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Liz Dávid-Barrett is a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation, Saïd Business School. Liz’s research focuses on bribery and corruption in international business, the associated legal and reputational risks, and the impact of this on corporate behaviour. She is also interested in political conduct , building on her previous research on political corruption, which has included projects for Transparency International, the Open Society Institute and the European Commission.
Liz is currently working on a project examining the impact of anti-bribery laws on company behaviour and on foreign trade and investment patterns. She is particularly interested in the pharmaceutical and construction industries, and has provided some of the results of her research to related industry associations, including to the ETHICS group of Compliance Directors in the pharmaceutical industry.
Liz is also involved in analysing the potential impact of the UK’s new anti-bribery law, the 2010 Bribery Act, and aims to provide insights both to companies seeking to comply with the new requirements, and to enforcement agencies considering key risk areas.
A further area of research interest is how global NGOs are responding to anti-bribery laws. Her findings suggest that they are less well prepared than multinational corporations to respond to the new legal requirements and explores possible explanations. Liz is keen to engage with the public-policy implications of her research and hopes to have an impact upon the understanding of policy-makers.
With a background in political science, including a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and an MSc in Politics Research from Oxford, and an MA in East European Studies from the University of London, Liz started her professional life working for various London think-tanks and a political risk consultancy. She also worked in journalism, as the Croatia correspondent for The Economist, and was a frequent contributor to the Financial Times, Business Central Europe, and the BBC World Service, writing on politics and the economy in south-eastern Europe.
Liz returned to Oxford to take a doctorate in politics, looking at political corruption in eastern Europe by examining the privatisation process.
Areas of expertise:
Liz’s research focuses on the regulation of bribery and corruption in international business, the associated legal and reputational risks, and their impact on corporate behaviour. She is also interested in government-business relations, political corruption and the regulation of political conduct.
CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY
The impact of anti-bribery legislation
With anti-bribery laws becoming increasingly common and more rigorously enforced, Liz has raised concerns about the unintended negative impact on countries in the developing world where corruption is common. Her research with Ken Okamura suggests that some companies choose to withdraw or minimise their involvement in corruption-prone countries, rather than incur the risk of falling foul of the legislation. This leaves such countries more vulnerable to less scrupulous companies who are not under the jurisdiction of anti-bribery laws, potentially undermining the legislation’s intended benefit to the economic development of such countries. Liz has submitted written evidence on this issue to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs’ inquiry into the human rights work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Before the UK’s new anti-bribery law, the Bribery Act 2010, came into force, the City of London Corporation commissioned Liz to analyse how well prepared the City was for dealing with the risk of corruption. Her paper was distributed to corporations in May 2010 and received with great interest. Liz is now exploring the impact of the new law on companies, and the enforcement environment.
How NGOs are responding to anti-bribery laws
Together with Robert Barrington, Liz is currently analysing data from both UK-based and global NGOs to assess how well they are complying with anti-corruption laws and requirements. Their research suggests that NGOs are less well prepared than multinational corporations. Liz explores several potential reasons why NGOs might be failing to engage fully with this legislation, including uncertainty as to whether the laws apply to non-commercial entities, lack of resources on the part of NGOs and the prioritisation of the overriding mission Liz suggests that NGOs may start to face pressure from donors and regulators to respond fully to the anti-bribery laws.
Government -business relations
Liz is well-regarded for work on political corruption, and in particular for a project she completed with Transparency International, entitled ‘Cabs for Hire: Fixing the Revolving Door Between Government and Business’. Liz examined the controls in place to manage the movement of individuals between the private sector and public office, in both directions. Liz found that although there can be significant benefits of close connections between public and private sector organisations, under the current system there is great potential for conflict of interest on an individual level. This occurs, for example, when someone in public service takes employment with a company to which they had previously awarded government contracts. Liz concluded that the system that regulates this area was in urgent need of reform. The Public Administration Select Committee has recently launched an inquiry on this issue.
Regulation of political conduct and standards
Liz is involved in a project for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on parliamentary standards and the regulation of parliamentary conduct in its member countries. The role of an MP in a modern legislature.
