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.

The Splintering of Postcommunist Europe

There are two radically different versions of the postcommunist narrative. One tells the triumphal tale of the only world region in which the reforms recommended by the “Washington consensus” worked. The other and more realistic account speaks of a historic window of opportunity that lasted for only a quarter-century, during which efforts by the West and patriotic elites of Central and Eastern Europe managed to drag the region into Europe proper, leaving Europe and Russia pitted against each other along the old “civilizational” border between them. This essay argues that while Institutional choices matter in the postcommunist world, geopolitical and civilizational boundaries still set the horizons of political possibility.

Anti-Corruption Revolutions: When Civil Society Steps In

This working paper explores the question of whether an empowered civil society with access to public information, can make a difference in the fight against corruption, using India and the recent rise of an anti-corruption party as a case study. Through a mixed methodology that combines quantitative and qualitative research tools, the authors find evidence that the availability of channels for accessing information has a positive effect on control of corruption, provided that civil society is engaged and able to actively participate in matters of public concern. In addition, this paper seeks to understand if and how collective action problems are overcome by civil society and determine whether the so-called anti-corruption revolutions are manifestations of this process.

The quantitative model builds upon previous work that has found separate effects for both factors (access to information and civil society) on control of corruption, and introduces an interaction term between the two of them. Additionally, the quantitative analysis explores the effects of perceived levels of corruption in a given period in subsequently controlling corruption.

The qualitative model, in turn, inquires more deeply into the interaction of these two variables using India as case study. Here, access to information legislation has been in place for almost a decade and civil society has shown itself outstandingly active. This case is particularly interesting given that the mobilization against corruption initiated in 2011 managed to achieve the introduction of a federal law creating an ombudsman. Altogether, this paper aims to shed light on the factors and processes shaping a sustained demand for accountability.

Background paper on Taiwan

Corruption has been on the top of Taiwan’s political and social agenda since at least the early 1980s. In many opinion surveys over the years, people have named it the most pressing political issue. Taiwan’s democratization in 1992 did not improve the situation – some observers even argue that corruption has worsened because of the need to finance election campaigns, to win votes and to gain influence in the now-powerful legislature.Since the first change in ruling parties in 2000, the situation has gradually improved. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) initiated tough anti-corruption regulations, strengthened anti-corruption organizations and cracked down hard on corruption and organized crime. The Kuomintang (KMT), which came to power again in 2008, continued this policy. Several high-profile corruption scandals in the last years mask the fact that Taiwan’s governance has improved markedly in the last decade. Not only have anti-corruption regulations been passed and are rigorously enforced, but also anti-corruption units in the government were strengthened. However, cultural factors such as the importance of personal relations in Chinese society and the habit of giving gifts not only to friends, but also to strategically important persons like doctors, teachers or business partners make it difficult to completely root out corruption.

Background paper on Costa Rica

In spite of the economic and social policy successes of Latin America’s longest surviving democracy, corruption has become a major problem shaking Costa Ricans’ confidence in appointed and elected public officials. In response to the apparent rise in corruption since the start of the new millennium, governments have introduced new laws and created new agencies to combat corruption at all levels of society, with an emphasis on combating particularism by elected and appointed public officials. This report evaluates the apparent increase in corruption, the efforts to limit, expose, and prosecute corrupt acts, and the factors that have facilitated the rise in corrupt actions on the part of state officials and private citizens. In short, acts of corruption that may have previously gone unnoticed (at least unproven) are now exposed by a more aggressive media and prosecuted by new and/or stronger state anti-corruption agencies and laws in response to multiple major political corruption scandals of the early 2000s. State prosecutors show no deference in their investigations of corruption and/or illicit enrichment by public officials and private figures, no matter how powerful. The only limitation is the level of resources available to these agencies. The contemporary increase in the scope of corruption is not in the quotidian actions of low-level officials directly affecting the lives of ordinary citizens, but in influence trading and manipulation of formal processes. A separate, more recent and growing corruption problem comes from international drug cartels that have amplified their activities and money laundering in Costa Rica that some fear might outstrip the state’s capacity to keep corruption under control.

Background paper on Georgia

Georgia had a terrible reputation for corruption, both in Soviet times and under the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze (1992-2003). After the ‘Rose Revolution’ that led to Shevardnadze’s early resignation, many proclaimed that the government of new President Mikheil Saakashvili was a success story because of its apparent rapid progress in fighting corruption and promoting neo-liberal market reforms. His critics, however, saw only a façade of reform and a heavy hand in other areas, even before the war with Russia in 2008. Saakashvili’s second term (2008-13) was much more controversial – his supporters saw continued reform under difficult circumstances, his opponents only the consolidation of power.Under Saakashvili Georgia does indeed deserve credit for its innovative reforms that were highly successful in reducing ‘low-level’ corruption. At the top, however, many UNM officials saw themselves as exempt: ‘high-level’ corruption continued and even expanded as the economy grew. Georgian Dream has not restored the ancien régime, but has allowed some patronage and clientelism to creep back into the system. The new Georgia has gained a reputation for ‘selective prosecution’; but some of this is dealing with causes célèbres from the Saakashvili era, while some is clearly persecution of the UNM.

