The Quest for Good Governance. How Societies Develop Control of Corruption

Why do some societies manage to control corruption so that it manifests itself only occasionally, while other societies remain systemically corrupt? This book is about how societies reach that point when integrity becomes the norm and corruption the exception in regard to how public affairs are run and public resources are allocated. It primarily asks what lessons we have learned from historical and contemporary experiences in developing corruption control, which can aid policy-makers and civil societies in steering and expediting this process. Few states now remain without either an anticorruption agency or an Ombudsman, yet no statistical evidence can be found that they actually induce progress. Using both historical and contemporary studies and easy to understand statistics, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi looks at how to diagnose, measure and change governance so that those entrusted with power and authority manage to defend public resources. The Quest for Good Governance presents a comprehensive empirical theory of governance unifying important disparate contributions in the areas of corruption, quality of government and rule of law and is the first attempt to directly answer the big question of what explains virtuous circles in good governance. It features research and policy tools to diagnose and build contextualized national strategies. The book was published on 27 August 2015 as a paperpack and hardcover.

Please find more information, as well as order the book on the website of Cambridge University Press.

Reviews for this publication

This is one of the most important books ever written on the most universal governance challenge of our time – how to control corruption. In this brilliant integration of theory, history, case studies and quantitative evidence, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi shows how countries move from the natural state of corruption, clientelism and particularistic governance to the impersonal norms of fairness, integrity and transparency that make for good governance. This is an indispensable work for any scholar, student or policy-maker who wants to understand how societies mobilize and states reform to control corruption.

Larry Diamond, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University, California

 

Along with Tilly and Acemoglu and Robinson, Mungiu-Pippidi in this volume smartly re-frames the nature of the modern state.

Elsewhere in her superbly thoughtful and conceptually enriching book, Mungiu-Pippidi focuses on how the Italian city-states in their rise to republicanism largely contained corrupt practices and, by focusing on equality, avoided the kinds of wholesale corruption that is (and has been for years) widespread in the modern Italian state.

Fortunately, Mungiu-Pippidi’s remarkable book provides a welcome trove of possible solutions to the historical problem of corruption”.

Robert Rotberg “Considering Corruption’s Curse: Venality across Time and Space”. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Summer 2016

 

The Quest for Good Governance combines sophisticated conceptual discussion (for example, of the varying definitions of corruption and their consequences) with a historical perspective and a critical statistical analysis of various databases.  It is a good example of a multi-method approach to a huge and complex problem… I find this an accomplished and important book, and one which deserves very wide readership”.

Christopher Pollitt in International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 82:3, 2016

 

Reformers who read this essential book will learn rather than seeking ‘toolkits’ to attack specific corrupt activities, successful societies have made integrity and accountability widely-accepted norms, backed up by the self-interest of a wide range of citizens. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi makes clear that societies which keep corruption under control have succeeded not just a due to their present laws and enforcement, but through a longer-term story of political development, widespread expectations and the building of effective performance of public institutions.

Michael Johnston, Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Colgate University

 

Mungiu-Pippidi writes that creating collective action and providing political support is the only proven effective strategy against corruption. Specialists will appreciate the comprehensive summary and review of the literature … Highly recommended.

E. Hartwig, Choice

 

“Reading the book was really a roller-coaster… It touches upon all the key issues of corruption: It looks at measurement, theory, at policy; it uses quantitative methods, but also process tracing tools. It’s really a tour de force on various things and, while you might not agree with all of its conclusions, it really is a textbook even though it’s not a textbook on corruption”.

Finn Heinrich, Research Director at Transparency International

 

“What I was impressed by was the historical depth and the combination of various methods, from court case analysis to survey data and econometrics. You really had the impression to get a comprehensive picture. What I was also impressed by was the refusal to give easy and simple answers. This is not a cookbook; it’s a book to think about very specific cases and come up with very specific solutions.”

Hans-Dieter Klingemann, WZB

 

A strong argument for framing the anti-corruption debate in terms of ethical universalism and impartiality with a focus on grassroots citizen involvement. Mungiu-Pippidi realistically acknowledges the difficulty of lasting reform, but at the same time she usefully seeks to move the policy debate beyond platitudes to concrete proposals that can attract domestic support and fit local contexts.

