Advertisement

Approaches to Corruption: a Synthesis of the Scholarship

  • Monica PrasadEmail author
  • Mariana Borges Martins da Silva
  • Andre Nickow
Article

Abstract

The scholarly literature on corruption has developed in separate disciplines, each of which has produced important insights, but each of which also has some crucial limitations. We bring these existing approaches together, and then we confront them against an ethnographic literature on corruption that over the last two decades has become extensive, but has never before been synthesized into an overarching framework. We argue that any corruption reform must meet three challenges. First, corruption persists because people need to engage in corruption to meet their needs. This is the resource challenge. Second, corruption persists because there is uncertainty over what constitutes a gift and what constitutes a bribe, as well as confusion over what is private and what is public. This is the definitional challenge. And third, corruption persists because of pressure to behave in ways that are considered moral according to alternative criteria, such as taking care of one’s kin, or standing up to legacies of racism and oppression. This is the alternative moralities challenge. We examine the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches to corruption in meeting these three challenges.

Keywords

Corruption Principal-agent models Collective action models Organizations Ethnography 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For comments on earlier versions of this article we are grateful to the participants of the Northwestern Corruption Workshop, October 2016, and the staff of the USAID Center for Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. We particularly thank the other members of our literature review team: Jordan Gans-Morse, Theresa Mannah-Blankson, Alexey Makarin, Dong Zhang, and especially Vanessa Watters, who helped to review the ethnographic scholarship.

References

  1. Acconcia A, Cantabene C. A Big Push To Deter Corruption: Evidence from Italy. Giornale Degli Economisti E Annali Di Economia. 2008; 67(Anno 121)(1):75–102.Google Scholar
  2. Anand N. Leaky states: water audits, ignorance, and the politics of infrastructure. Publ Cult. 2015;27(2 76):305–30.  https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2841880.Google Scholar
  3. Anders G. In the shadow of good governance: an ethnography of civil service reform in Africa. In: In the shadow of good governance: an ethnography of civil service reform, 16:1–167. Pa Leiden: E J Brill. 2010.Google Scholar
  4. Anechiarico F, Jacobs JB. Visions of corruption control and the evolution of American public administration. Public Adm Rev. 1994;54(5):465–73.Google Scholar
  5. Armantier O, Boly A. A controlled field experiment on corruption. Eur Econ Rev. 2011;55(8):1072–82.Google Scholar
  6. Avenarius CB, Zhao X. To Bribe Or Not To Bribe: Comparing Perceptions About Justice, Morality, And Inequality Among Rural And Urban Chinese. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development; 2012. p. 247–291.Google Scholar
  7. Banerjee A, Duflo E, Imbert C, Mathew S, Pande R. Can E-Governance Reduce Capture of Public Programs? Experimental Evidence from a Financial Reform of India’s Employment Guarantee. 2014.Google Scholar
  8. Basu K. Why, for a Class of Bribes, the Act of Giving a Bribe should be Treated as Legal. Ministry of Finance Government of India Working Paper No. 1/2011-DEA (March 2011)Google Scholar
  9. Blundo G, de Sardan J-PO, Arifari NB, Alou MT. Everyday corruption and the state: citizens and public officials in Africa. Cape Town: Zed Books; 2006.Google Scholar
  10. Bodenhorn H. Bank Chartering and Political Corruption in Antebellum New York. Free Banking as Reform. In: Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin (eds.), Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pp. 231–258. University of Chicago Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  11. Bukuluki P. ‘When I steal, it is for the benefit of me and you’: is collectivism engendering corruption in Uganda? Int Lett Soc Humanistic Sci. 2013;5:27–44.Google Scholar
  12. Caplan L. Cash and kind: two media of ‘bribery’ in Nepal. Man. 1971;6(2):266.Google Scholar
  13. Charron N. Exploring the impact of foreign aid on corruption: has the ‘Anti-Corruption Movement’ been effective? Dev Econ. 2011;49(1):66–88.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-1049.2010.00122.x.Google Scholar
  14. Chew DCE. Internal adjustments to falling civil service salaries: insights from Uganda. World Dev. 1990;18(7):1003–14.Google Scholar
  15. Collier P. How to reduce corruption. Afr Dev Rev. 2000;12(2):191–205.Google Scholar
  16. Das V. Corruption and the Possibility of Life. 2015. http://cis.sagepub.com/content/49/3/322.short. Accessed 22 June 2016.