Liz took part in a project run by Oxford’s Department of Politics that interviewed 30 of the new cohort of MPs in the UK Parliament in 2010-2011 to examine the role of an MP in a modern legislature and the implications for regulating political conduct.
Corruption in Eastern Europe
Liz has undertaken a number of projects on corruption risks in Eastern Europe, and has also written on the issue of the lustration of public officials in Hungary.
Liz’s work is grounded in the policy and practice of business and her intention is to have a direct impact upon the understanding of organisations and their conduct in the areas she addresses.
Impact of the UK’s new anti-bribery law
As a result of her work considering the impact of anti-bribery laws in the UK, Liz is starting to feed the results of her research back to industry associations. She has particularly focused on the pharmaceutical and construction industries, and, for example, was invited to present her findings to the ETHICS group of Compliance Directors in the pharmaceutical industry.
Government and public policy
Liz’s area of expertise makes her a vital contributor to public debates on business-government relations. Perhaps her most well known work to date has been her report on the revolving door between business and government, with Transparency International, which was the focus of much media attention, including forming the basis of the Radio Four’s ‘File on Four’ documentary, broadcast on 26 July 2011
Liz highlighted the serious risk of conflict of interests caused by individuals moving in the ‘revolving door’ between government and business, and the deficiencies of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) which regulates this movement. Liz’s work contributed to a general heightening of awareness of this issue, and in January 2012 the UK Parliament’s Public Administration Select Committee launched an inquiry into the Business Appointment Rules.
Impact of the UK anti-bribery laws on human rights overseas
In 2011, Liz contributed written evidence to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs inquiry into the human rights work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, setting out the potential unintended impact of the recent UK Bribery Act on human rights in developing countries. Liz voiced concerns that the Act is likely to cause companies under its jurisdiction to withdraw from doing business in countries where corruption is common, rather than face the difficult task of conducting business in compliance with the legislation. Anti-bribery laws are intended to reduce the ‘supply’ of bribes in developing countries, but research suggests that they might have unintended and perverse consequences.
The Foreign Affairs Committee adopted Liz’s recommendation that the UK Government use its powers under The Bribery Act to pursue cases concerning alleged bribery overseas against companies undertaking business in the UK, and asked the FCO to account for what it is doing to encourage non-parties to the OECD Convention to introduce and enforce national anti-bribery laws to the same standards as the Convention.
The Foreign Affairs Committee’s report
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s response
Parliamentary standards and regulation in OSCE countries
Liz is currently engaged in drafting a report to advise OSCE countries in the process of implementing regulations to govern parliamentary standards and conduct. The OSCE has commissioned Liz to analyse countries with experience of regulating in this area, in order to draw points of advice for other member countries that are starting to implement these types of procedures, in particular those in eastern Europe and central Asia.
Corruption issues in eastern Europe
Liz’s research into corruption risks in Hungary in 2002 contributed to changes in the way the EU now monitors corruption and anti-corruption in its member states, and her work on the vetting and lustration of public officials, also in Hungary, informs other societies and countries that face similar transitional justice issues.
Liz is the co-ordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Research Network, and is a ‘Region Head’ and Contributor for Oxford Analytica. She was also a founding Member and Member of the Executive Board (2001-2004) of the TRANSFUSE Association, a network of young leaders in south-eastern Europe which initiates projects in the sphere of public policy, aimed at building administrative capacity and integrity.
Liz regularly contributes expert analysis to the media and has recently appeared in the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, Barrister magazine, People Management, and Management Today. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Politics and served as Assistant Editor of the journal Global Crime from 2008 to 2010.
Liz teaches on operating in corrupt environments as part of Saïd Business School’s Executive Education Diploma in Innovation and Strategy, and is developing a case study to be used in future courses.
Liz also tutors undergraduate students in political sociology and sociological theory, and has previously taught qualitative research methods to graduate students.
As an invited lecturer at the Joint Vienna Institute in October 2011, Liz has also taught public officials from south-eastern Europe about corruption risk, particularly in Public-Private Partnerships.
Centre for Corporate Reputation
Saïd Business School
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