Transitions to Good Governance: Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-corruption

Why have so few countries managed to leave systematic corruption behind, while in many others modernization is still a mere façade? How do we escape the trap of corruption, to reach a governance system based on ethical universalism? In this unique book, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston lead a team of eminent researchers on an illuminating path towards deconstructing the few virtuous circles in contemporary governance. The book combines a solid theoretical framework with quantitative evidence and case studies from around the world. While extracting lessons to be learned from the success cases covered, Transitions to Good Governance avoids being prescriptive and successfully contributes to the understanding of virtuous circles in contemporary good governance.

Offering a balanced but always grounded perspective, this collection combines analytic narratives of existing virtuous circles and how they were established, with an analysis of the global evidence. In doing so the authors explain why governance is so resistant to change, and describe the lessons to be remembered for international anti-corruption efforts. Exploring the primacy of politics over economic development, and in order to understand how vicious circles can be broken, the expert contributions trace the progress of countries that have successfully transitioned. Unprecedentedly, this book goes beyond the tests of different variables to showcase human agency on every continent, and reveals why some nations make the best and others the worst of the same development legacies.

This comprehensive examination of virtuous circles of governance will appeal to all scholars with an interest in transitions, democratization, anti-corruption and good governance. Policy-makers and practitioners in the fields of international development, good governance and democracy support will find it an invaluable resource.

Reviews for this publication

“Vicious cycles, where corruption breeds corruption, present special challenges. Nevertheless, some success stories exist. The case studies in this edited volume highlight reforms that created virtuous cycles, where honesty breeds honesty. Nevertheless, the authors caution that reforms may be fragile and incomplete if policies do not shift expectations and behavior sufficiently enough toward a new, less-corrupt status quo.”

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University

Corruption Perception: how can we improve corruption measurements?

By Ramin Dadašov and Niklas Kossow

When releasing the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), every year, Transparency International (TI) can be sure to attract the attention of the wider public including policy makers, academics and the media. According to its latest results, the problem remains severe across the globe. More than two thirds of countries covered by the CPI suffer from serious corruption. Still, the current report also says that there is significant improvement in many countries: this seems to be good news for the growing anti-corruption community. Yet, some of the CPI results do raise some eyebrows. The steady raise of Qatar’s scores, for instance, cannot be squared with the governance realities on the Arabian Peninsula.

The role of the CPI and its companion – the World Bank’s Control of Corruption indicator (CCI) – in raising public awareness of the magnitude and the spread of corruption worldwide cannot be underestimated. Moreover, thanks to these indicators and the resulting huge body of empirical research in the last years we have learnt a lot (although by far not everything) about the factors which explain cross-country variation in corruption levels. The key feature of both indicators is that they are based on the aggregation of perceptions of experts and the general population. The aggregation of a variety of sources aims to reduce the measurement errors associated with individual surveys and to reflect the broad concept of corruption which underlines the measurements. Although the CPI and CCI differ with respect to sources employed and aggregation methods, they are highly correlated (for a global sample of 173 countries in 2013 data, e.g., the correlation between both indicators is r=0.98).

TI-CPI

As aggregate perception indicators both indicators have received several criticisms since their first publication in the mid-90s. Leaving aside the discussion on methodological and conceptual issues, one of the major concerns is their “lagging nature”:  Changes in the assessments of corruption often reflect corrections of errors done in the past. One illustrative example is Brazil. Hit by the Petrobras scandal that broke in 2014, it has been suffering from a severe economic and political crisis; the country’s current CPI scores deteriorated compared to the previous year after being stable between 2012 and 2014. The positive development of uncovering a previously hidden corruption scandal was not reflected in the score.  Other notable example in this context is the worsening of CCI scores in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal in the aftermath of the recent financial and fiscal crisis.

These examples make clear that interpreting changes in CPI or CCI should be done very cautiously. Using them for guiding policymakers can be misleading or even harmful as they might be silent about the potential outcome of anti-corruption reforms. Ukraine’s CPI score showed almost no change between 2012 and 2015, despite witnessing major anti-corruption reforms since the Maidan revolution in early 2014. Until very recently the methodology of CPI did not even allow for comparison across years which, despite explicit warnings by TI, did not hinder many users from doing so.