  17. Davis J. Corruption in public service delivery: experience from South Asia’s water and sanitation sector. World Dev. 2004;32(1):53–71.Google Scholar
  18. De Sardan JPO. A moral economy of corruption in Africa? J Mod Afr Stud. 1999;37(1):25–52.Google Scholar
  19. De Sousa L, Hindess B, Larmour P, eds. Governments, NGOs and Anti-Corruption: the new integrity warriors. Routledge, 2012.Google Scholar
  20. de Vries PA . The Orchestration of Corruption and Excess Enjoyment in Western Mexico. In: Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company; 2007. p. 143–63. http://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/wurpubs/359121.
  21. DFID. Why Corruption Matters: Understanding Causes, Effects and How To Address Them. 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/406346/corruption-evidence-paper-why-corruption-matters.pdf.
  22. Ekeh PP. Colonialism and the two publics in Africa: a theoretical statement. Comp Stud Soc Hist. 1975;17(1):91–112.Google Scholar
  23. Elbahnasawy NG. E-government, internet adoption, and corruption: an empirical investigation. World Dev. 2014;57:114–26.Google Scholar
  24. Endres KW. Making law: small-scale trade and corrupt exceptions at the Vietnam–China border. Am Anthropol. 2014;116(3):611–25.Google Scholar
  25. Enweremadu DU. Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria (1999–2007): The Politics of a Failed Reform. African Studies Centre; 2012. http://www.ascleiden.nl/publications/anti-corruption-campaign-nigeria-1999-2007-politics-failed-reform.
  26. Fisman R, Svensson J. Are corruption and taxation really harmful to growth? Firm level evidence. J Dev Econ. 2007;83(1):63–75.Google Scholar
  27. Fjeldstad O-H. Fighting fiscal corruption: lessons from the Tanzania revenue authority. Public Adm Dev. 2003;23(2):165–75.  https://doi.org/10.1002/pad.278.Google Scholar
  28. Fjeldstad O-H, Isaksen J. Anti-corruption reforms: challenges, effects and limits of World Bank support. Background paper to public sector reform: what works and why? An IEG evaluation of World Bank support. an IEG evaluation of World Bank support. IEG Working Paper 7. 2008. p. 92.Google Scholar
  29. Foltz JD, Opoku-Agyemang KA. Do higher salaries lower petty corruption? A policy experiment on West Africa’s highways. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; 2015.Google Scholar
  30. Gans-Morse J, Borges M, Makarin A, Mannah-Blankson T, Nickow A, Zhang D. Reducing bureaucratic corruption: interdisciplinary perspectives on what works. World Dev. 2018;105:171–88.Google Scholar
  31. Gilbert J-A, Sharman JC. Turning a blind eye to bribery: explaining failures to comply with the international anti-corruption regime. Pol Stud. 2016;64(1):74–89.Google Scholar
  32. Gray HS. The political economy of grand corruption in Tanzania. Afr Aff. 2015;114(456):382–403.Google Scholar
  33. Gupta A. Blurred boundaries: the discourse of corruption, the culture of politics, and the imagined state. Am Ethnol. 1995;22(2):375–402.Google Scholar
  34. Gupta A. Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India. 2012 edition. Durham: Duke University Press Books; 2012.Google Scholar
  35. Gupta S, Davoodi H, Alonso-Terme R. Does corruption affect inequality and poverty? International Monetary Fund; 1998.Google Scholar
  36. Gupta S, Davoodi H, Alonso-Terme R. Does corruption affect income inequality and poverty?. Econ Gov. 2002;3(1):23–45.Google Scholar
  37. Hanlon J. Do donors promote corruption?: the case of Mozambique. Third World Q. 2004;25(4):747–63.Google Scholar
  38. Harling P, Mandler P. From “fiscal-military” state to laissez-faire state, 1760–1850. J Br Stud. 1993;32(1):44-70.Google Scholar
  39. Hasty J. The pleasures of corruption: desire and discipline in Ghanaian political culture. Cult Anthropol. 2005;20(2):271–301.Google Scholar
  40. Heidenheimer AJ. The topography of corruption. Int Soc Sci J. 1996;48(3):337–47.Google Scholar
