Teaching

ERCAS develops and promotes a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to policy analysis, public management and development which seeks to:

  • give due importance to the role of informal institutions, often neglected if not altogether banned from these disciplines;
  • highlight the role of agency while permanently questioning the assumptions of current approaches of corruption studies;
  • integrate historical research with advanced inferential and descriptive statistics;
  • control for developing versus developed institutional contexts.

Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, director of ERCAS, is part of the Hertie School of Governance’s faculty as Professor of Democracy Studies since 2007. She teaches policy analysis, research design, state-building and anti-corruption, as well as broader institutional transformation. Current and recent offers are presented below.

Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master in International Affairs Courses:

Democracy Promotion after the Arab Spring

Once a prominent component of foreign policy for developed democracies around the world and a privileged area of intervention for donors, democracy promotion finds itself threatened in the aftermath of the disappointing Arab spring revolutions and the rise of the likes of Donald Trump.  But what is the objective evidence on the record of the last wave of democracy promotion, as well as of earlier ones? This course will explore existing theoretical and empirical literature on democracy promotion, but will also include readings written by and for practitioners in the democracy promotion industry. Students should learn an understanding of the justifications for democracy promotion as norms transfer, the repertoire of interventions and their record, as well as the challenges of assessing progress in this field.

The oldest attempt at democracy promotion belongs with the French Revolution.  Endowed with a powerful new model of citizenship and national identity, France’s revolutionaries sought to export what they thought was a universal model of modern civilization to the rest of the world, beginning with Napoleon, who invaded Egypt, closed Venetian Republic and fixed Switzerland. Later the British Empire came, which upon leaving its colonies left behind Common law and majority Westminster type electoral systems. Finally, after 1989, the ‘end of history’ was proclaimed, as liberal democracy had no challenger left.

The aim of this class is to give historical and cultural depth to the current policy approach to democracy promotion. Nothing is more practical than to be aware of context when a policy intervention is decided, to be able to assess previous interventions and their performance to date. While case studies will aim at geographical and historical diversity, the class will cover the aims, ideology, methods and favorite areas of democracy promotion, such as elections, rule of law, state building and quality of democracy.

Corruption as Policy Failure

The Panama Leaks or the Volkswagen emissions scandal highlighted even for the more optimistic the insidious character of corruption which subverts both market and democratic institutions. Legal scholars tend to see corruption merely as an individual deviation from a well-enshrined norm of public integrity. From a public policy perspective, however, corruption is a concern due to its systemic character. It constitutes a reversal of governance norms we consider as modern and rational, and results in irrational spending, vicious circles of economic stagnation, and hindrance of both merit and innovation.

Less than a third of the countries in the world can claim to have reached reasonable control of corruption, although imperfect, and for more than two thirds of countries, corruption is the rule of the game.

On paper, over 160 countries have signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), pledging to ethical universalism, integrity, transparency, accountability, and public consultation. This means that citizens of these countries and the international community are entitled to demand good government. In principle and in detail, there has never been so much universal agreement on what good governance is. But with the advent of globalization and economic crises, we have, in practice, witnessed a backslide even in more advanced democracies – with connections disputing merit as the main source of social advancement, coupled with abuse of public authority frequently being the number one source of wealth.

This class defines corruption from a policy perspective, explains how to diagnose and measure it, assesses consequences for public spending and essential policy sectors (such as health and education), but also for the type of society and capitalism we live in. A full assessment of evidence-based solutions is also introduced and students are taught to use a toolkit that enables the diagnosis and individually tailored solutions fitting particular contexts. This class draws on the most updated methods and instruments generated by the two top corruption research projects ANTICORRP and DIGIWHIST funded by the European Union and designed by our research group at Hertie School. The databases EuroPAM (joint with the World Bank, public accountability updated mechanism in 35 countries), TED (EC, EU-28 procurement), and Public Integrity Index (110 countries, corruption, government structural and policy determinants) are open to students to do research for class or future dissertations.