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.

Bulgarian Anti-Corruption Reforms: A Lost Decade?

The Worldwide Governance Indicators show that Bulgaria has made significant progress in the area of “control of corruption” since 1996. This finding contrasts with the general opinion of the Bulgarian population who perceive Bulgarian institutions as corrupt, and contradicts the decision of the European Commission to continue monitoring Bulgaria’s progress in fighting corruption and organised crime. Hence, there is a need for careful consideration and analysis to understand how much progress Bulgaria has really made in the fight against corruption. Can Bulgaria be considered an anti-corruption success story?

In this paper, the authors seek to answer the above questions by providing a background analysis on Bulgaria’s governance regime. According to research, Bulgaria has made some progress in its transition from patrimonialism to open access order but the main features of its governance regime remain these of competitive particularism. In legal terms Bulgaria displays some open access order features but they do not translate into practical implementation.

Following the country’s EU accession in 2007 progress has been uneven, and has mostly been driven by civil society demands for change, which culminated in mass street protests in 2013. Progress in the political corruption domain has been limited. Power distribution in Bulgaria has opened up to competition but is still concentrated in few political party leaders and powerful business conglomerates, interlinked in a complex web of dependencies with former secret service and communist party elites, which still have privileged access to state resources. Convictions, in particular of high-ranking politicians and administrators are non-existent or rare, a sign that the rule of law and accountability have not yet taken hold in the country.

Domestic Implementation of Human Rights Judgments in Europe: Legal Infrastructure and Government Effectiveness Matter

Over the past couple of years, international law and international relations scholarship has shifted its focus from the question of whether human rights treaties bring any state-level improvements at all to investigations in the domestic context of the factors and dynamics influencing state compliance. In this direction, and focusing on the European Court of Human Rights, this study inquires into the factors that account for variable patterns of state compliance with its judgments. Why do national authorities in some states adopt a more prompt and responsive attitude in implementing these judgments, in contrast to other states that procrastinate or respond reluctantly? On the basis of a large-N study of the Strasbourg Court’s judgments and a comparison across nine states, this article argues that variation in state implementation performance is closely linked to the overall legal infrastructure capacity and government effectiveness of a state. When such capacity and effectiveness are high and diffused, the adverse judgments of the Strasbourg Court are unlikely to be obstructed or ignored, even when the government, political elites, or other actors are reluctant and not in favour of substantive remedies.

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 Long Transition to Good Governance: the Case of Estonia. Looking at the changes in the governance regime and anti-corruption policy

This paper deals with the post-communist positive outlier Estonia, which made according to international comparisons perhaps the most spectacular progress in the world, from a totalitarian regime to a quality democracy in less than twenty years. The country has seen improvement in all four dimensions of control of corruption described in the equilibrium model of Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (2011) since the restoration of its independence in 1991. The changes in the different dimensions happened almost simultaneously. During the first government of Mart Laar (1992-1995), policies that reduced material resources and strengthened legal constraints were implemented. Estonia pioneered important liberal reforms, for instance the adoption of a flat tax which then became very trendy in Eastern Europe and a very advanced e-government inspired from the neighbouring Finland. It also had the most radical policy towards Soviet time judiciary, replacing most of it and restarting practically all over with new magistrates. Normative constraints are also high, with a public opinion intolerant of particularism, an active civil society and a free press. The paper tries to explain why Estonian elites succeeded in promoting good governance and anti-corruption measures more than most other Central and Eastern European countries. In addition, author is looking for integrative understanding how to improve the control of political and administrative corruption mechanisms via the better regulation measures (e.g. impact assessment, participation, simplification) and support of political motivation.

Control of Corruption: the Road to Effective Improvement. Lessons from Six Progress Cases

In the last two decades, the emergence of an international good governance agenda has fostered the implementation of anti-corruption efforts in several countries. Nevertheless, recent assessments of those efforts reveal that the vast majority of initiatives have not produced concrete positive results. Only a few countries have made considerable progress in reducing corruption, and there is still limited knowledge about what has determined their positive experiences. This paper attempts to contribute to this discussion by engaging in a comparative analysis of six countries that have improved in terms of control of corruption. These countries are: Uruguay, Estonia, Botswana, Taiwan, South Korea and Ghana. The framework for analysis is based on a model of corruption as a function of power discretion, material resources and legal and normative constraints (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2010). Additionally, particular attention is paid to the role of political agents as drivers of change, with a focus on political leaders, civil society, media and enforcement institutions.

Romanian Coalition for a Clean Parliament: a Quest for Political Integrity

This book is about an anticorruption campaign that took place in Romania in 2004 and which prevented nearly one hundred controversial MPs from being reelected. While this campaign was considered original by many observers, the problems it addressed are widespread in the postcommunist world: political elites which at times look more like predatory elites, high state capture, constituencies with low civic competence and low interest in politics. This situation looks at times hopeless in the Balkans and former Soviet Union. But it is not. By and large, what we present here is a success story.