A corruption indicator that addresses the needs of the policy community thus needs to be a diagnostic tool that assesses the institutional capacity of a society to control corruption. It should be based on objective data, solidly grounded in evidence thereby transparently reflecting preventive policies for curbing corruption. Building on our work in ANTICORRP, the ERCAS team has been working on building such a tool.

Specifically, we propose an indirect way of capturing the national level of control of corruption through an Index of Public Integrity (IPI). Relying on objective and actionable data, it combines six different indicators reflecting aspects of red tape, transparency, judicial constraints, and social accountability.  A global version of the IPI covering around 100 countries will be available soon. A more limited version that covers only 28 European Member States was presented this month in a report commissioned by the Dutch EU presidency. Its approach enables researchers to track progress over time and to consider the impact of reform efforts. Similarly, as part of the DIGIWHIST project, our researchers are working on ways to use red flags in the context of public procurement as indicators for high-level corruption. As a governance field particularly prone to corruption, procurement practices can be used as proxies to estimate societal corruption levels, if used with care.

Our research shows that there is still a long way to go in order to reach truly objective measurements of corruption. Yet, there are steps in the right direction. Thanks to the efforts of the growing anti-corruption community we will soon be able to find indicators which will help us to inform the policy community on how to effectively fight corruption.

Science to activism. The Anticorruption Frontline

budrich2_square KopieCan social science impact policy in real time and offer relevant options for major problems that our societies face today? This is the challenge taken up by the policy pillar of the EU FP7 project ANTICORRP which deals with good governance and anticorruption policies. ANTICORRP is a five-year project based across 20 European universities and research institutes. The head of the policy pillar, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, a professor at Hertie School of Governance and director of the European Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building in Berlin has organized work so that once a year, relevant new data, analyses and solutions are published in the form of a policy digest published by Barbara Budrich and widely distributed both in electronic and print format. The series was initiated last year with the first volume, ‘Controlling Corruption in Europe’ and has continued with the second volume, ‘The Anticorruption Frontline’ which was released this fall at the OECD Anticorruption Network Meeting (Eastern Europe and Central Asia Plenary) on 10 October 2014.

“I frequently hear the complaint that social science projects are de facto decoupled from policy and that the findings miss the window of opportunity to inform policy,” Mungiu-Pippidi says. “There are good reasons for this, primarily because the academic publishing cycle is slow and the focus is different from policy. If you study corruption, however, you have to be relevant for policy when your problem becomes salient. Which, in the case of corruption, is now.”

The core argument of ANTICORRP, a title which translates as ‘anti-body’, is that control of corruption is an equilibrium between opportunities and constraints for corrupt behaviour. To improve on it, good instruments are needed to trace change across time and understand if a policy intervention works or not. Each volume of the series thus has a special section dedicated to indicators as researchers struggle to move away from perception-based indicators such as the Corruption Perception Index to concrete ones which allow comparisons across time. The use of such indicators seriously shakes common knowledge: in the current volume of the report, researchers show that the widely used perception indicators overrate Qatar and Rwanda (two excellent reports are dedicated to each), that EU funds increase corruption risk in Hungary and Czech Republic (Hungarian researcher Mihaly Fazekas also published his innovative indicators measuring risk in public procurement in the first volume) and that Bulgaria failed in its anticorruption efforts despite serious push from the EU. What control of corruption consists of is documented in every volume with new evidence – this time, across three different datasets. Hertie School researchers are currently working to develop an interactive website instrument, which would allow countries to calculate their own corruption risk: to see where their vulnerabilities are and thus get tailored recommendations. “Our work shows that silver bullets do not exist” Mungiu-Pippidi says “but it also shows that the balance can be tipped to one side or another by smart policies. We developed a reliable statistical model which is based only on human agency factors. If there is a will, we show the way to develop the needed anti-bodies, but the prescription is different for every context. As doctors say, there are no two patients alike, so we combine good individual diagnosis with a limited set of tested instruments in various combinations.”

