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Technology as perceived benefit or burden in the fight against corruption at international SMEs? The role of trust and reduced human interaction

Emily Luisa Bauer, Stefan Schembera


In light of the disclosed organisational corruption scandals over the last decades, firms increasingly adopt information and communication technologies (ICTs) to fight corruption. Internationally operating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seem particularly likely to benefit from the use of anti-corruption-related ICTs: Not only do SMEs lack knowledge on the business practices in geographically and institutionally distant markets, but they also often lack the resources and bargaining-power to reject a corrupt offer. Building on interview and documentary data, the aim of this case study is hence to explore when, how and why SMEs may experience ICTs as a chance or a challenge in the fight against corruption in foreign business. We find that trust and the lack of human interaction are central factors linking ICTs and anti-corruption at SMEs, yet involved actors currently derive at partly contradictory conclusions as to the particular role of these factors.


Digitalisation; International SME; Anti-Corruption; ICT; Transparency

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