The Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal: A case of executive hubris

David Sarpong, Jana Sajdakova, Kweku Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Convicted for paying bribes to secure contracts abroad, Mabey and Johnson (M&J), a UK construction firm, made both legal and international business history. Drawing on hubris as a lens, we examine M&J's bribery scandal in Ghana and Jamaica. Through a qualitative study of court documents, witness statements, newspaper articles, and internal company emails, we unpack the bribery scheme operated by M&J executives that enabled the firm to illegitimately win major government contracts in Ghana and Jamaica. Fueled by executive hubris, M&J's practice of bribing foreign officials to secure contracts effectively insulated M&J executives from day-to-day realities. Over time, the firm's executives viewed themselves as infallible, exempt from established mores, invincible, and were unremorseful for their actions. Building on these findings, we develop a hubris-bribery heuristic framework showing how individual, organizational, and institutional contexts constitutively fueled executive hubris, driving bribery at M&J. The implication for theory and practice is examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
JournalThunderbird International Business Review
Issue number2
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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