Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 147–164 | Cite as

The limitations of neoliberal logic in the anti-corruption industry: Lessons from Papua New Guinea

  • Grant W. Walton


To acknowledge concerns about the rising power of the private sector, key international anti-corruption organisations have supported initiatives that emphasise the role that businesses play in corruption. Yet the way these initiatives have impacted the practices and perceptions of anti-corruption organisations in developing countries has received scant attention. As businesses can be key perpetrators of corruption, understanding the way anti-corruption organisations respond to the private sector can highlight the efficacy of anti-corruption efforts. Drawing on interviews with anti-corruption policy makers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) conducted between 2008 and 2009, this article shows how two international anti-corruption organisations perceived and worked with the private sector. It finds that there have been some initiatives designed to address, and raise awareness about private sector corruption in the country, reflecting international trends. At the same time the private sector is viewed, often uncritically, as an anti-corruption champion; this has affected the way anti-corruption organisations engage with businesses operating in the country. This article argues that despite a change in international discourse about the private sector’s role in corruption, in developing countries like PNG, neoliberal logic about the nature of the state still guide anti-corruption activity. These findings have implications for the efficacy of international anti-corruption efforts.


Private Sector Economic Freedom Asian Development Bank Transparency International Government Corruption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to Jon Barnett, Monica Minnegal and Leslie Holmes of the University of Melbourne for their suggestions on early versions of this article. Many thanks to Jennifer Lake and Anna Walton for editing advice. I also thank the people at AusAID and Transparency International Papua New Guinea for participating in my research. I remain responsible for the end result. The author has consulted for Transparency International Papua New Guinea in the past.