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

 

Mungiu-Pippidi’s work is a significant contribution to our understanding of the subject, and one to which policymakers and international donors should pay attention. Her work systematically explores the failed and successful trajectories of different countries in arriving at norms of universalism in governance. It is an important work in its welcome focus on the importance of societal norms in creating and sustaining various types of political corruption, and in the finding that what matters most is not international efforts, but domestic ones… [ The book] would be a welcome addition to an advanced undergraduate or graduate course on the political economy of corruption, and on the political economy of development. It should also serve as required reading for domestic and international policymakers, donors, and NGO activists concerned about corruption.

Carolyn M. Warner, Arizona State University, in Governance, June 2016

 

A brief review can scarcely do justice to Mungiu-Pippidi’s complex and subtle achievement. Her book is a powerful synthesis of theory, empirical analysis, and policy prescription. She is not just a scholar but also a leading anticorruption campaigner in her home country of Romania. She has known both the sweet savor of success in promoting an anticorruption agenda, and the bitter aftertaste that comes when it falters and particularism returns. This experience underpins her analysis, and the resulting combination of hard-edged realism and scholarly care gives her writing considerable power. Readers who are familiar with a country where corruption is part of the fabric of social and political affairs—my own speciality is Indonesia—will discover many moments of recognition in these pages, as well as a framework to aid understanding and useful lessons about how to move forward. The Quest for Good Governance deserves to have a major impact on how scholars and practitioners understand corruption, and on their efforts to help societies overcome it.”

Edward Aspinall, Professor in the Department of Political and Social Change in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University, in the Journal of Democracy.

Process-tracing report on Uruguay

This paper describes and analyzes the transformation of Uruguayan governance institutions with particular regard to corruption and particularism. Uruguay substantively improved its levels of universalism in the last fifteen years. This improvement is due to a prolonged process of transformation in Uruguayan politics from competitive particularism to an open access regime. We claim that the change in the way that parties compete for votes – from clientelistic to programmatic strategy – since 1985 is the cause of this transformation. An economic and fiscal crisis during the sixties weakened the clientelistic strategy of the traditional parties and enabled the entrance of a new party that built their electoral support based on programmatic claims instead of the distribution of clientelism. In that context, clientelism became nor fiscally sustainable neither electorally effective. The traditional parties –after an authoritarian period- had to adapt to programmatic competition and leave aside clientelism. Institutional transformations are the consequences of the strategies that parties took for electoral survival and they are functional to the new political equilibrium and help to maintain it. This paper traces the process of institutional reforms and elite behavioral changes that lead to that outcome. Data from a variety of sources is used- ranging from official figures and elite interviews, to public opinion and elite surveys or media reports – to provide descriptive evidence of the main features of this governance regime transformation, and proposes an analytic framework to explain it.

Process-tracing report on Taiwan

Since Taiwan became democratic in 1992 and especially after the change in ruling parties in 2000, the passage of new laws and the reform of existing ones have defined more clearly than ever what constitutes “corrupt” behavior and legal changes have followed international norms. Moreover, since the change in ruling parties, judicial independence has been guaranteed and anti-corruption agencies have been strengthened considerably. Despite the fact that there is still corruption and that the institutional configuration of Taiwan’s anti-corruption agencies is far from optimum, these are major achievements.The present report explains these achievements by analyzing the impact of two turning points in Taiwan’s history, democratization and the change in ruling parties, on agency in Taiwan’s anti-corruption reforms. It does so by applying the methodology of process-tracing which investigates the historical developments around these two “critical junctures” in Taiwan’s history while taking into consideration enabling and constraining factors “inherited” from the authoritarian era. The analysis primarily draws on interviews conducted with former and present officials, judges, and investigators in October 2014.

Process-tracing report on South Korea

Various indicators of corruption show that South Korea has been relatively successful in control of corruption, compared to other Asian countries. Since its independence, South Korea has been transitioning, if not completed a transition, from particularism of the limited access order to ethical universalism of the open access order. How did this happen?  This paper first compare the political, economic and social bases of contemporary control of corruption in South Korea with those in the early period of post-independence, focusing on the norms of ethical universalism vs. particularism. Then, the process-tracing analysis finds four periods with different equilibria of norms of particularism and universalism. Each period is defined by major political events such as the establishment of two divided countries (1948), Student Democratic Revolution (1960) followed by the military coup led by Park Chung-hee a year later, democratic transition (1987), and the financial crisis and the first peaceful change of government (1997). This paper also identifies several critical reforms that have contributed to the change of governance norms. The dissolution of the landed aristocracy, relatively equal distribution of wealth and rapid expansion of education due to sweeping land reform (1948 and 1950) laid the structural foundations for the growth of ethical universalism. Gradual expansion of civil service examinations (1950s-1990s), democratization (1960 and 1987), good governance reforms (1988- ) and post-financial crisis economic reform (1998-9) promoted norms of ethical universalism. This paper also explores how these reforms were carried out, who were the main actors, what factors enabled and constrained them, and what impact they made on governance norms.

