Illegal but ethical: an inquiry into the roots of illegal corporate behaviour in Russia



This paper examines the perceptions of Russian executives toward the relationship between legal and ethical conduct. The focus is on questions of tax evasion attitudes and corporate illegal behavior. Forty Russian managers and entrepreneurs from a variety of organizations were interviewed. Their actions are aimed at gaining corporate income and profit from operations through hiding corporate activity from state and local authorities in a context where these authorities levy excessive taxes and other types of payment from businesses. Tax evasion methods are presented and analyzed along with other varieties of illegal corporate behavior. The research results show that executives believe business could not perform in a completely legal way under Russia’s existing conditions. Illegal performance is thus viewed as legitimate and ethical.