  1. 1.
    Ali, A., & Isse, H. (2003). Determinants of economic corruption: a cross-country comparison. Cato Journal, 22(3), 449–466.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Asian Development Bank. (2012). Finding balance: Benchmarking the performance of state-owned enterprises in Papua New Guinea. Sydney: Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    AusAID. (2006). Democratic governance in Papua New Guinea: Draft strategy and program concept design for peer review. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    AusAID. (2007). Tackling corruption for growth and development: A policy for Australian development assistance on anti-corruption. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    AusAID. (2008). Governance annual thematic performance report 2007–08. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    AusAID. (2009). Australian Agency for International Development annual report 08–09. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    AusAID. (2009). Papua New Guinea: Strongim pipol strongim nesen (empower people: Strengthen the nation)–program design document. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    AusAID. (2011). Fraud control at AusAID: Fact sheet. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    AusAID. (2011). Fraud policy statement. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Australian Conservation Foundation and CELCoR. (2006). Bulldozing progress: Human rights abuses and corruption in Papua New Guinea’s large scale logging industry. Port Moresby and Melbourne: Australian Conservation Foundation and CELCoR.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Australian Government. (2012). Australia’s submission to the Rio+20 compilation document United Nations. Accessed 16 July 2012.
  12. 12.
    Australian Government Department of Resources. (2013). EITI pilot and progress: Summary update. Accessed 2 March 2013.
  13. 13.
    Barker, P., & Awili, S. (2007). The business and investment conditions in PNG in 2007: A private sector survey. In P. Barker (Ed.), Seminar on private sector and investment (pp. 9–54). Port Moresby: Institute of National Affairs.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Barnett, T. E. (1989). Report of the commission of inquiry into aspects of the forest industry. Port Moresby: Government of Papua New Guinea.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Beder, S. (2001). Privatisation in PNG, Engineers Australia. September, (p. 30).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Brown, E., & Cloke, J. (2004). Neoliberal reform, governance and corruption in the south: assessing the international anti-corruption crusade. Antipode, 36(2), 272–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Brown, E., & Cloke, J. (2005). Neoliberal reform, governance and corruption in Central America: exploring the Nicaraguan case. Political Geography, 24(5), 601–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Brown, E., & Cloke, J. (2006). The critical business of corruption. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 2(4), 275–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Brown, E., & Cloke, J. (2011). Critical perspectives on corruption: an overview. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 7(2), 116–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Burton, J. (1999). BHP admits Ok Tedi mine is environmental disaster. Asia Times Online Accessed 13 August 2012.
  21. 21.
    Center for International Private Enterprise. (2010). 2009 annual report. Center for International Private Enterprise.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Curtin, T. (2009). Privatization policy in Papua New Guinea. In R. J. May (Ed.), Policy making and implementation: Studies from Papua New Guinea (pp. 345–368). Canberra: ANU EPress.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    de Maria, W. (2005). The new war on African “corruption”: Just another neo-colonial adventure?. 4th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    de Maria, W. (2008). Cross cultural trespass: assessing African anti-corruption capacity. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 8(3), 317–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Development Co-operation Directorate. (n.d.). DAC glossary of key terms and concepts: Technical cooperation.,3343,en_2649_33721_42632800_1_1_1_1,00.html#TC. Accessed 9 September 2012.
  26. 26.
    Dinnen, S. (2001). Law and order in a weak state: Crime and politics in Papa New Guinea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Dix, S., & Gelu, A. (2009). Asia and the Pacific: Papua New Guinea. In Transparency International (Ed.), Global corruption report 2009: Corruption and the private sector (pp. 285–289). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Duncan, R. (2011). Telecommunications in Papua New Guinea. In APEC Policy Support Unit (Ed.), The ompacts and benefits of structural reforms in transport, energy and telecommunications sectors (pp. 433–445). Singapore: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fox, L. (2009). Corruption ‘rife’ in PNG private sector. Accessed 29 April 2012.
  30. 30.
    Glastra, R. (1999). Cut and run: Illegal logging and timber trade in the tropics. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Goel, R., & Nelson, M. (2005). Economic freedom versus political freedom: cross-country influences on corruption. Australian Economic Papers, 44(2), 121–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Gosarevski, S., Hughes, H., & Windybank, S. (2004). Is Papua New Guinea viable? Pacific Economic Bulletin, 19(1), 134–148.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Greenpeace. (2005). The untouchables: Rimbunan Hijau’s world of forest crime and political patronage. Amsterdam: Greenpeace.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hindess, B. (2005). Review essay: investigating international anti-corruption. Third World Quarterly, 26(8), 1389–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Holmes, L. (2006). Networks and linkages: Corruption, organised crime, corporate crime and terrorism. How to weaken the link: International anti-corruption conference 12, 15–18 November: Guatemala City.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Holmes, L. (2006). Rotten states? corruption, post-communism and neoliberalism. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Huffer, E. (2005). Governance, corruption and ethics in the Pacific. The Contemporary Pacific, 17(1), 118–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hughes, H. (2004). Can Papua New Guinea come back from the brink? Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Hutchinson, F. (2005). A review to donor agency approaches to anti-corruption. Asian Pacific School of Economics and Government Discussion Papers. Canberra: Asian Pacific School of Economics and Government, Australian National University.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Independent Review Team. (2010). Review of the PNG-Australia development cooperation treaty (1999). Canberra and Port Moresby: AusAID.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    International Monetary Fund. (2012). IMF executive board concludes 2012 article IV consultation with Papua New Guinea. Accessed 4 July 2012.
  43. 43.
