Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., is a Docent at the Oakland Zoo and author of Greaseless: How to Thrive without Bribes in Developing Countries. She’s Professor Emerita of International Business at California State University, East Bay, and worked in Africa as a United Nations Volunteer. Dr. Breuning began studying the mammalian social brain after lecturing worldwide on bribery prevention. Her new book is I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness. Her websites are full of good information on these subjects.
Dr. Breuning describes her political views as follows: “I’m an independent centrist. I don’t mean wishy-washy; I mean: (1) The world is not going to hell in a hand-basket. Every period of human history has felt like a crisis and a “turning point” to the people living it.
(2) Government is neither the cause nor the cure for all problems. Human nature causes problems and human effort solves problems. (3) Political convictions are rooted in personal experience, which the mind tends to overgeneralize. (4) Partisanship fills a deep human need. Social bonds grow strong when there’s a common adversary. Political activists can end up more invested in their own social dominance than in the welfare of the whole. Fortunately, each party acts as a check on the potential misguidedness of its opponents.”
Officials in Third World countries are notorious for blocking your way until you pay them to step aside. Many people feel they have no choice but to comply. “It’s the culture,” they say.
Dr. Breuning rejects the idea that bribery is a harmless tradition, and outlines a practical strategy for resisting. “Not everybody does it,” she makes clear. Success at refusing corrupt practices can be learned just like any other skill.
Personal stories make the advice come alive. Whether you have business, pleasure, or family ties to developing countries, you will benefit from the clear explanation of how corruption erodes a country’s infrastructure and productivity. In some cultures, prices are negotiable, and people expect rules to be the same. If you insist on a rules-based transaction, you are giving the country something more valuable than cash. You are helping to make it a place where you can drink the water. Asians, Africans and Latin Americans are passing this book around enthusiastically because it respects their reality and shows how to make your integrity work for you.