Process-tracing report on Georgia

Georgia represents a remarkable case of transformation from a particularistic regime to ethical universalism even though it remains to be a ‘borderline case. This paper looks at Georgia’s path to reform in 2004-2012. It outlines a timeline of changes, discusses political actors of change and their backgrounds and then looks at internal and external factors which were regarded as significant in bringing about such change. It is argued that the young elite, both ideologically and structurally cohesive, capitalised on the window of opportunity and implemented ‘big bang’ reform in 2004-2008. As time passed the new incumbents developed vested interest that became apparent in 2008-2012 when a state-business nexus re-emerged with the state apparatus becoming increasingly manipulated for the sake of private and group interests. These interests undermined market competition, and elite networks used state power to control economic and political structures during the Saakashvili administration. Even though concerns over particularistic practices have remained, petty bribery has decreased substantially.

Process-tracing report on Estonia

In controlling corruption, Estonia is an obvious top-achiever in comparison with the rest of the post-socialist area countries. Some historical legacies apparently facilitated this state of affairs – Estonia was by and large the wealthiest republic of the Soviet Union with the most developed elements of autonomous civil society and considerable exposure to Western information. The strong anti-communist and nationalist mood of Estonians appear to be a key driving force behind the drastic replacement of the ruling elite, which culminated in the 1992 parliamentary elections. This report explores the replacement of the old Communist nomenclature, provides insights into some of the reforms undertaken and the roles of their proponents.The ruling groups changed again in 1995 but the governments of 1995-1999 were probably too short-lived, too weak and indeed not reactionary enough to reverse many of the positive effects of the reforms of the previous period. New legal guarantees of public access to information and broad access to online public services came after 1999 to serve as another layer of constraints on corruption. It can be surmised that a virtuous circle developed, perpetuated in the interplay between, on the one hand, pressures of public opinion requiring efficient and universalistic governance and, on the other hand, initiatives from government in response to public needs. Episodes of corrupt particularistic acts are still recurrent in Estonia but they do not outweigh the overall success.

Process-tracing report on Costa Rica

This paper track Costa Rica’s long transition from a particularistic to a universal ethical society using a process tracing mythology. It argues that the origins of Costa Rica’s success began in the early 20th century followed by three subsequent tipping points that resulted in limiting opportunities for corruption. Each of these tipping points enhanced corruption-free governance through the devolution of political power across the branches of government, the decoupling of the executive branch’s control over state accountability agencies, the creation of new agencies whose actions expanded the anticorruption capacity of state agencies, and the remove of legal impediments on the media to investigate and publish stories about corrupt officials. It details the central role of the media in the most recent period as a public watchdog investigating and reporting on many cases of apparent corruption by public officials. It also identifies many recent cases where the media (traditional and internet-based) initiated investigations into corruption before the state’s official anti-corruption agencies investigated and prosecuted them. The analysis draws on primary research and interviews with former and current public officials, magistrates, historians, and investigators.

Process-tracing report on Chile

This paper traces the historical roots of Chile’s low tolerance for corruption and analyzes how the country has successfully remained free from significant corruption scandals despite the greater access to information and more demands for transparency that often result in uncovering corruption in areas that were previously inaccessible to the press and civil society. The economic transformations undertaken under military rule (1973-1990) and consolidated once democracy was restored in 1990 have created a stronger civil society, a freer press and have increased demands for transparency. There is growing information on corruption scandals as the number of social and political actors has increased and there is more competition for resources and markets. As power is more widely distributed, there is less opportunity for covert corrupt practices and more pressure to end former common corrupt practices. While opportunities for corrupt practices expand with economic growth—both in per capita and total national GDP—tolerance for corruption has remained low and a stronger civil society has raised probity standards in the public sector.

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.