Institutional performance and social values: Mexico case study report

The contribution of The Basel Institute on Governance to ANTICORRP WP4, (the ethnographic study of corruption practices) involves field research in two countries: Mexico and Tanzania. This report describes the activities and findings form the research conducted in Mexico.

The report summarizes the results from the application in the Mexican context of the ethnographic survey on institutional performance and social values that all ANTICORRP partners working in WP4 have agreed upon and will apply in their respective case study countries. Additionally, the information on the survey is supplemented with additional insights that were obtained through semi-structured interviews with key informants as well as focus group discussions.

The field research in Mexico contributes to the ongoing work in WP4 in several ways.

First, by applying the standardized survey on institutional performance and social values to a Latin American context, it enriches the sample covered by the work of WP4. This is specially meaningful given the fact that the approach of this work package is that of ethnography. Therefore, inclusion of the Mexican case adds to the increase the breadth of cultural, demographic and geographical variation that the WP4 work will cover, contributing to the goal of bringing together a comprehensive view of how local contexts shape different understandings and perceptions of corruption.

Second, the field research in Mexico targets low-income, minority groups living in remote rural areas of the country. These groups, because they have been historically disempowered, and because their characteristics (rural, poor ethnic minorities) can make them especially hard to mobilize, are typically amongst the most vulnerable to corrupt practices. Therefore, developing a better understanding of the manner in which groups like these view their relationship with the institutions of the state and understand corruption is a necessary step to develop better approaches that can protect the most vulnerable from abuse of power.

Third, while the research in Mexico includes application of a shared research tool (the survey on institutional performance and social values) it also takes a unique perspective by placing the focus of the analysis on studying participatory initiatives to prevent corruption in the health sector. This angle will contribute to the overall WP4 effort by adding insights form the health sectors to the work in other sectors (e.g. education, business, electoral systems) that partners in WP4 are undertaking.