ANTICORRP researchers are doing policy work for the Council of Europe, OECD, European Court of Auditors and DG Home, among others. Hertie School was recently commissioned to do a synthesis of policy relevant findings in the EU for the Dutch government to assist in their preparation for assuming presidency of the European Council in 2016.

Selected chapters from the report are available on the ANTICORRP project website, together with more academic publications and deliverables of the project. Printed copies can be ordered here.

Waging Battle on The Anticorruption Frontline

ruslanThe demand for good governance is on the rise everywhere, from Kiev to Sao Paulo, Paris to New Delhi. But has any measurable progress been made recently? Do we know which countries are succeeding and why? Do anticorruption experts and policy makers understand public concerns about corruption?

The Anticorruption Frontline, the second volume of the FP7 ANTICORRP project policy report launched last week at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, finds less than encouraging answers to these questions: Despite increased effort to fight corruption worldwide, there remains little progress on the ground. Even in countries which have shown improvement, the use of public office for private gain remains an issue. Public opinion surveys tracking concerns about corruption are frequently misunderstood – by those being surveyed as well as those proposing anticorruption policy solutions.

New research by Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi of the Hertie School of Governance shows that decreased confidence in the EU, especially in Western and Southern Europe, is linked closely to citizens’ perceptions of their national government’s ability to control corruption. This confidence has been eroded in the wake of the euro crisis, most markedly in countries with the worst growth performance. Central and Eastern Europe, however, remains the last bastion of trust in EU institutions, which is perceived largely as a counterweight to untrustworthy national institutions.

Two European case studies from The Anticorruption Frontline illustrate that EU funding regulations and anti-corruption legislation alone are no panacea for the rampant favoritism inherent in extant particularistic systems. Despite an improved Bulgarian anticorruption rating according to most accepted measures, findings from the Center for the Study of Democracy on Bulgarian governance show that the avoidance of market competition in areas such as public procurement remains the rule rather than the exception. In another chapter, Mihaly Fazekas’ unique data mining method on the awarding of EU structural funding uncovers systemic corruption in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian public contracting methods.

Such preferential treatment – and its inherent abuse of power – is one of the most insidious forms of corruption facing the world today.  Further case studies from The Anticorruption Frontline include deeper analysis of Qatar and Rwanda, two countries singled out for their improvements on anticorruption measures, yet both of which still exhibit favoritism in public procurement, as well as a look into the corrupt bed of Ukraine‘s gas market, exposed in the wake of 2014’s uprising. As every case in the book makes clear, traditional measures of corruption often fail to measure the existence and subsequent impact of such exploitation of public trust for private gain.

The Anticorruption Frontline argues that further EU regulation is not the solution. As a multidimensional phenomenon, fighting corruption requires tailored policy approaches as well as sustained support in areas such as improving transparency and strengthening civil society. The answer instead may lie in a transition from EU co-financing of large public projects – where the risk of corruption is higher – to a more universal and non-discretionary allocation of EU funding, such as an Europe-wide unemployment benefit scheme.

The Anticorruption Frontline is available for purchase via Barbara Budrich Publishers.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 2: The Anticorruption Frontline

From Turkey to Egypt, Bulgaria to Ukraine, and Brazil to India, we witness the rise of an angry urban middle class protesting against what they see as fundamental corruption of their politicalregimes, perceived as predatory and inefficient. Corruption is near the top of all global protesters’ list of grievances – from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring. There is increasing demand for good governance resulting in quality education and health systems, and denunciation of sheer bread and circus populism. Volume 2 of the ANTICORRP Anticorruption Report tackles these issues across key cases and developments.

Print and e-book version of the report can be purchased here.