  41. Heilman B, Ndumbaro L. Corruption, politics, and societal values in Tanzania: an evaluation of the Mkapa Administration’s anti-corruption efforts. Afr J Polit Sci/Revue Africaine de Science Politique. 2002;7(1):1–19.Google Scholar
  42. Hetherington K. Peasants, experts, clients, and soybeans: the fixing of Paraguay’s civil service. Curr Anthropol. 2018;59(S18):S171–81.Google Scholar
  43. Hira A, Shiao K. Understanding the deep roots of success in effective civil services. J Dev Soc. 2016;32(1):17–43.Google Scholar
  44. Isaksson A-S. Corruption along ethnic lines: a study of individual corruption experiences in 17 African countries. J Dev Stud. 2015;51(1):80–92.Google Scholar
  45. Jancsics D. Petty corruption in central and Eastern Europe: the client’s perspective. Crime Law Soc Chang. 2013;60(3):319–41.Google Scholar
  46. Jancsics D. Interdisciplinary perspectives on corruption. Sociol Compass. 2014;8(4):358–72.Google Scholar
  47. Jeffrey C. Caste, class, and clientelism: a political economy of everyday corruption in rural North India. Econ Geogr. 2002;78(1):21.Google Scholar
  48. Johnson MC. Democracy and the emergence of meritocratic bureaucracies: explaining variation in the Senegalese state. Dissertation, Berkeley: University of California; 2009.Google Scholar
  49. Johnston M. Fighting systemic corruption: social foundations for institutional reform. Eur J Dev Res. 1998;10(1):85–104.Google Scholar
  50. Jusionyte I. States of camouflage. Cult Anthropol. 2015;30(1):113–38.Google Scholar
  51. Kajsiu B. The birth of corruption and the politics of anti-corruption in Albania, 1991–2005. Natl Pap. 2013;41(6):1008–25.Google Scholar
  52. Kang DC. Bad loans to good friends: money politics and the developmental state in South Korea. Int Organ. 2002;56(1):177–207.Google Scholar
  53. Kernell S, McDonald MP. Congress and America’s political development. Am J Polit Sci. 1999;43(3):792–811.Google Scholar
  54. Khan MH. Markets, states and democracy: patron–client networks and the case for democracy in developing countries. Democratization. 2005;12(5):704–24.Google Scholar
  55. Klitgaard R. Controlling corruption. By Robert Klitgaard. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1988.Google Scholar
  56. Ledeneva, Alena V. Russia's economy of favours: Blat, networking and informal exchange. Vol. 102. Cambridge University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  57. Ledeneva A. From Russia with ‘Blat’: can informal networks help modernize Russia? Soc Res. 2009:257–88.Google Scholar
  58. Lewis-Faupel S, Neggers Y, Olken BA, Pande R. Can electronic procurement improve infrastructure provision? Evidence from public works in India and Indonesia. Am Econ J Econ Pol, 2016.Google Scholar
  59. Mathur N. Transparent-Making Documents and the Crisis of Implementation: A Rural Employment Law and Development Bureaucracy in India. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 2012;35(2):167–85.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1555-2934.2012.01197.x.
  60. McDonnell EM. Patchwork leviathan: how pockets of bureaucratic governance flourish within institutionally diverse developing states. Am Sociol Rev. 2017;82(3):476–510.Google Scholar
  61. McMann KM. Corruption as a last resort: adapting to the market in Central Asia. Cornell University Press; 2014.Google Scholar
  62. McMullan M. A theory of corruption: based on a consideration of corruption in the public services and governments of British colonies and ex-colonies in West Africa. Sociol Rev. 1961;9(2):181–201.Google Scholar
  63. Méon P-G, Sekkat K. Does corruption grease or sand the wheels of growth? Public Choice. 2005;122(1):69–97.Google Scholar
  64. Miller WL, Grødeland ÅB, Koshechkina TY. A culture of corruption?: coping with government in post-communist Europe. Central European University Press; 2001.Google Scholar
  65. Mistree DFA. Understanding Meritocracy: A Study of Higher Education Institutions in India. Ph.D., Princeton University; 2015. http://search.proquest.com.turing.library.northwestern.edu/pqdtglobal/docview/1725903678/abstract/889067AE307349F4PQ/1.
