Institutional Corruption/examples

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Institution: academic freedom and integrity, “independence” of university

Examples:
A university researcher accepts grant from a private youth development foundation.
A university researcher accepts grant from a youth development foundation that wants to use tools resulting from the research.
A university researcher accepts grant from a youth development foundation that wants to commercialize tools resulting from the research.
A university researcher accepts grant from a youth development foundation that wants the findings to support use of the services the foundation provides.

Corruption: influence on the findings and their distribution, influence on research design

Institution: “Free” market informed choice

Examples:
A consumer products company paying a television production company to have a hit TV show’s main character use the company’s product in an episode.0
A consumer products company paying a television production company to have a hit TV show’s main character make positive statements about the company’s product in an episode.
A retailer paying a television production company to have a hit TV show’s main character have a good experience in their store in an episode.
A charitable organization giving a television production company’s executive mention the organization favorably in an episode.

Corruption: TV viewer not conscious of influence of endorsement because it’s couched in the TV show, not separated into advertising

Institution: the meaning of “conversation” and “friendship”

Examples:
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for individuals to send one-way “updates” to people they know.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for individuals to send one-way “updates” to people they have never met.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for organizations to send one-way “updates” to people who become their fans.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for organizations to send one-way “updates” to people in general.

Corruption: Over time, people think that being a friend means only sending out information, not listening (becomes one-way not two-way interaction). Friendship becomes depending on technology, not direct interaction (of course, the phone did the same thing in the early 20th century). Conversation becomes a commodity or asset that a company (Facebook) can “own.”

Institution: The meaning of “conversation” and “friendship”

Examples:
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for individuals to send one-way “updates” to people they know.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for individuals to send one-way “updates” to people they have never met.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for organizations to send one-way “updates” to people who become their fans.
Facebook encouraging and providing tools for organizations to send one-way “updates” to people in general.

Corruption: Over time, people think that being a friend means only sending out information, not listening (becomes one-way not two-way interaction). Friendship becomes depending on technology, not direct interaction (of course, the phone did the same thing in the early 20th century). Conversation becomes a commodity or asset that a company (Facebook) can “own.”

Institution: Language

Examples:
A company encourages young people to shorten text messages for efficiency

Corruption: Spelling mutates; shortened versions become part of vernacular (txt, OMG, etc.)

Institution: “Free” market informed choice

Examples:
Airline develops an online site to help travel agents or travelers select and book flights.
Airline develops an online site to help travel agents or travelers select and book flights, and airline discloses ownership of the website.
Airline develops an online site to help travel agents or travelers select and book flights, and the program’s algorithm always lists that airline’s flights first.
Airline pays a search engine company to have its flights be listed first.
Airline pays a search engine company to have its flights be listed first; these listings are flagged as “preferred.”
Airline pays a search engine company to have its flights be listed first; these listings are flagged as “sponsored ads.”

Corruption: Traveler may not be conscious of subtle manipulation in way information is presented or of the integrity (or lack thereof) of the search algorithm

Institution: ?

Examples:
A university opens a technology transfer office to sell its faculty researchers’ ideas to corporations for further development and commercialization.

Corruption:

Institution: “Free” press

Examples:
A media company is bought by an international conglomerate.
A media company runs a favorable story on a product of its international conglomerate owner.
A media company runs a favorable story on a product of its international conglomerate owner and discloses the ownership link.
A media company decides to not run an unfavorable story on a product of its international conglomerate owner.

Corruption: Meaning and entailments of the information are skewed

Institution: Meaning of “human nature”

Examples:
A psychiatrist gives a name or label to a pattern of human behavior (e.g., _____ disorder or syndrome).
A psychiatrist gives a name or label to a pattern of human behavior and invents a new treatment for it.
A psychiatrist gives a name or label to a pattern of human behavior and prescribes a drug for it.
A psychiatrist gives a name or label to a pattern of human behavior and becomes rich and famous from her book deal.

Corruption: Commoditization of specific patterns in diversity of human behavior, including eccentricities; medicalization of human behavior

Institution: Medicine

Examples:
A doctor enrolls her patient in a drug clinical trial for which she is the principal investigator.
A doctor invoices her patient’s insurance company for a drug clinical trial procedure.

Corruption: The first situation creates a conflict of interest between roles as treatment provider and principal investigator; the second situation adds redirection of resources (getting insurance money when research grant is the appropriate funding source).

Institution: Real estate market

Examples:
Real estate appraiser asks homeowner the purpose for the appraisal.
Real estate appraiser asks homeowner what value he needs to reach for the mortgage or refinance deal to go through.
Real estate appraiser only does a “drive by” of the property, not looking at back or inside of building/home.

