Companies with fewer levels of management such as legal, accountancy and investment banking firms could be up to five times more susceptible to corruption than similar sized organisations with a taller structure such as those in manufacturing, a new study by the University of Sussex and Imperial College has revealed.

Conversely the quantitatively-modelled research also shows that widespread corruption spreads more quickly through a taller company than through an organisation with fewer levels of management and is more likely to permeate throughout its ranks.

The new research paper, published in next month's Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, also warns that a medium-sized organisation with less than 5% of employees committed to whistle-blowing would be powerless to prevent corruption spreading through their company.

The authors say a company with a critical threshold of 25% of whistleblowing employees is needed to prevent widespread corruption taking hold.

Our mathematical modelling assumes that the infection susceptibility of each employee is independent and identical with every contact with a corrupt colleague and takes into account the complex organizational network through which the corrupt practice spreads.

"Once corruption pervades an organization to the extent that it becomes an organization-wide phenomenon, it will almost certainly decay and die, resulting in enormous social and economic costs.

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