Research into New Zealand companies' experience with corruption overseas found many are complacent about the risks and confused about what exactly constitutes bribery.
Last night Transparency International issued a report, conducted in conjunction with UMR Research, which interviewed several exporting businesses about their experience with corruption overseas.
It found many took a laissez-faire approach, especially when it involved small amounts of money.
In other cases there was confusion about what was acceptable, such as gifts or facilitation payments on the one hand, and outright bribes on the other.
Transparency International director Claire Johnstone said exporters needed to ensure they did not expose themselves to accusations of corruption, which could damage New Zealand's reputation or lead to prosecution.
"The old adage of 'doing what the cultural practice is' is not a justification to act unethically. All companies should train their staff on what corruption is and have very strong polices and guidelines on how to manage the issue when exporting."