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CORRUPTION, Accountability, and Transparency / Vol. 80, No. 4 (Winter 2013)

January 1, 2014

Arien Mack, Editor 

 

Corruption is both a pressing contemporary issue that characterizes aspects of our social and political world and an enduring problem. It has been a corrosive part of political and social life for a very long time, and is an unfortunate part of our contemporary global and national life. The authors in this issue look at questions of what corruption is and means, and at potential consequences and solutions.

 

Table of Contents

 

Matt Congdon

Endangered Scholars Worldwide

The information in this report is current, to the best of our knowledge, as of December 1, 2013. Additional information and more recent information about many of these cases, as well as sample letters of protest, may be found on our website and on our Facebook page. Please like us and follow our posts.

 

Arien Mack 
Editor's Introduction

Corruption, as the papers by Alan Ryan and James Jacobs illuminate, has been a corrosive part of political and social life for a very long time, and as many other papers in the issue make clear, it is an unfortunate part of our contemporary global and national life.

 

Alan Ryan 
Conceptions of Corruption, Its Causes, and Its Cures

Corruption was an obsession of 18th century political theorists, and the target of radicals of all stripes at the end of the century. The obverse of the coin was a perhaps too uncritical worship of the stern republicans of ancient Rome and Sparta—the latter being notoriously open to bribes, and as greedy as the next man when not at home under the watchful eyes of their fellows. I begin with Mandeville, whose Fable of the Bees emphasized the good effects of our less admirable desires, and the bad effects to be expected of any return to ancient austerity—a proto-Keynesian argument; I then explore Hume's defense of the balance achieved in British constitutional arrangements by essentially corrupt methods which enabled the monarchy to counterbalance the populist pressures of parliament by offering sinecures and near-sinecures—'jobbery,' to put it briefly. Then I turn to the counterargument, essentially to Bentham's arguments for an inquisitorial political system in which every government officer would be exposed to scrutiny; here the notion of transparency begins to do some work, because Bentham's claim that any committee that was not an inquisition would be a screen rests on the thought that making government visible is the essential step to making it both cheap and honest.

 

Debra Satz
Markets, Privatization, and Corruption

How might concerns about the privatization of government services relate to corruption? I distinguish three conceptions of corruption and highlight their different implications for the privatization of such traditional government services as military services, security and prisons.

 

Bo Rothstein
Corruption and Social Trust: Why the Fish Rots from Head Down

Social trust has been shown to have a number of positive effects. Societies in which a large part of the population believes that “in general, most people can be trusted” have higher levels of prosperity, better working democratic institutions and scores higher on almost all standard measures of human well-being. Yet, the main theory of how social trust is generated which pointed at activity in civil society organizations has been empirically refuted. In this article, an alternative theory is presented pointing at the importance of impartial, un-corrupt and fair government institutions for generating social trust. This “corruption-trust” theory is supported by a number of recent empirical studies. As the theory predicts, low levels of social trust is mainly generated by partisan, corrupt and unfair government institutions implying that “the fish roots from the head down”.

 

Richard White
What Counts as Corruption?

I will talk on the evolution of corruption from largely the exchange of money, property, and other tangible things for positions or favors to the sharing of privileged information that can be turned into more tangible objects through financial and other markets. How historically to mark the rise of insider information will be the subtext of the talk.

 

James B. Jacobs
Is Labor Union Corruption Special?

Corruption is a general term that encompasses, and masks, different kinds of breaches of trust and breaches of fiduciary duty. The conference at which the articles appearing in this volume were presented focused mainly on governmental officials in the developing world soliciting or accepting bribes to award contracts, licenses, and other benefits to foreign-based companies. All contributors recognize, however, that everyday internal domestic corruption (sometimes called “petty corruption”) is part of the culture that sustains high-level corruption (sometimes called “grand corruption”), and that corruption is, in many ways, as significant a problem in the developed world as it is in the developing world. One corruption context in the United States is the long history of corruption by labor union officials who extract rents from unions in violation of the rights and interests of union members. We suggest that corruption as a field of study would benefit from specialized subfields that document and analyze corruption patterns in different social, political, and economic contexts, such as health care, insurance, banking, charity, education, politics, and, as discussed here, labor.

 

John Krinsky
The New Tammany Hall? Welfare, Public-Sector Unions, Corruption, and Neoliberal Policy Regimes

This article addresses the ways in which neoliberal governance is constituted through networks of actors, organizations, policy ideas, and rhetorical justifications—what we can call a “neoliberal policy regime.” I outline both the contours of these regimes in general, and discuss the ways in which they have developed since the 1970s, a moment at which public-sector collective bargaining became generalized and in which urban fiscal crises began to open opportunities for the neoliberal reordering of urban policy. I will then discuss the episodes of welfare reform in Wisconsin and New York, and follow this with an analysis of rent-seeking networks. I then return to a discussion of how these policy regimes intervened in debates about public-sector unions fifteen years after the passage of federal welfare reform. In so doing, I will argue that in formal terms, we should expect actors in policy networks and policy regimes to seek advantages: that’s what politics is. But we can still trace the substantive consequences to others and private advantages derived by these actors as they engage in the policy process, and judge the ways in which charges of self-serving activity and corruption “play” in and through these regimes.

