Toward an Interest Group Theory of Foreign Anti-Corruption Laws

Foreign anti-corruption laws—laws that prohibit businesses from paying bribes abroad— present a puzzle. Why would the government of one country care to prevent corruption in other countries, especially when such laws harm domestic businesses? Unregulated foreign competitors can continue to pay bribes and win contracts while domestic companies suffer. Yet foreign anti-corruption laws now span the globe.

We offer an interest-group account of the spread of foreign anti-corruption laws. Our account is bottom-up and focused on private interest groups, rather than top-down and focused on state institutions. We look at domestic political interests in the United States and abroad to explain both the enactment and the enforcement of foreign anti-corruption laws. Our principal focus is on each country’s business lobby.

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