How to explain and prevent illegal activities of organizations in Brazil and Argentina

Project description

The research project explored organizational crime as well as attempts to prevent it in Brazil and Argentina, with a focus on international comparison. The research group, consisting of an international network of scientists, investigated current cases of corporate corruption in Argentina and surrounding Petrobrás in Brazil.

The research team built on previous successful collaborative works, dealing with organizational studies projects generally and internationalization of management specifically.

When analyzing the genesis of organizational crime cases, the focus was not typical characteristics of individual perpetrators, but on self-regulation within the organization, i.e. the unwritten and informal rules that helped to legitimize the crimes.

Research design

  • Inter-sectoral comparison of economy and politics in order to explore the effects of the organization’s environment with its specific forms of regulation on the unwritten, informal rules (Self-regulation) of the organization and how different contexts offer means to legitimize criminal activity.
  • Cultural comparison of the two Latin American countries Brazil and Argentina which helped to steer clear of a Western bias and to identify cultural context factors. In addition to the specific institutional mix of the regulatory frameworks of these countries, the high level of everyday occurrence of corruption makes these countries ideal cases for comparison and enabled the researchers to identify cultural and political factors and their effective force.
  • The project’s research emphasized an interdisciplinary perspective. This was reflected in the research team as well as the study design, covering Organizational Sociology, Political Science and Law.

International research partners

  • Prof. Dr. Wagner Pralon Mancuso, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, Brazil
  • Prof. Dr. Bruno Wilhelm Speck, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, Brazil
  • Prof. Dr. Paulo Roberto Neves Costa, Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR), Curitiba, Brazil
  • Prof. Dr. Sebastián Pereyra, Universidad Nacional de San Martin (UNSAM), Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dr. Matthias Kleinhempel, IAE Business School, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Scientific publications

2021 – Elias, Friederike & Sebastián Pereyra. Corruption Trials in Argentina: Justice Delayed? In Valarini, Elizangela, Pohlmann, Markus & Subrata Mitra (eds.), Political Corruption and Organizational Crime. The Grey Fringes of Democracy and the Private Economy. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. S. 213-243.

2020 – Pohlmann, Markus & Elizangela Valarini. The fight against corruption in Brazil – A case of good governance? In Glückler, Johannes, Herrigel, Gary und Michael Handke (eds.), Knowledge for Governance – Book Series Knowledge and Space, v. 15. Heidelberg: Springer. Chapter 10, pp. 225-241. ISBN 978-3-030-47150-7.

2020 – Pohlmann, Markus, Dannecker, Gerhard & Elizangela Valarini (eds.). Bribery, Fraud, Cheating. How to Explain and to Avoid Organizational Wrongdoing. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. ISBN 978-3-658-29062-7.

2020 – Valarini, Elizangela & Wagner Mancuso. The FIFA’s case and corruption in Brazil. An expert dialogue with Markus Asner and Fausto De Sanctis. In Pohlmann, Markus; Dannecker, Gerhard & Elizangela Valarini (eds.), Bribery, Fraud, Cheating. How to Explain and to Avoid Organizational Wrongdo-ing. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Chapter 10, pp. 151-163. ISBN 978-3-658-29062-7.

2019 – Valarini, Elizangela & Markus Pohlmann. Organizational crime and corruption in Brazil a case study of the “Operation Carwash” court records. In International journal of Law, Crime and Justice, v. 59, p. 100340.


January 2018 – Elizangela Valarini: „Corruption in Brazil“, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germesheim, Germany.

October 2016 – Markus Pohlmann and Elizangela Valarini: „Corruption and Cheating in Germany and Brazil“, Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and at Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Brazil.

October 2016 – Markus Pohlmann and Elizangela Valarini: „Corruption in Germany and Brazil“, University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil.


October 2016 – Methodology workshop „Collective Mindset Analysis“, Federal University of Santa Catariana (UFSC), presented by: Markus Pohlmann, Elizangela Valarini and Friederike Elias.

Other publications and media response

O sabor amargo do café nas cadeias globais de valor, Jota, 20.5.2019.

O passado problemático das corporações alemãs na América Latina, Jota, 22.4.2019.

Brazil: The choice between dictatorship and corruption, Corporate Crime Stories, 28.9.2018.

Kaffee, Corporate Crime Stories, 15.6.2018.

A luta contra corrupção no brasil: um caso de boa governança? Blog do labemus, 14.5.2018.

Election campaign in brazil: a victory for the political corruption? Corporate Crime Stories, 6.4.2018.

The problematic past of German corporations in Latin America, Corporate Crime Stories, 3.3.2018.

Can Brazil still be saved? On the Persistence of Political Corruption in Brazil, Corporate Crime Stories, 27.7.2017.

Lula verurteilt, Temer angeklagt – Die Effektivität der Justiz und der institutionelle Wandel in Brasilien, Corporate Crime Stories, 27.7.2017.

Kann man Gesetze und Politiker in Brasilien kaufen? Brasilianische Topmanager sagen aus, Corporate Crime Stories, 9.2.2017.

Die „Operation Autowäsche“ und der Kampf gegen Korruption in Brasilien, Manager Magazin, 9.11.2016.

Lula, Moro und die Top-Manager – Die „Operation Autowäsche“ und der Kampf gegen Korruption in Brasilien, Corporate Crime Stories, 21.10.2016.



Photo credit: Junius, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Research board