 

Sheila Krumholz
Campaign Cash and Corruption: Money in Politics Post Citizens United

What is money's role in, and influence on, American politics? What is the history and impact of lobbying, the revolving door, and outside spending, now commonly referred to as "dark money," on politics and policy? This paper reviews the trends, sums, sources and beneficiaries of political finance over recent decades, in the 2012 presidential election cycle, and in the current cycle, and the changes that may be expected in the upcoming 2016 presidential election cycle and beyond.

 

Alena V. Ledeneva
Russia’s Practical Norms and Informal Governance: The Origins of Endemic Corruption

Corruption in Russia is of endemic nature. This article traces its roots to traditional practices that formed a foundation of the present-day system of governance, often referred to as ‘sistema’. It demonstrates how the logic of ‘feeding,’ ‘joint responsibility’ and ‘Potemkin villages’ is reproduced in the reliance of Putin’s network-based governance system on such instruments as undeclared incentives, informal affiliations, hidden agendas and warning signals. Putin’s sistema gives dynamism to government’s economic and political projects by engaging personalized influence, but at the same time its informal and non-transparent nature creates a fertile ground for corruption and makes its mitigation difficult. I argue that corruption it Russia could not be effectively managed unless its leaders understand the system of governance they operate in and articulate its consequences, of which endemic corruption is one of the most devastating for the country.

 

Leslie Holmes
Post-Communist Transitions and Corruption: Mapping Patterns

While corruption exists throughout post-communist Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, the situation has in recent years improved in some countries while deteriorating in others. This article maps the corruption patterns, both in terms of where the problem is more and less acute, and regarding apparent bivariate correlations. While most of the latter are more or less in line with global patterns - wealthier and more democratic countries appear to have lower corruption rates, for instance - there are also some surprises. Thus Russia emerges as more corrupt than its GDP per capita would suggest it should be, while Georgia performs far better than would be expected. A key factor explaining deviant cases is the political will of the leadership combined with that leadership’s control of the political system; political will is a necessary but insufficient condition.

 

Mark Ungar
The Rot Within: Security and Corruption in Latin America

This article asserts that the biggest source of corruption in the democratizing world is through connections between the state security sector and the non-state armed sectors, who build on lucrative international trades, state resources, and democracy’s institutional weaknesses. With a focus on Latin America, it creates a framework for understanding this contemporary form of corruption by looking at security structures, the security economy, and judicial systems.

 

Andrew Wedeman

The Dark Side of Business with Chinese Characteristics

Corruption is often defined as the use of public authority for private gain. In this conception, corruption is a political pathology because it involves government officials and politicians. Official corruption does not, however, occur in a vacuum. On the contrary, corruption often involves exchanges between officials and private citizens. 

 

Michael Johnston
More than Necessary, Less than Sufficient: Democratization and the Control of Corruption

Corruption has often been defined as the use of authority for private gain, with authority frequently assumed to defined as official authority. Private actors, including corporate officers, can also exercise the authority granted them by a firm or other organization for improper private gain. Not only can private parties engage in corrupt transactions with public officials, they may also engage in corrupt transactions with other private parties, thus creating a form of “private corruption” that has been largely ignored, even though the presence of private-to-private corruption likely contributes to both private-to-public and public-to-public corruption. Evidence exists, in fact, of extensive inter-business in China and hence the presence of a corporate “culture of corruption.”

 

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi
Becoming Denmark: Historical Designs of Corruption Control

Corruption in Russia is of endemic nature. This article traces its roots to traditional practices that formed a foundation of the present-day system of governance, often referred to as ‘sistema’. It demonstrates how the logic of ‘feeding,’ ‘joint responsibility’ and ‘Potemkin villages’ is reproduced in the reliance of Putin’s network-based governance system on such instruments as undeclared incentives, informal affiliations, hidden agendas and warning signals. Putin’s sistema gives dynamism to government’s economic and political projects by engaging personalized influence, but at the same time its informal and non-transparent nature creates a fertile ground for corruption and makes its mitigation difficult. I argue that corruption it Russia could not be effectively managed unless its leaders understand the system of governance they operate in and articulate its consequences, of which endemic corruption is one of the most devastating for the country.

 

Peter Eigen
International Corruption: Organized Civil Society for Better Global Governance

International corruption is both a result and a cause of failing global governance. Our present paradigm of governing the globalized economy is essentially built on national governments. These have lost their capacity to guarantee a coherent and fair global governance system. Therefore, new actors have to complement these traditional actors. Based on the experience of civil society organizations supporting governments and business in controlling corruption, this paper argues that CSOs can take on a more powerful role in other areas of failing governance—such as environmental destruction, human rights violations, breach of decent labor standards—to offer a new approach to a more just, more peaceful, more prosperous and better world.

 

 

 

 

 

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