DSC 0687 webIACA is pleased to announce that Professor Han-Kyun Rho, an international expert in business ethics and management systems, has joined its faculty as Full Professor for Collective Action, Compliance, and (private sector) Anti-Corruption.

In this role he will oversee the launch and implementation of IACA’s new International Master in Anti-Corruption Compliance and Collective Action (IMACC), the first master’s programme specially designed for practitioners involved with the business sector in these fields. As the head of IACA’s Compliance and Collective Action Department, Prof. Rho will also oversee the delivery of anti-corruption and compliance seminars and workshops for business professionals from around the world, and the build-up of the Academy’s research capabilities in this area.

Prof. Rho, a citizen of the Republic of Korea, joins IACA from Kookmin University, where he was Associate Professor in the College of Business Administration. He has a PhD in Management Studies and an MPhil in Development Studies from Cambridge University (UK).

Before embarking on his academic career he worked for more than a decade at the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in various economic and business-related roles. He has also served at the country’s Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.

“We are extremely glad that Professor Rho will be leading IACA’s education, training, and research activities involving the business sector,” said Martin Kreutner, Dean and Executive Secretary. “Our organization has many exciting new initiatives in this area, and Prof. Rho’s experience and expertise will be great assets as we develop and implement them.”

The Professorship is funded by the Siemens Integrity Initiative.

Here Prof. Rho shares some thoughts on compliance, business ethics, and the Academy’s new IMACC programme:

What got you interested in compliance and business ethics in the first place?

Han-Kyun Rho: Well, I’ve been looking at the relations between business, the state, and society for two decades now. But I might not have been so interested in these topics had I approached them in a conventional way.

Let me start with my particular understanding of business ethics. Many scholars tend to think of it as an intellectual attempt at applying a moral philosophy, like Kantian ethics or utilitarianism, to various business situations. But to me, business ethics is a dynamic, never-ending process in which businesspeople or companies (“agents” if you like) are seeking to embed themselves harmoniously in a larger system within which they work - such as an organization, a society, or even the planet. Similarly, I regard compliance as a balance between external legal and ethical demands made on an agent and the agent’s decision to shape its identity rather than merely complying with these demands.

How can we make a compelling business case for compliance systems when these are not followed to the same extent everywhere?

H-K R: My previous answer provides a clue here. If a company were to take advantage of varying levels of compliance expectations in different parts of the world or between sectors, it would simply be complying with external demands and would have no consistent corporate identity. Such a business would be seen as purely opportunistic and nobody would approach it with much respect. Consumers, suppliers, employees, and other stakeholders would take a similar attitude towards it in return, which would eventually hamper the company from prospering. I think the observation of Tom Peters and Robert Waterman still holds: “dedication to the central values of the company” is one of the key sources of its excellence.

Business professionals in anti-corruption and compliance already have many short courses to choose from. What does the IMACC offer that these other programmes don’t?

H-K R: Many things. First, the IMACC is much more comprehensive. It draws on many disciplines and provides a far deeper understanding of anti-corruption, compliance, and collective action at both the conceptual and practical level. It’s also a truly global programme enabling students to learn and share ideas with leading professors, practitioners, and peers from around the world. IMACC graduates receive an internationally recognized master’s degree with 120 ECTS credits under the EU’s Bologna process. And they join IACA’s alumni network of compliance and anti-corruption professionals in 152 countries and jurisdictions, which is an extremely valuable professional resource.

To what extent can business ethics be taught?

H-K R: If it is taught as an intellectual attempt to apply a moral philosophy to professional situations, the resulting learning might be a bit shallow and not very applicable to everyday life. Yes, you can acquire an increased level of moral sensitivity to an issue, such as some grey areas of corruption. However, that does not always lead to a moral action. Knowing is one thing, but acting is another.

I would argue that joining a community of like-minded professionals is a more effective way of developing and reinforcing ethical behaviour. Sharing questions, worries, trials, and errors within a network of peers helps its members to internalize the value of ethical behaviour and transform knowledge into action. This emphasis on networking and sharing experiences is central to all of IACA’s programmes and trainings, including the IMACC.

For more information about the IMACC, including details of how to apply, please click here.