The political economy of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: An exploratory analysis

Rebecca L. Perlman, Alan O. Sykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Critics of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) have frequently claimed that it puts U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage. This critique suggests that the beneficiaries of FCPA enforcement are foreign competitors of U.S. firms, and foreign economies that suffer fewer of the inefficiencies associated with corruption. Yet enforcement of the Act has increased dramatically since it first passed in the post-Watergate, anti-corruption era. If the FCPA really promotes foreign interests over the interests of U.S. firms doing business abroad, and if there are no obvious domestic beneficiaries of aggressive enforcement, why have domestic business interests been unable to push back successfully against growing enforcement? This article suggests several reasons why the adverse effects of FCPA enforcement on U.S. business may be considerably smaller than some FCPA critics suggest, and why significant numbers of U.S. firms may actually benefit from enforcement. Our hypotheses find support in Congressional testimony, business surveys, and interviews with prominent FCPA practitioners and compliance officers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Legal Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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