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The Story of Captain Baby Face and the Coffee Maker: An Entrepreneurial Narrative Perspective on Corruption

Journal of Management Inquiry

Published online on


This article calls into question the frequently used negative moral labels assigned to corruption by describing gift giving as a form of narrative entrepreneurship that bridges ontologies between public service organizations. To effectively make the comparison, this article utilizes a unique methodology to explore corruption: the layered account autoethnography. The empirical setting of this story is a jointly operated military corrections facility in Iraq. It illustrates how gaps were perceived in the U.S.–Iraqi joint bureaucracy creating a space for play, and how corrupt behavior metaphorically bridged these gaps. Engaging in a minute form of gift giving provided remarkable insight into how partner organizations respond to traditional and corruption-friendly practices. This article is of benefit to practitioners and academicians alike because it illustrates at an individual level how corrupt bureaucracies function and how to promote successful interactions between alternate organizational ontologies.