    ITS Global Asia Pacific. (2007). Report for Rimbunan Hijau (PNG) group. Melbourne: ITS Global Asia Pacific.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ives, D., Midire, C., & Heijkoop, P. (2004). Governance in PNG: A cluster evaluation of three public sector reform activities. Canberra: AusAID.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Johnson, P. (2012). Lode shedding: A case study of the economic benefits to the landowners, the provincial government and the state, from the Porgera Gold Mine: Background and financial flows from the mine. Port Moresby: National Research Institute.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Kaman, J. (2003). Papua New Guinea: Privatisation of water–“Eda Ranu”. Civil society consultation on the 2003 commonwealth finance ministers meeting. Brunei: Commonwealth Foundation.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kaufmann, D., Kraay, A., Mastruzzi, M. (2010). World wide governance indicators: Papua New Guinea., Accessed 12 October 2012.
  48. 48.
    Kaufmann, D., Kraay, A., Mastruzzi, M. (2010). The worldwide governance indicators methodology and analytical issues. Policy Research Working Paper. Washington: The World Bank Development Research Group Macroeconomics and Growth Team.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Kavanamur, D. (2001). The interplay between politics and business in Papua New Guinea. State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project Working Paper. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Keane, B. (2010). Who profits from our foreign aid?: The ‘technical assistance’ making business rich. Accessed 12 July 2012.
  51. 51.
    Krastev, I. (2004). Shifting obsessions: Three essays on the politics of anticorruption. Budapest: CEU Press.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Larmour, P. (1997). Corruption and governance in the South Pacific. State Society and Governance in Melanesia Working Paper, Canberra: Australian National University.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Larmour, P. (2005). Corruption and accountability in the Pacific islands. Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government Discussion Papers, 05–10, Canberra: Australian National University.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Lattas, A. (2011). Logging, violence and pleasure: neoliberalism, civil society and corporate governance in West New Britain. Oceania, 81(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Laurance, W.F., Kakul, T., Keenan, R.J., Sayer, J., Passingan, S., Clements, G.R., Villegas, F., & Sodhi, N.S. (2011). Predatory corporations, failing governance, and the fate of forests in Papua New Guinea. Conservation Letters, 4(2), 95–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Marshall, I. E. (2001). A survey of corruption issues in the mining and mineral sector. London: Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Project.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    May, R. (2009). Policy making and implementation: Studies from Papua New Guinea. Canberra: ANU EPress.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Murphy, J. (2011). Capitalism and transparency. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 7(2), 125–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Office of Development Effectiveness. (2007). Approaches to anti-corruption through the Australian aid program: Lessons from PNG, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. Canberra: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Ohnesorge, J.K.M. (1999). Ratcheting up the anti-corruption drive: could a look at recent history cure a case of theory-determinism? Connecticut Journal of International Law, 14(1), 467–473.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea. (2001). Investigations practice manual. Port Moresby: Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Pelto, M. (2007). Civil society and the national integrity system in Papua New Guinea. Pacific Economic Bulletin, 22(1), 54–69.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Pitts, M. (2001). Crime and corruption–does Papua New Guinea have the capacity to control it? Pacific Economic Bulletin, 16(2), 127–134.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Pitts, M. (2002). Crime, corruption and capacity in Papua New Guinea. Canberra: Asia Pacific Press.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Post-Courier. (2003). NPF inquiry findings. Post Courier. Accessed 2 July 2007.
  66. 66.
    Post-Courier. (2008). T.I. Blasts Govt action (p. 6). Port Moresby: Post-Courier.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Post-Courier. (2009). TI lashes funds misuse (p. 5). Port Moresby: Post Courier.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Post-Courier. (2009). TIPNG queries about Namah (p. 1). Port Moresby: Post-Courier.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Publish What You Pay. (2011). Papua New Guinea: Recent activities. Accessed 4 July 2012.
  70. 70.
    Roberts, G. (2006). The rape of PNG’s forests.,20867,19565361-30417,00.html. Accessed 24 June 2012.
  71. 71.
    Rocha, L.J., Brown, E., & Cloke, J. (2011). Of legitimate and illegitimate corruption: bankruptcies in Nicaragua. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 7(2), 159–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Szeftel, M. (1998). Misunderstanding African politics: corruption and the governance agenda. Review of African Political Economy, 25(76), 221–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    The Asia-Pacific Action Group. (1990). The Barnett report: A summary of the report of the commission of inquiry into aspects of the timber industry in Papua New Guinea. Hobart: The Asia-Pacific Action Group.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Theobald, R. (1990). Corruption, development and underdevelopment. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Transparency International. (n.d.). About us. Accessed 24 October 2011.
  76. 76.
    Transparency International Papua New Guinea. (2009). Annual report 2008. Port Moresby: Transparency International Papua New Guinea.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    United Nations Development Program. (2009). PNG businesses fight corruption. Port Moresby: United Nations Development Program.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    United Nations Development Program. (2009). Tacking corruption, transforming lives: Accelerating human development in Asia and the Pacific. New Delhi: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Williams, R. (1999). New concepts for old? Third World Quarterly, 20(3), 503–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Williams, J., & Beare, M. (1999). The business of bribery: globalization, economic liberalization, and the “problem” of corruption. Crime, Law and Social Change, 32(2), 115–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    World Bank. (2007). Strengthening World Bank Group engagement on governance and anti-corruption. Washington: World Bank.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    World Bank. (2011). World wide governance indicators: Papua New Guinea. Accessed 12 July 2012.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Policy CentreAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia
  2. 2.Crawford School of Public PolicyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations