Integrity is doing the right thing when you don’t have to—when no one else is looking or will ever know—when there will be no congratulations or recognition for having done so.
Much is said and written about corruption, but concrete grassroots actions remain limited to address this complex issue in practice, especially within the private sector. Our theory of change is based on the premise that private sector corruption can be combatted in a more effective way by establishing Integrity Nodes/Networks (INNs), which directly interconnect companies/investors, suppliers/service providers, clients/users and communities seeking to do business in an ethical and integrous manner, while advancing a common set of values, i.e., Equity, Equality and Sustainability through Innovation (EESI).
“Corruption has reached alarming levels in recent years and now costs the equivalent of about 5% of global output annually.” (Santos & Fraga, 2020)
“Private corruption affects the entire supply chain, as it distorts markets, undermines competition, and increases costs to firms. It prevents a fair and efficient private sector, reduces the quality of products and services, and leads to missed business opportunities.” (UNODC, 2013)
“An effective ethics and compliance programme, which goes beyond mere compliance and aims to foster a culture of integrity, should include internal, external and collective measures… Companies should thus adopt a proactive approach to strengthen business integrity and ethics in their supply chains, regarding their corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices.” (UNODC, 2019)
In computing and telecommunications, very generally, a node is a point of intersection, connection or union of various elements which converge in the same place… In computer networks, each machine is a node, and if the network is the Internet, each server is also a node. The network concept could be defined as a set of interconnected nodes.
By applying these technology concepts to our field of study, from a Participatory Action Research (PAR) perspective, we seek to directly interconnect companies/investors, suppliers/service providers, clients/users and communities, -which are now disconnected as a result of their marginalization from mainstream business activities, -basically because they have resisted the corporate corruption cycle-, so that they converge in the same place to do business through INNs, based on ethical and integrous practices.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a framework for conducting research and generating knowledge centered on the belief that those who are most impacted by research should be the ones taking the lead in framing the questions, the design, methods, and the modes of analysis of such research projects. The framework is rooted in the belief that there is value in both traditionally recognized knowledge, such as scholarship generated by university-based researchers, and historically de-legitimized knowledge, such as knowledge generated within marginalized communities.
To be successful, INNs must be built upon their own existing knowledge, which is constantly and collectively created by individuals, communities of practice and companies/investors -especially startups and micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)- at the grassroots level. Thus, PAR, which “seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection” (IMPACT, 2014), becomes the tool of choice in this simple, yet practical approach.