The Effects of Corruption on Organizational Networks and Individual Behavior

Brandy L. Aven, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University


Previous research has largely examined social network position as the key determinant of information acquisition. In this study, I instead examine the effects of information on patterns of relations. By contrasting corrupt and non-corrupt projects within an organization, I am able to examine whether the type of information alters the way individuals mobilize to accomplish a goal. This study examines longitudinal data and couples qualitative coding techniques with social network analysis to understand the effects of content on social structure. In contrast to non-corrupt projects, corrupt networks have lower connectivity, have fewer reciprocal relations, and share less communication. These different patterns also hold for a within-subject comparison study. For the same individual, corrupt communications, as compared to non-corrupt communications, are significantly less reciprocal and have reduced transitivity, meaning that message recipients are not as likely to share a communication link. These individual-level behaviors overtime have repercussions for the entire communication network.