Corruption: The first two statements can provide information that should not be part of the value calculation. The third statement may not be corruption directly, but since appraisal values are dependent on the values given to other properties in the area (or past values given to the target property), sloppy appraising can snowball in effect.

Institution: Privacy? (Is privacy a configuration of social order?)

Examples:
A media company “monetizes” a communications channel by delivering potential consumers to advertisers’ messages.
A media company “monetizes” a communications channel by delivering potential consumers’ demographic characteristics to advertisers.
A media company “monetizes” a communications channel by delivering potential consumers’ buying preferences or behavior to advertisers.
A media company “monetizes” a communications channel by delivering potential consumers’ identities to advertisers.

Corruption: I’m not sure this is corruption, but many people are upset that Facebook keeps trying to make money from the information that Facebook users provide to the site. However, for decades, TV networks, radio stations, and newspapers have been delivering their viewers to advertisers by enticing them to watch/listen/read (by providing TV shows, music, and journalism articles as enticements) and have been delivering databases of viewer/reader characteristics.


Institution: “Free” market

Examples:
An art gallery set the price of an artwork based on the size of the piece and the artist’s reputation.
An art gallery increases the price of works by an artist the day after the artist dies.
An art gallery set the price of an artwork by adding 10% to the price at which the same artist’s work sold last year.
An art gallery set the price of an artwork by adding 10% to the price at which the same artist’s work sold last year because the gallery owner knows that art buyers must see that the “value” of the artist has gone up or they will not buy.

Corruption: Compared to an art auction, all but the first statement describe situations where the art buyer’s/collector’s perception of value may be improperly influenced.

Institution: English language

Examples:
A teenager usurps an existing word and gives it a new meaning (like “cool” or “gnarly” or “stoked”).
A political party claims that their opponent party is a “terrorist” organization even though the opponent has never sponsored or been engaged in a violent act.

Corruption: I’m not sure this would be corruption. It happens all the time. Languages evolve. However, there are teachers and language experts that get upset and call it corruption. It does create ambiguity and at least temporary social disorder (across generations in the first situation, and in terms of what people should be afraid of and watch out for in the second situation).

Institution: The brand

Examples:
A food company has a well-known brand name for pickles. It applies that same brand name to a new ketchup product.
A food company applies its well-known brand name for pickles to a new ketchup product, and customers forget that it sells pickles.

Corruption: This is based on the true case of Heinz and how its ketchup success lost the company its positioning as a pickle company. I am not sure people would consider brand extension a corruption, but I thought I’d put it out there. The company’s standing the pickle category plummeted, and the company’s positioning certainly changed.

Institution: The museum

Examples:
An art gallery owner organizes an exhibition at a well-known art museum.
An art gallery owner organizes an exhibition at a well-known art museum and only includes artists he represents.
An art gallery owner organized an exhibition on “innovative packaged foods” at a well-known art museum.

Corruption: The second statement might be considered self-serving, using a more “public” venue to gain legitimacy and prestige for particular artists when patrons might assume that the art has been “vetted” in some way to be included in the exhibition. The third statement might be considered more of an advertisement for the packaged foods companies than an art show.

Institution: Two—the family or parenthood, and school

Examples:
Education leaders mandate that schools should be the primary venue for instilling proper values.
Education leaders mandate that schools should be the primary venue for providing nutrition.
Education leaders mandate that schools should be the primary venue for career/job training.
Education leaders mandate that schools should be the primary venue for disseminating safe-sex practices.

Corruption: All of these statements expand the role of school beyond training in the 3R’s and dissemination of the cultural canon (history, science, literature knowledge). Many of them move responsibility from family to school, and increase and ambiguate the school’s mission to be almost unwieldy. The third statement moves responsibility from companies to schools.

Institution: Scientific integrity, public trust of public officials

Examples:
A medical examiner provides autopsy findings that specifically support the police’s and district attorney’s theory of a crime.
A medical examiner provides autopsy findings that exonerate police’s behavior or position in a controversial event.

Corruption: Improper influence of institutions that work closely together (and some of these people work together a lot and are friends) instead of focusing on “truth” or “evidence.”

Institution: Scientific integrity and “objectivity”

An international organization of astronomers holds meetings to clarify the definition of the term “planet.” An international organization of astronomers holds meetings to clarify the definition of the term “planet” and sets an arbitrary size threshold for determining what is or is not a planet. An international organization of astronomers holds meetings to clarify the definition of the term “planet” while being sensitive to the emotional feelings and cultural values people hold about planets. An international organization of astronomers holds meetings to clarify the definition of the term “planet” and the discussion proceeds so as to avoid upsetting non-astronomers.