  66. Mo PH. Corruption and economic growth. J Comp Econ. 2001;29(1):66–79.Google Scholar
  67. Mungiu-Pippidi A. Contextual choices in fighting corruption: lessons learned. Report no. 4/2011. Norad: Oslo; 2011.Google Scholar
  68. Mungiu-Pippidi A. Becoming Denmark: historical designs of corruption control. Soc Res: Int Q. 2013;80(4):1259–86.Google Scholar
  69. Mungiu-Pippidi A. The quest for good governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  70. Muñoz J-M. Making Contracts Public in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. City & Society. 2014:26(2):175–95.  https://doi.org/10.1111/ciso.12039.
  71. Muralidharan K, Niehaus P, Sukhtankar S. Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India. Am Econ Rev. 2016.Google Scholar
  72. Nagavarapu S, Sekhri S. Informal monitoring and enforcement mechanisms in public service delivery: evidence from the public distribution system in India. J Dev Econ. 2016;121:63–78.Google Scholar
  73. North DC, Wallis JJ, Weingast BR. Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge University Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  74. Olken BA. Corruption and the costs of redistribution: micro evidence from Indonesia. J Public Econ. 2006;90(4):853–70.Google Scholar
  75. Olken BA. Monitoring corruption: evidence from a field experiment in Indonesia. J Polit Econ. 2007;115(2):200–49.Google Scholar
  76. Olken BA, Pande R. Corruption in developing countries. Annu Rev Econ. (2012);4(1):479–509.Google Scholar
  77. Osburg J. Making business personal: corruption, anti-corruption, and elite networks in post-Mao China. Curr Anthropol. 2018;59(S18):S149–59.  https://doi.org/10.1086/695831.Google Scholar
  78. Parrillo NR. Against the Profit Motive: The Salary Revolution in American Government, 1780–1940. Yale University Press; 2013.Google Scholar
  79. Pathak RD, Naz R, Rahman MH, Smith RFI, Agarwal KN. E-governance to cut corruption in public service delivery: a case study of Fiji. Int J Public Adm. 2009;32(5):415–37.Google Scholar
  80. Persson A, Rothstein B, Teorell J. Why anticorruption reforms fail—systemic corruption as a collective action problem. Governance. 2013;26(3):449–71.Google Scholar
  81. Philp M. Peacebuilding and corruption. Int Peacekeeping. 2008;15(3):310–27.Google Scholar
  82. Polese A. ‘If I receive it, it is a gift; if I demand it, then it is a bribe’: on the local meaning of economic transactions in post-soviet Ukraine. Anthropol Action. 2008;15(3):47–60.Google Scholar
  83. Popa M. Elites and corruption: a theory of endogenous reform and a test using British data. World Politics. 2015;67(2):313–52.Google Scholar
  84. Prasad M, Nickow A. Mechanisms of the ‘aid curse’: lessons from South Korea and Pakistan. J Dev Stud. 2016;52(11):1612–27.Google Scholar
  85. Quah JST. Anti-corruption agencies in four Asian countries: a comparative analysis. Int Public Manag Rev. 2007;8(2):73–96.Google Scholar
  86. Reeves M. Clean fake: authenticating documents and persons in migrant Moscow. Am Ethnol. 2013;40(3):508–24.Google Scholar
  87. Reinikka R, Svensson J. Local capture: evidence from a central government transfer program in Uganda. Q J Econ. 2004;119(2):679–705.Google Scholar
  88. Rivkin-Fish M. Bribes, gifts and unofficial payments: rethinking corruption in post-soviet Russian health care. In: Haller D, Shore C, editors. Corruption: anthropological perspectives. London: Pluto Press; 2005. p. 47–64.Google Scholar
  89. Roll M editor. The Politics of Public Sector Performance: Pockets of effectiveness in developing countries. Routledge; 2014.Google Scholar
  90. Rose-Ackerman S. Corruption: a study in political economy. New York: Academic Press; 1978.Google Scholar
  91. Rose-Ackerman S, Palifka BJ. Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform. Cambridge University Press; 2016.Google Scholar
  92. Rothstein B. Anti-corruption: the indirect ‘big bang’ approach. Rev Int Polit Econ. 2011;18(2):228–50.Google Scholar
  93. Rothstein B, Torsello D. Bribery in preindustrial societies. J Anthropol Res. 2014;70(2):263–84.Google Scholar
  94. Ruud AE. Corruption as everyday practice. The public—private divide in local Indian society. Forum Dev Stud. 2000;27(2):271–94.Google Scholar
