Surveys attempting to measure illegal or frowned-upon behavior are notoriously difficult to execute in a useful way. This is especially true when it comes to surveys asking global corporate leaders how well they are following anti-corruption laws.
On the one hand, such surveys can end up underestimating the problem when companies are reluctant to acknowledge behavior that can result in multimillion dollar fines. On the other hand, surveys can overestimate corruption issues or give a false sense of a growing problem simply because awareness is growing as more and more executive and managers undergo mandatory training on all the different ways to run afoul of U.S., UK and Canadian anti-corruption laws.
Such surveys become even more problematic when the organization conducting the survey stands to benefit from results that highlight whatever problem the organization is in the business of solving.
So, with all those caveats out of the way, it is worth noting that Ernst & Young’s 2013 Europe, Middle East, India and Africa Fraud Survey is quite useful, both for its scope and for its findings. The recently released survey is based on anonymous interviews, conducted in late 2012, with 3,459 people from companies in 36 countries. Interview subjects ranged from employees to board members, directors, and managers. The majority of the companies surveyed employed more than 1,500 workers. For sheer breadth, the survey is noteworthy. The results are, too.