilemma training. Students will be asked to prepare in groups for the training session.

    Generally, the course is set up for active learning, practical examples combined with theory, dialogue, and clear learning aims.

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    There is no obvious overlap with other courses.

  • Assessment

    The final grade will depend on the results of four different tests, three shorter assignments and one 4 hour school exam, to be conducted individually (and submitted as an individual).


    The four tests and their importance for the grade:

    1. Assignment on empirical assessment of corruption-related problems using governance indicators (20% of grade). The assignment will be conducted in groups of max. 4 students

    2. Multiple choice test on facts, terms and theory - digital (20% of grade).

    3. Role-play based on a "true crime" case. Oral presentations in class, by groups of max. 4 students. (20% of grade).

    4. Four hour digital school -exam; solving a complex business-related situation and explain the problem (40% of grade). In format, the exam is similar to former exams (to be shared on Canvas).

    The four tests address different components of the course. The grade will be calculated automatically as a result of all four results. Individual assignments that have not been submitted will add to the grade average with an F.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale A-F

  • Literature

    Textbook (mandatory): Susan Rose-Ackerman and Bonnie Palifka. 2016. Corruption and Government. Causes, Consequences, and Reform. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press.


    We will use this book only and combine with other materials (journal articles, reports and cases) to be provided on the course website. Readings will be specified for each lecture.


    Other relevant books (not mandatory):


    Søreide, Tina. 2016. Corruption and Criminal Justice: Bridging Economic and Legal Perspectives, Edw. Elgar Publishing (two first chapters will be made available on the course website)


    Lord, Nicholas. 2016. Regulating Corporate Bribery in International Business: Anti-corruption in the UK and Germany. Routledge.

  • Permitted Support Material

    English Dictionary 

    Digital school exam: lock-mode


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Will be offered Autumn 2023.

Course responsible

Visiting professor Erling Hjelmeng, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law (University of Oslo, faculty of law).

Visiting professor André Seidel, Department of Business Administration (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences)