Quantitative report on causes of performance and stagnation in the global fight against corruption

Why do some societies manage to establish control of corruption and others not? Control of corruption is defined in this report as the capacity of a society to constrain individual corrupt behavior (defined as particular distribution of public goods leading to undue private profit) in order to enforce the norm of individual integrity in public service and politics as well as to uphold a state that is free from capture by particular interest.This report sought to answer this main research question from an interdisciplinary perspective and by a large-N comparison method. For the dependent variables, the report uses: the aggregated Control of Corruption Index (CoC) from World Bank, the Corruption Risk Index from the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG), the experience with bribe and perception of official’s corruption from Global Corruption Barometer 2013, the experience with bribe and perception of favoritism from ANTICORRP’s own QOG 2013 European survey, the expert perception of diversion of public funds from World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Survey and the tolerance towards corrupt practices from World Values Survey 2008.

A Comparative Assessment of Regional Trends and Aspects Related to Control of Corruption in the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Former Soviet Union

This report analyses the status and dynamics of the control of corruption in five world regions: the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Former Soviet Union. The diverse nature of corruption across the globe is shown by the huge variance within each single region; this variety of corruption is not only related to degrees of corruption but also to the peculiarities and effects of opportunities and constraints for corruption and the trajectories control of corruption or the lack thereof. In the MENA region material resources are abundant, while constraints are weak. Corruption prevails as a persistent social practice and a political strategy. Apart from few but notable exceptions, most countries in Asia and the Pacific as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa perform very poorly on control of corruption. Many of the small Caribbean island states have curbed corruption effectively, but the control of corruption in Latin American region shows little progress otherwise. The Former Soviet Union shows the lowest degree of the control of corruption worldwide. Existing evidence from regional achievers provide multiple insights into the dynamics for the control of corruption. Across these five regions two different pathways stand out: first, authoritarian regimes, with the strong willingness to reduce opportunities and strengthen (nondemocratic) restraints, and, second, democratic regimes with a strong and independent anti-corruption legislation, which is backed up by an independent judiciary have been able to successfully fight corruption. The report draws on the model of control of corruption as a balance between resources and constraints (Mungiu-Pippidi et al. 2011) to review in more detail the contributing factors. These continental comparisons complement the background reports of ‘achiever countries’.

Tax Simplification and Informal Economy in developing and transitioning countries

Informal economy is present in all countries; however it is in low and middle income countries that it has its deepest roots with some measurements estimating it to average at above 40% of national GDP. This represents a large part of the economy and poses serious problems for economic development and the relationship between state and society. It also means a significant loss in tax revenue, that poor countries need for the provision of public goods, resulting in the undermining of state capacity (Fukuyama, 2004). This leads to a vicious cycle, since without the efficient provision of public goods the incentive for tax compliance further decreases.

As tax structure and bureaucratic burden haven been identified as primary causes for informal economy, in the following we want to analyze whether lower costs of compliance actually lead to lower levels of informal economy.  Given that in recent years some countries have implemented flat tax as tool for tax simplification, the authors explore the question of whether flat taxes have actually lived up to their promise and increased tax revenue or lowered levels of informal economy.

Pedro Obando and  Johannes Wahner are both Master’s of Public Policy candidates at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Becoming Denmark: Historical Designs of Corruption Control

Why do some societies manage to control corruption so it manifests itself only occasionally, as an exception, while other societies do not and remain systemically corrupt? And is the superior performance of this first group of countries a result of what they do or of who they are? Most current anticorruption strategies presume the former, which is why institutions from developed and well-governed countries are currently being copied all around the world. At least on paper, there are few states left that are missing a constitutional court, some form of checks and balances, or an ombudsman (the number of countries with these elements grew from 47 in 1990, 100 in 2003 and 135 by 2008). Skeptics, on the other hand, endorse the latter view, believing in the cultural determinism of corruption and good governance. More recently, following the failure of the first generation of anticorruption reforms, a middle-ground position has begun to emerge: that the most relevant lessons lie not in what developed countries are currently doing to control corruption but rather in what they have done in thepast, when their societies more strongly resembled the conditions in today’s developing world (Andrews 2008). However, as this subject area is largely unknown to governance scholars and practitioners alike, it is difficult even to estimate the potential value of such historical lessons. I plan to address this gap by asking not how corruption is eradicated but rather how societies have built—over time—systems to protect their common resources from being spoiled by individuals or groups.

Are EU funds a corruption risk? The impact of EU funds on grand corruption in Central and Eastern Europe

Fazekas et al explore the impact of EU structural funds on institutionalised grand corruption in three countries where corruption is systemic – Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia – between 2009-2012. They examine whether EU funds have contributed to weakening institutional quality in terms of wasteful public spending and increased ‘legal’ corruption conducted through public procurement. By exploiting a unique pooled database containing contract-level public procurement information for all three countries they are able to systematically examine corruption risks associated with EU funding at the micro-level. The authors also develop a composite corruption risks indicator based on the incidence and logical structure of ‘irregularities’ in individual public procurement transactions.

Fazekas et al. ultimately claim that EU funding impacts institutionalised grand corruption in CEE in two ways: first, by providing additional public resources available for corrupt rent extraction; second, by increasing the controls of corruption for the additionally allocated funding. Their preliminary calculations indicate that the first effect increases the value of particularistic resource allocation in the three countries up to 1.21% of their GDPs, while the second effect decreases the value of particularistic resource allocation by up to 0.03% of GDP. However, the latter beneficial effect is entirely driven by Slovakia, which has a high national corruption risk level; while in Czech Republic and Hungary this impact is even negative. The authors conclude with several policy recommendations calling for a radical improvement of the monitoring and controlling framework.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 1: Controlling Corruption in Europe

The first volume of the Anticorruption Report series provides a comprehensive analysis of causes and consequences of corruption in three European regions, presenting corruption risks for several European countries and concrete policy recommendations on how to effectively address those risks.

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

Global comparative trend analysis report

Can governance be changed by human agency? The answer to this central policy question has been taken for granted in the last twenty years as good governance promotion began to feature as a top priority of every international donor organization. Despite this fact, the answer is not as simple. In this introductory study the answer is divided in two parts. The first question pertains to whether governance—as defined in the framework of this project as a set of institutions determining who gets what in a given society—evolves at all, other than incrementally, in the absence of radical intervening factors (e.g., war, military occupation or natural disaster). The second part questions, where such natural evolution can be observed with some certainty, is it intentional human agency which brings the change about. The objective of this trend analysis report is to answer the first part of the question and identify cases of evolution.

Controlling Corruption Through Collective Action

Control of corruption in a society is an equilibrium between resources and costs which either empowers or constraints elites predatory behavior. While most research and practice focuses on legal constraints, this paper investigates normative constraints, deemed to be more important, especially civil society and the press. Fresh evidence—both historical and statistical—is found to support Tocqueville’s assertions regarding the importance of collective action and the joint action of media and associations in not only creating a democratic society, but controlling corruption as well. However, little is known on how to build normative constraints.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Controlling Corruption in the European Union

For many years corruption was seen as a problem only of developing countries, while the European Union (EU) on the contrary was the temple of the rule of law, exporting good governance both to its own peripheries and worldwide. Many European countries indeed remain among the best governed in the world, although the downfall of the Santer Commission on charges of corruption, the enlargement of the EU by its incorporation of new member countries with unfinished transitions, and the economic crisis all strongly indicate that control of corruption is difficult to build and hard to sustain. Older member countries Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have all regressed rather than progressed since they joined – the first two of them to worrying levels – and that has raised doubts about the EU’s transformative effect on its members.

Corruption: A Modern Day Hydra. Understanding the monster through the eyes of the people.

The present paper considers corruption to be a deeply complex phenomenon that should be broken down to its essential components in order to develop a deeper understanding of it. Therefore, in this study, corruption shall be broken down into three categories which are namely judicial, bureaucratic and political corruption. These three forms of corruption are “same but different” as even though they all entail the deviation of norms, the scale and effects they have on the society are in fact very different. This paper shall seek to fill the gap by examining and identifying the drivers of corruption through the lens of the general public by using data obtained from TI’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB). In addition, this study shall also seek to prove that people’s perception of corruption offer valuable insights and should thus be used to triangulate with expert’s opinions to derive a more robust and holistic measure of corruption.

Contextual Choices in Fighting Corruption: Lessons Learned

Why is it that despite unprecedented investment in anti-corruption in the last fifteen years and the implementation of global monitoring and legislation, so few countries managed to register progress in fighting corruption? This new report commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) to the Hertie School of Governance aims to see what could be learnt from weaknesses in current support to fighting corruption at country level and identify approaches that can be more effective in fighting corruption in different governance contexts.

The report revealed that conceptual flaws, imprecise measurement instruments and inadequate strategies are to blame for the lack of progress in fighting corruption. But it also argues that the quest for public integrity is a political one, between predatory elites in a society and its losers and fought primarily on domestic playgrounds. As such, the donor community can play only a limited part and it needs to play this part strategically in order to create results. Based on new statistical evidence, the report recommends cash-on-delivery/selectivity approaches for anti-corruption assistance. Effective and sustainable policies for good governance need to diminish the political and material resources of corruption and build normative constraints in the form of domestic collective action. Most of the current anti-corruption strategies, on the contrary, focus on increasing legal constraints, which often fail because most interventions are localized in societies that lack the rule of law.

Beyond Good Governance: Performance of the International Anticorruption Institutional Arsenal Put to the Test

With political corruption posing a serious threat to democracy and its consolidation, anticorruption efforts have in recent years shifted from a reduced reliance on political tools to an increased support of the legislative and institutional means. The present thesis, using quantitative cross-sectional models, analyzes the performance of four, highly advocated, institutional transplants. Results suggest that an installment of the Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) can, in the presence of an active civil society and attentive opposition to the governing structures, significantly decrease levels of corruption in a country.

Aid Selectivity and Anti-Corruption Policy: a Case Study of the Millenium Challenge Corporation

This paper argues that corruption control is the most fundamental component of the good governance agenda, since it subverts all the other values of good governance. It is both cause and effect of inefficient and unaccountable institutions. In developing countries, were resources are scarcer and need to be used in the most effective manner, corruption is especially harmful. In an effort to clarify how this move to a more selective, performance based approach can have an influence in the control of corruption of developing countries and therefore serve as model for other donors to follow, this paper will first discuss the concepts of good governance, development, corruption and review its empirical links to aid effectiveness. It will also show the benefits and limitations of measuring governance and corruption and argue for the development of more broad assessments methods.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of El Salvador

El Salvador has changed much in the last 20 years. It has managed to move from a previous military regime and a civil war to a democracy, but this process is still in progress. The country must yet face a number of weaknesses to continue its transition to good governance, particularly regarding the development of an active civil society, a free and impartial press and lower levels of corruption. Assistance from foreign donors will be an important support to future improvements, especially concerning the strengthening of civil society and institutional capacity building to fight corruption more effectively.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of Albania

Albania’s progress of development has been hindered by the high rates of corruption. World Bank’s Control of Corruption measurement of 2008 placed Albania in the 25-50 percentile rank and Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the same year was 3,2 placing Albania 85th out of 180 countries ranked.  In comparison to its neighbors since 2002 Albania is doing the worst it terms of control of corruption. Albania was doing quite well in 1996 after which it experienced a huge decrease in control of corruption and even though over the years steady positive progress has been made, it hasn’t recovered to the same level yet.

Political Economy Analysis of Control of Corruption in Chile

The analysis of the World Governance Indicator Control of Corruption and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that Chile has always been a clean country, but one cannot tell how control of corruption developed. In order to understand control of corruption in Chile, one must look at the transition to democracy period, and also at Chile’s history, analyzing the institutions, power distribution, and the rules of the game since the first democratic period until nowadays in order to understand why control of corruption in Chile has always been higher than in other Latin American countries.

Uruguay: a Case of Success in Latin America

According to the World Governance Indicators, there has been an improvement in control of corruption in Uruguay between 1998 and 2008. This political economy analysis will try to explain why. Corruption is a big problem in almost all Latin American countries. What makes Uruguay different?

The Republic of Indonesia: Between a Gecko and a Crocodile

Although corruption continues to be a severe problem in Indonesia, indicators show that Indonesia has greatly improved at curbing corruption over the past decade – more so, in fact, than any other country in all of Asia. Clearly, something remarkable is going on in the country. This paper will focus on the evolution of corruption in the Republic of Indonesia, exploring what factors, including policy indicators, have had the greatest impact in curbing corruption in the country.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of Tanzania

This report gives a snapshot of the state of corruption in Tanzania between the years 1998 and 2008. Strong presidents, who have endorsed the fight against corruption, as one of their main presidential goals have been the main drivers of change in Tanzania’s fight against corruption. However, there are many shortcomings that are eminent in Tanzania’s endeavour to fight corruption. Enforcement remains limited and capacity, staff, and resources are lagging. Nonetheless, change in the control of corruption is perceived and real. There are different indicators, one of them being that even “the big fish” have been discharged from major political offices. In 2008, a corruption scandal led to the resignation of the prime minister. These revelations and actual changes demonstrate that corruption is becoming an act that is not tolerated by the population and therefore business – in this case being corruption – cannot be carried out “as usual”.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of South Korea

This paper traces the development of corruption and pluralism in South Korea all the way back to independence in 1945. It distinguishes and describes three kinds of transition, namely from the simple agrarian society governed by landlords to a complex industrial one, from the authoritarian rule of Park and Chu to democracy, and the overarching transition to good governance. The study finds progress towards the goal of good governance in the land reform of the 1950s, in the establishment of a meritocratic and effective bureaucracy during the 60s and 70s, through the creation of an autonomous and well-educated middle class till the 80s, and finally the fight against the market domination by the Chaebols following the Asian crisis of 1997. Differing from the general literature on anti-corruption but in line with recent developments in the economics literature the fight for an autonomous state in Korea seems to depend on successful regulation of markets.

Beyond Perception: Has Romania’s Governance Improved since 2004?

Romania and Bulgaria encounter today problems in joining the visa-free Schengen area. The main one in the public eye is corruption. Both countries pledged to improve their rule of law when signing their accession treaties in 2005, yet little progress is perceived by observers or captured with governance measurements relying on perception, such as CPI and World Bank Governance indicators. This paper explores real policy, with fact-based indicators, to trace progress in the area – or lack of it – since 2004 to the present.