Measuring corruption: the rise and continued hegemony of the corruption perceptions index
Steven Sampson (Lund University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper compares Transparency International’s ranking of corrupt countries, the Corruption Perceptions Index, with lesser-known corruption indices of ‘state capture’. Our focus on the high impact 'success stories' has led us to overlook asking: why do so many other indices and rankings fail?
Paper long abstract:
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a ranking of least-to-most corruption countries first released by the NGO Transparency International in 1995, has become the most well-known measure of corruption, and the key branding icon for Transparency International (TI). Invariably northwest Europe and Australia are at the top of the list as least corrupt, authoritarian transition countries in the middle and various fragile or war-torn states at the very bottom. Despite many critiques from within and outside TI in validity and methodology, the CPI has maintained its place as the undisputed leader in measuring corruption and governance. It is used as a basis for determining foreign aid and for international loan and risk investment decisions. Several competing indices exist which try to measure not perceptions but actual practices of governance and corruption, but none of them match the CPI for impact and use. Why and how has the CPI persisted? This paper compares the CPI with other less well known indices, such as the Bribe Payers and State Capture indices. We need to answer a question of not just why the CPI has been so successful, but why so many other indices and rankings fail. Analyzing successful impact is easy. But failure of impact or indifference. How do we explain this? The author has carried out research on the anticorruption industry (anticorruptionism), and on Transparency International as an NGO.
Governing by numbers: audit culture, rankings and the New World (Re)order