DSA2016: Politics in Development
This panel builds on recent advanced theoretical work on corruption and its control, combining principal-agent, collective action, and corruption-as-problem-solving analysis, to consider how thinking and working more "politically" may help better address corruption.
This panel builds on recent advanced theoretical work on corruption and its control, combining principal-agent, collective action, and corruption-as-problem-solving analysis, to consider how thinking and working more "politically" may help better address corruption. In the light of accumulating evidence for the underperformance of anti-corruption interventions, recent research has revisited the theoretical underpinnings of these interventions to gain new insights, arguing for a move away from principal-agent based interventions to ones that emphasise collective action. Though not without its own limits, a collective action perspective helps to focus attention on the inherently political nature of corruption, and the insight that corruption, while undoubtedly a social bad, can nonetheless provide practical solutions to real-life problems that individuals face, offering functionality in social, political and economic transactions where no better mechanisms may exist. The political character of corruption, and the need to think and work politically to address it, has implications for the generation of operational research evidence.
This panel seeks to push both analytical and empirical boundaries and to contribute to current debates about thinking and working politically and adaptive programming applied to anti-corruption work.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Tackling corruption: can't we do better?
Corruption is not black and white, and more nuanced approaches are essential to combat it effectively. Anti-corruption initiatives need to be more politically aware, better attuned to contextual realities, and more flexible and strategic. In other words, they need to ‘think and work politically’.
Few challenges in international development ignite as much passion, emotion and even vitriol as corruption. But this does not mean that combating it is straightforward. Corruption is not only a moral problem that needs to be fought, but a social problem that needs to be better understood so as to address it effectively. This paper argues that it is essential to move away from an approach to corruption as the worst of all evils that can be eliminated without collateral damage, towards a more nuanced approach that moves beyond such oversimplified narratives. The causes and effects of corruption are far from black and white, and as difficult and uncomfortable as this might be, they need to be understood in the full complexity of their shading. As a growing body of evidence has begun to suggest, zero tolerance approaches to corruption can in fact cause more harm than good, and this should give pause for thought.
A crucial implication from existing research and practice this is that, if anti-corruption initiatives are to be effective, they need to be much more politically aware and attuned to contextual realities - which also means that they need to work quite differently from how they do now. Programmes and projects need to be smarter and more strategic: more flexible and adaptable, more humble and realistic about what they can accomplish, especially in light of extremely short time frames, and more willing to tolerate risks and setbacks. In other words, they need to 'think and work politically'.
Why do states establish anti-corruption agencies? Drivers of institutional diffusion
. The paper systematically examines different explanations for why states decide to establish ACAs, providing evidence for the international and domestic drivers of institutional diffusion.
Between 1994 and 2014, the number of anti-corruption commissions has dramatically increased. This raises three important questions: first, why do states adopt a seemingly ineffective institution? Second, why do they make this specific institutional choice? Third, given that corruption is seen as culturally specific, what might explain the uniformity in the adoption of this institution?
The literature has so far provided little evidence for the dynamics driving the diffusion of anti-corruption agencies. This paper fills this gap. It builds on existing explanations for policy diffusion and combines these will a novel and global dataset of anti-corruption agencies. We integrate the domestic, regional and international level in our framework to assess the impact domestic variables or external factors may have. Specifically, we theorise that the diffusion of anti-corruption agencies may be directly driven by donor coercion and norm entrepreneurs or indirectly through neighbourhood competition and norm emulation. We also ask whether a strong civil society demanding the need for an ACA effects the establishment of an institution, as well as a change in political leadership.
Getting the (right) message? Is the fight against corruption increasing voter apathy?
Based on an original household survey-experiment in Jakarta, this study examines whether and how messages about corruption and anticorruption influence attitudes towards fighting corruption, willingness to report corruption, and willingness to be otherwise politically involved.