  95. Schatzberg MG. Political Legitimacy in Middle Africa: Father, Family, Food. Indiana University Press; 2001.Google Scholar
  96. Schueth S. Apparatus of capture: fiscal state formation in the republic of Georgia. Polit Geogr. 2012;31(3):133–43.Google Scholar
  97. Schulze GG, Frank B. Deterrence versus intrinsic motivation: experimental evidence on the determinants of corruptibility. Econ Gov. 2003;4(2):143–60.Google Scholar
  98. Seaward P. Sleaze, old corruption and parliamentary reform: an historical perspective on the current crisis. The Polit Q. 2010;81(1):39–48.Google Scholar
  99. Sedlenieks K. Rotten Talk: Corruption as Part of Discourse in Contemporary Latvia. In: Pardo I editor Between Morality and the Law: Corruption, Anthropology and Comparative Society. Ashgate; 2004. p 119–34.Google Scholar
  100. Shore C. Culture and corruption in the EU: reflections on fraud, nepotism and cronyism in the European Commission. In: Shore C, Haller D, editors. Corruption: anthropological perspectives. London: Pluto; 2005. p. 131–55.Google Scholar
  101. Skowronek S. Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920. Cambridge University Press; 1982.Google Scholar
  102. Smart A, Hsu CL. Corruption or social capital? Tact and the performance of Guanxi in market socialist China. In: Nuijten M, Anders G, editors. Corruption and the secret of law: a legal anthropological perspective. Aldershot: Ashgate; 2007. p. 167–89.Google Scholar
  103. Smith DJ. A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria. Princeton University Press; 2010.Google Scholar
  104. Sundell A. Understanding informal payments in the public sector: theory and evidence from nineteenth-century Sweden. Scand Polit Stud. 2014;37(2):95–122.Google Scholar
  105. Sundström A. Exploring performance-related pay as an anticorruption tool. Stud Comp Int Dev. 2017:1–18.Google Scholar
  106. Teorell J, Rothstein B. Getting to Sweden, part I: war and malfeasance, 1720–1850. Scand Polit Stud. 2015;38(3):217–37.Google Scholar
  107. Torsello D. The New Environmentalism?: Civil Society and Corruption in the Enlarged EU. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.; 2012.Google Scholar
  108. Uberti LJ. Can institutional reforms reduce corruption? Economic theory and patron–client politics in developing countries. Dev Chang. 2016;47(2):317–45.Google Scholar
  109. von Holdt K. Nationalism, bureaucracy and the developmental state: the south African case. S Afr Rev Sociol. 2010;41(1):4–27.Google Scholar
  110. Werner C. Gifts, bribes, and development in post-soviet Kazakstan. Hum Organ. 2000;59(1):11–22.  https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.59.1.w2582tqj18v3880p.Google Scholar
  111. Wihantoro Y, Lowe A, Cooper S, Manochin M. Bureaucratic reform in post-Asian crisis Indonesia: the directorate general of tax. Crit Perspect Account. 2015;31:44–63.Google Scholar
  112. Witsoe J. Corruption as power: caste and the political imagination of the postcolonial state. Am Ethnol. 2011;38(1):73–85.Google Scholar
  113. Witsoe J. Lessons from Anti-Corruption Activism in Rural India. Conference paper presented at the “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Corruption” conference. Northwestern University; 2016.Google Scholar
  114. World Economic Forum. Global Shapers Annual Survey. 2016. http://shaperssurvey.org/.
  115. Zaloznaya M. Organizational cultures as agents of differential association: explaining the variation in bribery practices in Ukrainian universities. Crime Law Soc Chang. 2012;58(3):295–320.Google Scholar
  116. Zaloznaya M. The Politics of Bureaucratic Corruption in Post-Transitional Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press; 2017.Google Scholar
  117. Zerilli FM. Corruption, Property and Restitution and Romanianess. In: Haller D and Shore C, editors. Corruption: Anthropological Perspectives. Pluto; 2005. p. 83–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica Prasad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mariana Borges Martins da Silva
    • 2
  • Andre Nickow
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Personalised recommendations