Corruption: This is part of the story behind the demotion of Pluto. Some people charged corruption because they believed feelings should not be part of scientific decision-making. Others charged corruption because they did not understand or believe how and why an arbitrary size threshold can be set “willy-nilly” (especially about something in the cosmos—isn’t astronomy supposed to be “above” human social squabbles and negotiation?). Perhaps one way to look at this situation is that many nonscientists are not privy to the messiness of scientific work and considered the negotiation itself as corrupting of the “scientific method,” which they believe is “objective.”

Institution: “Free” market

A dominant national retailer negotiates with manufacturers to lower prices. A dominant national retailer requires manufacturers to meet the retailer’s price points or refuses to carry the manufacturer’s product. A dominant national retailer sells shelf space (including prime eye-level shelf space at a premium) to the highest bidder among manufacturers. A dominant national retailer requires manufacturers to meet the retailer’s low price points and employs people at below-market wages to keep consumer prices low.

Corruption: Yep, WalMart. Many will consider WalMart’s power to lower prices a good thing, at least for consumers. Corruption of “free” market mechanisms to determine price? Creates barriers to entry for new products to get into the market. There are other arguments.

Institution: Medicine, meaning of disease

Examples:
A researcher labels a pattern of bodily functions or malfunctions as a “disease.”
A researcher labels a pattern of bodily functions or malfunctions as a “disease” because he knows only disease research is funded.
A doctor labels as pattern of patient complaints as a “disease.”
A doctor labels as pattern of patient complaints as a “disease” to get a National Institutes of Health grant.
A teacher labels a pattern of classroom behavior as a “disease.”
A teacher labels a pattern of classroom behavior as a “disease” to get additional special-needs funding.

Corruption: Possible redirection of research or treatment funds based on who can come up with sexiest name for the latest syndrome/disease, perhaps because the definition of disease is ambiguous in areas.

Institution: Engineering, “free” market

Examples:
A professional engineering organization negotiates the standard for a novel technology (operating platform, USB, DVD, etc.).
As the primary professional engineering organization determines the standard for a novel technology, an electronics company decides to release its product before the standard is set.
As the primary professional engineering organization determines the standard for a novel technology, an electronics company decides to release its product before the standard is set to garner a critical mass of users so that its product’s technology will have to be set as the standard.
An electronics company releases its product before the standard is set and entices users to buy because the company also owns rights to media that can be played on the new technology.

Corruption: This comes from the examples of Sony BluRay and how Sony also has rights to a lot of movies, so brings them quickly out in BluRay format and tips the momentum of the market, or perhaps also how iPod is only a vehicle for Apple to sell music through iTunes. At the least, this is a power struggle over who gets to decide what the standard is: the professional engineers with the technical expertise, or the consumers with the demand drummed up through advertising and promotions. Some engineers believe that it is a failure if two standards co-exist (VHS and Beta) because it confuses people and splits resources inefficiently; plus, many consumers lose because one of the standards eventually “wins” and those who bought the losing technology have a lot of misspent dollars.

Institution: Church, sanctity of God’s space on earth

Examples:
A church rents its sanctuary to theater and dance companies for performances on days other than Sunday.
A church rents space on the church campus to fast food restaurants, cafes, and retailers to entice more people to come to church.

Corruption: Many people would not consider the first statement a corruption but just “good business” to keep the church financially viable, but some would consider it sacrilege. Some people consider the second statement a corruption of the mission of Church to worship God by bringing earthly desires and perhaps even idols into a sacred space. Many mega-churches engage in both of these practices; their rationale is that anything that incentivizes people to come to church is a good thing.


Institution: Outdoors organization

Examples:
Rather than organizing free daytrips, a volunteer outdoor excursions leader designs increasingly expensive and elaborate trips in which participants stay in B&B’s or nicer campgrounds.
Rather than organizing free daytrips, a volunteer outdoor excursions leader designs increasingly expensive and elaborate trips in which participants stay in B&B’s or nicer campgrounds and sets pricing such that participants subsidize the leader’s lodging and food costs.
Rather than organizing free daytrips, a volunteer outdoor excursions leader designs increasingly expensive and elaborate trips in which participants stay in a cabin that the leader owns and charges participants a fee to stay there.
Rather than organizing free daytrips, a volunteer outdoor excursions leader designs increasingly expensive and elaborate trips in which participants stay in a cabin that the leader owns and charges participants a fee to stay there but discloses that it is a leader-owned facility.

Corruption: This is currently a debate in the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club), of which I am a member and for which I lead trips. The mission of the AMC is to conserve and to train people to appropriately use/enjoy the outdoors, outdoor activities, and wilderness activities. It is a membership organization with dues. Leaders are volunteers and not paid for their services to organize and promote trips, screen participants for proper gear and fitness level, and promote safety. Some argue that weekend-long trips that involve money and the subsidizing of leader costs as a corruption of the organization’s mission and spirit of volunteerism. Others think it is beneficial because it allows for more extravagant trips that leaders may not organize without the subsidy.

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