Do messages about the pervasiveness of corruption turn people off from participating in a civil society based fight to control corruption? Do messages that highlight the government's success in fighting corruption inspire anticorruption activism? How do messages about corruption influence willingness to be politically active, in general? Based on an original household survey-experiment in Jakarta, this study examines whether and how messages about corruption and anticorruption influence willingness to report corruption, and to be otherwise politically involved. A few preliminary findings seem most important. Political apathy seems to increase when people are exposed to stories about pervasive corruption. Willingness to report corruption seems to be uninfluenced by stories of how pervasive corruption is. However, people may be inspired by messages that emphasise the government's successes in fighting corruption, when thinking about whether or not they want to engage in civil action against corruption.
Does decentralisation just decentralise corruption? The political economy of corruption and multilevel governance
Theory and evidence on the impact of decentralisation on corruption remain mixed. This paper presents analytical approaches to incorporating political drivers of decentralisation and corruption into understandings of decentralisation and its relationship with corruption.
The theoretical literature and the empirical evidence on the impact of decentralisation on corruption remains inconsistent. Some models argue that decentralisation should reduce corruption through more accountable and transparent local governance, while others suggest more autonomy and actors increase opportunities for corruption. At the same time, empirical studies find that the relationship between decentralisation and corruption is far from clear.
Interestingly, these findings echo inconsistent evidence on the impact of decentralisation on development outcomes such as services and conflict management. This ambiguity is in part due to inadequate specification and understanding of both decentralisation and corruption. It also has roots in a gap between the theoretical benefits of decentralisation and variations in the implementation of decentralisation policies as expressed in the autonomy enjoyed by local governments, the functioning of intergovernmental relationships, local accountability, and the coherence of reforms across political, administrative and fiscal dimensions.
Similarly, studies often do not disaggregate corruption. Corruption involves different organisational dynamics: for example, between 'top-down', in which higher level officials buy in lower ones, and 'bottom-up' in which rents collected locally are distributed upwards. Regional and global factors such as organised crime and economic interdependencies also shape corruption at both national and local levels.
Both these qualities of decentralisation and dynamics of corruption are shaped by the political drivers behind and within decentralisation processes, and the nature of political settlements that influence patterns of rent-seeking within a given context. This paper presents analytical approaches to better incorporating these factors into understandings of decentralisation and its relationship with corruption.
The role of elite alliances in subverting efforts to eliminate corruption in Pakistan
For Pakistan’s elite, many forms of corruption are seen as normative and inevitable. I examine the informal practices that have led to a culture of impunity amongst the nation’s most powerful, and the lessons for development programs emerging from rising domestic demands for accountability.
For Pakistan's elite, many forms of corruption have come to be seen as normative, inevitable, and often, as morally acceptable. I examine this phenomenon through an exploration of how the Pakistani elite construct and maintain their position of privilege and power in Pakistan's unstable political and economic environment through the relationships they develop with powerful actors within the state structure. Drawing on ethnographic examples, I examine the alliances that have emerged between the families who own the nation's major industrial and business assets, national and regional politicians, and the senior-most bureaucrats who lead the nation's regulatory bodies. I examine the specific informal business, political and social processes through which corruption is enacted, and hidden from public view. In doing so, I highlight how social ties and obligations contribute to a culture of impunity, protect privilege, and exacerbate social inequality. The final section of the paper examines rising demands for greater government transparency and accountability within the popular media, and some of the promising results achieved by the regulatory agencies tasked with investigating and prosecuting corruption. The results of these efforts—both their successes and failures—provide valuable lessons for government agencies, and the international donors who seek to support them, in successfully targeting and reducing government corruption.