Background paper on Qatar

Qatar is judged by international anti-corruption indices to be among the highest performing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Qatari government has streamlined its regulations regarding business practices and engaged in reforms from above that have liberalized the Qatari economy and increased its strength and viability. However, Qatar is a neo-patrimonial absolute monarchy in which the state is not immune from private interests, and where the ruling family can bypass the rule of law. The complete control by the monarch of state institutions and policies leaves no space for bottom-up calls for reform, or for independent assessment of the performance of the state and the actions of the ruling family by civil society and the media. The permeation of informal networks (mainly in the form of tribal relations) within state institutions and civil society, the lack of interest in and avenues for political participation among Qatari citizens, and the clientelistic relationship between citizens and the state support the continuation of this status quo. This paper analyses the structures and mechanisms of Qatar’s governance regime that reveal the contradictions inherent within the categories covered by anti-corruption indices. In doing so, it suggests a number of shortcomings in the methodologies and scope of those indices as they specifically apply to Qatar, and poses a number of questions regarding the kind of information that is difficult to find but which is crucial to address in order to form a clearer picture of corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar. The paper concludes that the absence of this information in the first place casts a shadow of doubt over the performance of Qatar in anti-corruption indices. Also, the indices’ focus on measuring the scope of state functions while not measuring the strength of state institutions is a key reason behind the discrepancy between Qatar’s anti-corruption ranking and the mechanisms and structure of its governance regime. Instead, the paper proposes specific indicators related to the governance regime that allow for a more comprehensive look at corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar.

Corruption in Qatar? The Link between the Governance Regime and Anti-Corruption Indicators

Qatar is judged by international anti-corruption indexes to be among the highest performing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Qatari government has streamlined its regulations regarding business practices and engaged in reforms from above that have liberalized the Qatari economy and increased its strength and viability. However, Qatar is a neo-patrimonial absolute monarchy in which the state is not immune from private interests, and where the ruling family can bypass the rule of law. The complete control by the monarch of state institutions and policies leaves no space for bottom-up calls for reform, or for independent assessment of the performance of the state and the actions of the ruling family by civil society and the media. The permeation of informal networks (mainly in the form of tribal relations) within state institutions and civil society, the lack of interest in and avenues for political participation among Qatari citizens, and the clientelistic relationship between citizens and the state support the continuation of this status quo. Author Lina Khatib analyzes the structures and mechanisms of Qatar’s governance regime that reveal the contradictions inherent within the categories covered by anti-corruption indexes. In doing so, she suggests a number of shortcomings in the methodologies and scope of those indexes as they specifically apply to Qatar, and poses a number of questions regarding the kind of information that is difficult to find but which is crucial to address in order to form a clearer picture of corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar. The author concludes that the absence of this information in the first place casts a shadow of doubt over the performance of Qatar in anti-corruption indexes. Additionally, the indexes’ focus on measuring the scope of state functions while overlooking measuring the strength of state institutions is a key reason behind the discrepancy between Qatar’s anti-corruption ranking and the mechanisms and structure of its governance regime. Instead, Khatib proposes specific indicators related to the governance regime that allow for a more comprehensive look at corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar.

Corruption in Qatar? The Link between the Governance Regime and Anti-Corruption Indicators

Qatar is judged by international anti-corruption indexes to be among the highest performing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Qatari government has streamlined its regulations regarding business practices and engaged in reforms from above that have liberalized the Qatari economy and increased its strength and viability. However, Qatar is a neo-patrimonial absolute monarchy in which the state is not immune from private interests, and where the ruling family can bypass the rule of law. The complete control by the monarch of state institutions and policies leaves no space for bottom-up calls for reform, or for independent assessment of the performance of the state and the actions of the ruling family by civil society and the media. The permeation of informal networks (mainly in the form of tribal relations) within state institutions and civil society, the lack of interest in and avenues for political participation among Qatari citizens, and the clientelistic relationship between citizens and the state support the continuation of this status quo. Author Lina Khatib analyzes the structures and mechanisms of Qatar’s governance regime that reveal the contradictions inherent within the categories covered by anti-corruption indexes. In doing so, she suggests a number of shortcomings in the methodologies and scope of those indexes as they specifically apply to Qatar, and poses a number of questions regarding the kind of information that is difficult to find but which is crucial to address in order to form a clearer picture of corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar. The author concludes that the absence of this information in the first place casts a shadow of doubt over the performance of Qatar in anti-corruption indexes. Additionally, the indexes’ focus on measuring the scope of state functions while overlooking measuring the strength of state institutions is a key reason behind the discrepancy between Qatar’s anti-corruption ranking and the mechanisms and structure of its governance regime. Instead, Khatib proposes specific indicators related to the governance regime that allow for a more comprehensive look at corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar.