Measuring real (de facto) transparency by a new index

At ERCAS we are particularly interested in the relation between transparency and corruption, and the claim that the former helps to reduce the latter. To study this we need a more direct and fact-based measurement of transparency. This is our goal with the T-Index: to supply a tool that measures actual transparency, focusing on capturing dimensions that are relevant for controlling corruption.

We also introduce an important distinction between de jure and de facto transparency. A real divorce can exist between formal (de jure) laws and concrete policy (de facto) practices, as ERCAS has shown in our previous research. Existing comparative measures of transparency rely mainly on the formal side. What we propose is to assess also de facto transparency, and we do this by observing directly the existence of public data in relevant domains, its accessibility and coverage, i.e. the practice of transparency rather than just the legal provision of it or its formal presence.

The T-Index brings important advantages for public policy and good governance. It helps to establish benchmarks of transparency and, thus, inform a very specific reform agenda. It also offers an international ranking based on facts, not perceptions, which may not only incentivize countries to progress but also offer specific policy targets. Finally, it allows policy-relevant research, as the resulting measurement can be tested in relation to curbing corruption.

This Working Paper explains how the T-Index data was collected and assessed to score more than 120 countries. For key findings and the full dataset, visit the T-Index project page.

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

When do anticorruption laws matter? The evidence on public integrity enabling contexts

This paper asks if there is evidence that the most common legislation recommended and used in the current anticorruption toolkit is effective in reducing corruption and if specific contexts can be identified which enable or disable effective legislation for control of corruption. The paper draws on documented public accountability and anticorruption tools from the PAM, the public accountability mechanisms database of the World Bank, and documents additional ones, including an index of anticorruption regulatory density, comprising anticorruption agencies, existence of an Ombudsman, restrictions to party finance legislation and others. While only fiscal transparency and financial disclosures are found to be significant, the interaction of some tools with context elements, such as freedom of the press of independence of the judiciary enhances their impact. The paper argues finally that the effectiveness of some anticorruption tools is strictly dependent on context, especially the existence of the rule of law, while others remain fully insignificant.

Questions and Answers on Romania’s Anti-Corruption Implosion – Updated

In this brief report, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi answers key questions on the recent events in Romania regarding the passing of Ordinance 13/2017. This report covers questions on the ordinance itself, the protests which were triggered by it and the fight against corruption in Romania. The report was updated on 13 February 2017.

Measuring Control of Corruption by a New Index of Public Integrity

While the last 20 years saw the invention of corruption rankings, allowing comparison between countries and the shaming of corrupt governments, such measurements are largely based on the perceptions of experts, lacking both specificity and transparency. New research, based on a comprehensive theory of governance defined as the set of formal and informal institutions determining who gets what in a given context, allow for more specific and objective, albeit indirect, measurements of control of corruption. Such measurements focus on the institutional framework which empowers public integrity and eliminates many current anti-corruption tools, while validating others. Most importantly, it provides a broader specific context which can empower reforms based on evidence and a clear measure to determine status and progress of corruption control.

Public Integrity and Trust in Europe

This report on trust and integrity in Europe was commissioned by the Dutch EU Presidency 2016 to a group of research institutes associated in the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project lead by Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

The report argues that economic performance alone does not explain the sometimes dramatic decline in trust in government. Europeans in many member states perceive a serious drop in the quality of governance, and the failure of current policies to redress it. Only in a minority of countries in present-day Europe we encounter a clear majority believing that success in either the public or private sector is due to merit. More than half of Europeans believe that the only way to succeed in business in their country is through political connections. Less than a quarter of Europeans agree that their government’s efforts in tackling corruption are effective. The countries where citizens perceive higher integrity and better governance are those that managed to preserve high levels of trust in government despite the economic crisis.

In pointing at these factors contributing to the growing loss of trust in national and European institutions throughout EU-28 the report takes major steps in helping to understand this crisis. It formulates lessons learned from this review if evidence and hopes to inform the policy debate on how to address the apparent lack of public integrity in Europe. The report introduces a new ranking of public integrity for the 28 EU Member States, representing the first ranking using objective measurements of public integrity in the EU.

Press coverage

News on this report was featured in the Greek News Agenda, the New East Platform and VoxEurop.

Measuring Control of Corruption by a New Index of Public Integrity

While the last twenty years saw the invention of corruption rankings, allowing comparison over countries and the shaming of corrupt governments, such measurements are largely based on perceptions of experts, lacking both specificity and transparency. New research, based on a comprehensive theory of governance defined as the set of formal and informal institutions determining who gets what in a given context, allows more specific and objective, although indirect measurements of control of corruption. Such measurements focus on the institutional framework which empowers public integrity and eliminates many current anticorruption tools, while validating others. Most importantly, it provides a broader specific context which can empower reforms based on evidence and a clear measure to determine status and progress of corruption control.

This research was made possible by support of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project (Grant agreement no: 290529) at the Hertie School of Governance.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 3: Government Favouritism in Europe

This volume reunites the fieldwork of 2014-2015 in the ANTICORRP project. It is entirely based on objective indicators and offers both quantitative and qualitative assessments of the linkage between political corruption and organised crime using statistics on spending, procurement contract data and judicial data. The methodology used in the analysis of particularism of public resource distribution is applicable to any other country where procurement data can be made available and opens the door to a better understanding and reform of both systemic corruption and political finance. The main conclusion of this report is that public procurement needs far more transparency and monitoring in old Member States, where it is far from perfect, as well as new ones and accession countries, where major problems can be identified, partly due to more transparency and monitoring.This policy report is the third volume of the policy series “The Anticorruption Report” produced in the framework of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP Project. The report was edited by Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, PhD from the Hertie School of Governance, head of the policy pillar of the project.

Print and e-book versions of all full reports can be purchased here.

Reviews for this publication

Public infrastructure projects and other types of government procurement almost everywhere in the world suffer from favoritism and corruption, if not outright criminality. The spoils always go to the people with the right connections, wealth, or the willingness to use or threaten violence. This is among the most difficult aspects of governance for scholars to study: those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk. This slim volume summarizes detailed studies of favoritism in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. A final chapter shows how criminal organizations in many countries—including Mafia-like groups in Bulgaria and Italy—infiltrate national and EU-level public spending projects. Each chapter is packed with a remarkably rich set of charts, graphs, and statistical analyses that capture how much corruption exists and how it works. These succinct and eye-opening quantitative estimates of what really goes on beneath the surface of government make for indispensable reading and should straighten out anyone who doubts that the powerful always find ways to reinforce their influence and wealth, even on the “cleanest” of continents.

Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University in Foreign Affairs

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.

Fixing Europe Is About Performance, Not Democracy

The gradual drop in public confidence in the EU since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis indicates an erosion of the long-held belief among citizens and elites alike that European integration is the best option to secure a better future. But is it EU democracy that is being challenged here, or is democracy itself challenging the prospects for EU integration? To answer this question, this article briefly reviews first-hand evidence of the basis of trust and the loss of it in European institutions. The evidence is dealt with at a national rather than individual level, and comprises mostly survey data and primary facts that can inform a policy argument. This article does not offer a full explanation of populism nor of attitudes to democracy or globalization, each of which clearly deserve an article in their own right. Instead, it uses data to deconstruct the myths of the EU loss of confidence and its connection with democracy. The two main factors found to decrease trust in the EU are economic growth and confidence in national governments’ performance in terms of controlling corruption.

Bottom of the Heap. The Case of Romania

The suspension of EU payments in four operational programmes in 2012 showed how problematic Romania’s correct and effective management of EU funds is. Such funds aim primarily at decreasing the socio-economic disparities among EU members and support the economic convergence with their Western counterparts of less developed new EU members. Consequently, a poor absorption rate of EU funds threatens income convergence between old and new member countries, thus representing a major challenge for EU integration. Currently, Romania has the poorest absorption rate among all the EU Member States and the worst among the ten new Member States. Moreover, the financial corrections, which amount to roughly 22% of the assimilated European funds, further reduce the real absorption rate, a loss which can be attributed entirely to corruption and mismanagement. The present report investigates the proportion of EU funds which can reasonably be considered at risk because of mismanagement and corruption, asks what are the main defrauding tactics used at national level to obtain European money illicitly, and considers the extent to which the suspension or cancellation of EU assistance might be the best policy for dealing with the situation. In addition, the report will put forward a list of recommendations for the next EU programming period which are intended to mitigate the effects of corruption and mismanagement that result in a waste of public resources.

Hidden Depths. The Case of Hungary

This report investigates corruption risk of EU funds spending in Hungary within the framework of the Public Procurement Law. Its finding is that in spite of what is a tight regulatory framework EU funds are likely to fuel the abuse of public spending. Even though public procurement using EU funds faces considerably more stringent regulation, their use poses much greater corruption risks when compared with funds procured domestically and corruption risks are particularly pronounced for large projects. The report also argues that large-scale institutionalized corruption in Hungary may be widespread and driven primarily by political cycles. Such corruption, often labeled “legal corruption”, typically involves neither bribery nor collusion between lower level bureaucrats and private individuals; rather, it operates through contractual relationships which benefit the highest echelons of the political and business elite. There are a small number of new anti-corruption initiatives of the new government which entered office in 2010, but while they might indicate a positive step towards higher public sector integrity, their results are yet to be seen.

FOIA as an Anti-Corruption Tool

This paper tests, explores and exemplifies the role of freedom of information legislation as an anti-corruption tool. In the first part, its tests freedom of information separately and in comparison with other more popular anti-corruption tools, such as an anti-corruption agency. In the second part, it proposes a more elaborated model explaining control of corruption and argues that transparency legislation is intermediated by the existence of civil society and does not work in its absence. In its last and final part it exemplifies with a project in Romania how freedom of information can be used as an integrity building tool.

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.