Prof. Matthias Kleinhempel is Director of the Center for Governance and Transparency at IAE Business School, Austral University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Center explores these issues across the Latin American region and offers concrete tools to practitioners to help them create, enhance and deliver effective compliance programs. “Business schools can play a crucial role in helping companies, in particular those in countries with a challenging environment. We have found that the key is to work with the CFOs and the compliance officers of MNEs and local companies to give them a platform for discussion and exchange of Best Practices. Business Schools can work as facilitators for collective action; one of the most promising tools in the anti-corruption battle.”
Prof. Kleinhempel has a background in the business sector and has been with the Center since it began in 2008. “My interest in this area really began because of the strong emphasis that the university puts on values. I saw how companies put in place a whole range of norms and systems to instil values in a company but continuously find failure with this approach. The key is not to keep putting in rules but to change the values of the people at the top, which influence the people in the rest of the organisation.”
The Center is working on a range of anti-corruption programmes, including:
- Collecting Best Practices: The Center conducted surveys of good practices and compliance programmes among both the largest 300 companies (by revenue) across Argentina and Latin American subsidiaries of MNEs. The studies provide insights into the current status of business ethics at big companies in Argentina and wider Latin America as well as possible improvements to the field. “Most companies say they have a formal compliance system which has been put in within the last 5 years which mean that these issues are definitely gaining momentum within the business sector.”
- Teaching Best Practices: “Many of the companies who participated in the surveys noted that, in order to improve further, they need more training”. IAE provides a range of business ethics and compliance courses/modules in all open enrolment programs. Senior managers are invited into classrooms to discuss real ethical dilemmas that they have faced in their businesses with the students. Students are given ethical dilemmas that they have to solve, present in class and then discuss. The Center is also working to incorporate ethics into a range of other courses, including Finance. “At the end of the day, it is about decision making. We try to raise awareness and train students to incorporate business ethics as a permanent criterion in their decision making framework.”
- Focused Programmes: IAE offers a programme called “Good Practices in Business and Compliance” aimed at Board Members, C-level executives which covers the most recent academic and business trends around corporate governance, risk management and compliance as well as the success factors of a good practice programme. The Center also works on the design and implementation of compliance programmes for business firms, including codes of conduct and putting help hotlines in place.
- A Learning Community and Discussion Platform: In June 2010, the Center launched the first Compliance and Best Practices Network aimed at scholars, practitioners and organisations that are devoted to the study, implementation and follow up of compliance programmes. Bi-monthly workshops are organised with CFOs and Compliance Officers to discuss topics related to compliance and exchange ideas on how to approach specific problems, including the review of successful collective action examples from across the region.
- Foster and Promote Collective Action: The lack of trust among companies is a big obstacle for collective action. These commitments have to start in a “light” version, which can be improved and updated to include more content as trust builds over time. “What companies like is to have independent instances to discuss suspicions regarding their partners in the collective. Universities and, in particular, the Center can provide a safe, neutral environment for companies to discuss these issues. It is difficult to show what kind of impact we are having, but the compliance officers keep coming back. We have only started this journey.”
- PRME Working Group on Anti-Corruption: The Working Group is focused on developing best practices and encouraging curriculum change through the incorporation of a business ethics approach with compliance as one of its key components, offering an integrity-based view with an impact on good business practices. The Working Groups is currently developing a toolkit for an anti-corruption curriculum framework for MBA students. The next meeting of the working group will take place on December 5th in conjunction with the 1st PRME Latin America Regional Meeting (December 6-7) hosted by IAE.
For more information:
- IAE’s Center for Governance and Transparency Website in English and in Spanish
- Compliance and Best Practices Website and Blog (in Spanish)
- PRME Working Group on Anti-Corruption
- Guideline to Implement the Curriculum Change for Transparency and Governance
- UN Global Compact Principle 10: Anti-Corruption
- IAE Business School’s PRME Profile and SIP Report