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

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 Rwanda

In recent years, Rwanda has been praised by a large number of donors and development experts for its recovery from the 1994 genocide, sustained economic growth and improvement of many socioeconomic indicators, partly achieved thanks to massive aid flows. A key feature of Rwanda’s progress is often considered to be governance and particularly anti-corruption: the country is generally regarded as one of the least corrupt in Africa and a success story in reducing corruption. This paper aims to analyze the state of corruption and the wider governance context in Rwanda, attempting to evaluate whether the country’s governance regime is an open access order characterized by ethical universalism, a limited access order dominated by particularism, or a hybrid.  After providing an overview of the country’s anti-corruption framework, the paper analyses a number of governance aspects and assesses the incidence of different forms of petty and grand corruption in a bid to ascertain to which extent claims of Rwanda as an anti-corruption success story are well-founded .