06 Nov 2013

Who is Succeeding and Why?

ANTICORRP researchers gather in Hamburg to discuss corruption indicators and compare contemporary anti-corruption achievements in a number of countries.

Do world governance charts correctly reflect who has made the biggest strides in building control of corruption?

Researchers from the European Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) research project ANTICORRP assembled during the weekend of 25-27 October at a workshop hosted by the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg for a first round of discussion of contemporary global ‘achievers’ – thirteen countries which have managed to reach control of corruption in recent decades.

The research meeting is part of ANTICORRP WP3 “Corruption and Governance Improvement in Global and Continental Perspective” chaired by Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi. The countries discussed are Botswana (David Sebudubudu), Bulgaria (Ruslan Stefanov/Alexander Stoyanov), Chile (Alfredo Rehren), Costa Rica (Bruce Wilson), Croatia (Munir Podumljak/Ana Hećimović), Estonia, Latvia (both Valts Kalnins), Poland (Grzegorz Makowski), Qatar (Lina Khatib), Rwanda (Alessandro Bozzini), South Korea (Thomas Kalinowski), Taiwan (Christian Göbel), Uruguay (Daniel Buquet / Rafael Piñeiro). A full list of background papers and authors is available here.

The case selection stems from a recent report by researchers at the Hertie School, which compared anti-corruption successes and failures across eight global regions.

These countries were selected according to their World Bank Control of Corruption ratings. All are either regional outliers, which are performing much better than the rest of the countries in their continent and/or are global achievers with a statistically significant change in their score between 1996 and 2010.

Graph Presenting Selected Anti-corruption Achievers
Control of Corruption 1996 – 2010 for Hamburg Workshop Cases


While publication of a select number of these reports is not due until early next year, the group has already discussed the challenge of finding reliable indicators of corruption and control of corruption to confirm or inform the Control of Corruption World Bank indicator. Dr. Christian von Soest, of GIGA summarized: “Perception-based indicators are fine as a starting point but then you need to get some real data to be able to assess governance and trace its change across time.”

However, a couple of countries, namely Rwanda and Qatar, were notable for their complexity that belies description in mere statistical terms. As Kevin Köhler of King’s College London noted, “Although we were talking about achievers, country experts seem to have a lot of doubts about these achievements. This is something that’s surprising to me, not being an expert on these countries but actually considering them as models for comparison with other countries.”

For instance, 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. Even though corruption in Rwanda is undoubtedly lower than in its regional neighbours, the country is not as successful as some believe. The case of Rwanda suggests that petty or administrative corruption can in some cases be a very different issue from grand or political corruption, as curbing the former does not necessarily mean reducing the latter. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, Rwanda shows that relative success in the fight against bribery is not necessarily associated, as many would assume, with high levels of accountability, transparency and citizen participation. Hence, confirming the need, when investigating corruption, to analyse the broader governance context of a country: one of the key starting propositions of the ANTICORRP research project.

To wrap up the workshop, Professor Mungiu-Pippidi, presented state of the art second-generation governance indicators, which can be used for process tracing of the successful change in governance.