 

Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) and Open Enrolment Courses

Good Governance & Anti-Corruption

Legal scholars tend to see corruption merely as an individual deviation from a well-enshrined norm of public integrity. From a public policy perspective, however, the problem of corruption is viewed very differently: Corruption matters because of its systemic character. It constitutes a reversal of governance norms we consider as modern and rational, and results in irrational spending, vicious circles of economic stagnation, and hindrance of both merit and innovation. Less than a third of the countries in the world can claim to have reached good control of corruption, and for more than two thirds of countries, corruption – defined as a systematic deviation from a social allocation based on ethical universalism (public resources distributed fairly and impartially on the basis of the principle of equal treatment) – is the rule of the game.

On paper, over 160 countries have signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), pledging to ethical universalism, integrity, transparency, accountability, and public consultation. This means that citizens of these countries and the international community are entitled to demand good government. In principle and in detail, there has never been so much universal agreement on what good governance is. But with the advent of globalization and economic crises, we have, in practice, witnessed a backslide even in more advanced democracies – with connections disputing merit as the main source of social advancement, coupled with abuse of public authority frequently being the number one source of wealth.

This class defines corruption from a policy perspective, explains how to diagnose and measure it, assesses consequences for public spending and essential policy sectors (such as health and education), but also for the type of society and capitalism we live in. A full assessment of evidence-based solutions is also introduced and students are taught to use a toolkit that enables the diagnosis and individually tailored solutions fitting particular contexts.

Actors, Institutions, Policies

Public policies are governmental activities addressing societal problems. Public policy-making – crafting plans as a basis to make decisions – is therefore closely linked to the idea of problem-solving. This policy-making, however, is situated in a political setting shaped by divergent interests, power games and inherent uncertainty about the future. How public policies are designed and implemented is therefore shaped by the interaction of a variety of actors pursing their specific interests. Policy analysis is precisely about the link between these dynamics (politics) and problem-solving (policy).

The general goal of this course is to introduce analytical perspectives – derived from the so-called policy cycle – to systematically discuss the often complex process of policy-making under these conditions. It also introduces policy analysis as an applied field of study offering analytical tools to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies. A particular emphasis is put on the different ‘policy instruments’ (such as coercion, incentives and information) that governments may use to shape the behavior of a particular target population.

The concrete competence for policy-makers conveyed in this course is a) to understand how political processes shape policy-making, i.e. how interaction between (self-interested) actors affects policy design and implementation as well as the final outcome of policies and b) how applying the concepts or methods of policy analysis can help improve public policy outcomes under these conditions.

In this way, it aims at providing a general toolkit, which participants can use in diverse situations. It also provides an occasion for a theory-guided self-reflection about participants’ own past experiences in the policy process. The course deals with foundational concepts and debates that are at the core of public policy both as a field of practice and research.

 

MPP, MIA and PhD Thesis Advice

You can work in a colloquium format with Prof. Mungiu-Pippidi for your MPP or PhD thesis. Topics accepted are:

  • corruption;
  • state building in developing contexts (administrative and civil service reform, property, design of political institutions, conflict and post-conflict management);
  • transitions from authoritarianism;
  • the impact of European integration on the quality of governance in member, accession and neighbouring states;
  • the political economy of development donors.

Below a list of the most recent theses presented by students at the MPP programme:

2016

  • ‘Public & Private Affairs: the relation between Conflict of Interest and Control of Corruption when the national treasure chest is brimming’ by Natalia Alvarado Pachón and Tebogo Thato Gareitsanye
  • ‘The Effects of Military and Education Spending on Control of Corruption: a Panel Data Study’ by Diego Fernández Fernández
  • ‘Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission: Reforms in Strategy Needed. Will a change of focus on prevention work rather than enquiry and investigation enable the ACC to achieve long-term success in reducing levels of public corruption in Bangladesh?’ by Karishma Nair

 

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