The normative topography of anti-corruption in Central Asia: the interdependence of formal and informal rules, procedures, and institutions
Legal dimensions of anti-corruption policy (institutions, rules and procedures) form a reciprocally conditioning system with targeted background informal norms . The resulting complex normative topography for anti-corruption policy (int’l and national) is studied in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Anti-corruption discourse and practice have both been dominated by a narrow set of analytic approaches and policy responses. The specifically legal entailments of anti-corruption policy, at the level both of international donor interventions and of national implementation measures, are often taken for granted and have only rarely come in for focussed critique. Whether in the form of anti-corruption institutions or substantive and procedural rules (legislation and regulations), they have typically proved formulaic and mechanical and rarely reflect any socio-legal sophistication or reckoning with local context. From a broader informal governance perspective (rather than a narrower anti-corruption focus), the operation of formal anti-corruption rules and institutions (and changes to them) must be understood as both conditioned by and themselves conditioning informal systems (which also consist of rules albeit tacit and institutions albeit unchartered) in a complex interdependence in its own right. This paper will examine the 'normative topography' (formal and informal rules and institutions) for anti-corruption in contemporary Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) and address donor policies/recommendations and national responses/initiatives. This is not simply a matter of the complexity of gauging the incentives and disincentives shaping certain (problematic) patterns of behaviour and practices but of coming to terms with their social, cultural and normative embeddedness and the manner in which changes to the formal norms can produce compensatory adjustments in the informal norms. Moreover it means reconceptualising the informal repertoire (and governing norms) not as the default target of policy interventions but as their context and even potential instrument.
Is interventionist regulation a path to corruption? A study on the outcomes of the privatization process of the telecommunication sector in Brazil, Germany, Italy and Mexico
This paper aims at identifying whether interventionist regulation might be a path to corruption. We answer the question through the analysis of the outcomes generated by the telecommunication sector's privatization in Brazil, Germany, Italy and Mexico during the 1990s.
The literature evaluating the impacts of corruption is vast but scarce when it comes to explaining why corruption was initiated. This paper aims to present a contribution to the field by identifying whether interventionist regulation might be a path to corruption. The outcome might be helpful to improve privatization reforms and the legislation framework of regulated sectors.
It takes into consideration the ideal types of governance suggested by Knill (2004) to narrow its corpus to the telecommunication sector which was heavily impacted in Brazil, Germany, Italy and Mexico since the privatization of the sector took place in the 1990s.
The methodology is based on case analyses of the privatization process and its outcomes in the four selected countries. After a literature review aiming at defining a conceptual framework, we describe the whole process in each country, their regulatory boundaries and alleged corruption cases. Finally, we argue on the linkages between these scandals and the adopted regulation.
Our assumption is that interventionist regulation might be a path to corruption when, as evidenced by the analyzed cases, a newly created oligopoly concentrates a high amount of economic power while being restricted by strict regulatory boundaries.
Destructive competition in Petro populist structure: evidences from Iran
This paper addresses the rent distributive effect of Iranian electoral rules which brings petro populism as a structural characteristic of political economy.
Petro populism has been widely debated in the political economy literature by scholars such as Parenti (2005), Looney (2007), Foroohar (2009), Matsen, Norvic and Torvik (2016). Most of the studies analyzed this phenomenon as a political agenda in rentier states. This paper argues that Petro populism is not only an agenda on the part of some political leaders in Iran as a state-led developing country but also a more structural characteristic of the political economy. According to the constitution of Islamic republic of Iran, only individual candidates -even with factional tendencies- can take part in competitions. Although establishing parties is not prohibited but they don't have specific position in electoral rules. so electoral rules have established the direct accountability of representatives toward voters; hence, even a candidate who only cares about his/her seat will promise voters public, and even, private goods and services, because it increases his chance of being (re)elected. While this incentive satisfies voters, it has the adverse effect of massive increases in government expenditures and hurting the economic interests of the country. The most significant effect of this system is that even non-populist politicians should enter, to some extent, this destructive competition for rent-distribution. I have used content analysis on parliamentary debates transcripts in 1989-2004, which is known as a more pragmatic era in the history of the Islamic Republic to show what type of governmental policies had been considered by the parliament's members.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.