DSA2016: Politics in Development
- Antonio Andreoni (SOAS - University of London) email
- Mushtaq Khan (SOAS, University of London) email
- Pallavi Roy (SOAS, University of London ) email
Ambitious rule of law reforms or principal-agents approaches to anti-corruption have not worked. Policy should attack corruption where it has a high negative impact and policies are feasible given the 'political settlement' describing the relative power of the interests involved in the corruption.
This panel invites contributions addressing two types of weaknesses in anti-corruption policy. Some approaches have focused on ambitious policies to strengthen the rule of law or property rights. A second set driven by microeconomic principal-agent models sought to change behaviour with changes in incentives like better pay structures for bureaucrats, better monitoring and stricter punishments.
Neither approach delivered satisfactory results. They ignored critically important corruption interdependencies between individual calculations at the micro-level and political, social and cultural structures at the meso and macro-level. Conventional approaches also glossed over differences between sectors and the heterogeneity of firms and public agencies within and across countries. More critically, they ignored characteristics of the 'political settlements', and the norms, cultures and behaviours related to different social orders.
Our proposition is that in countries whose levels of development and political settlements do not yet allow effective collective enforcement of formal rules, policy should sequentially attack corruption at critical points where anti-corruption is both feasible and has a high impact. These critical points can be identified using a variety of methodological approaches and the panel invites contributions across disciplines. Over time this type of anti-corruption strategy is more likely to create conditions for structural transformation and the spread of productive capabilities. This will help the creation of a broad-based economy with more power centres likely to enforce formal rules in their own interest. This approach can eventually make possible more ambitious anti-corruption strategies targeting higher-level institutional characteristics like the rule of law or transparency and accountability.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Anti-Corruption in Adverse Contexts: A Strategic Approach
Anti-corruption strategies in adverse contexts have to combine impact with feasibility. Apart from improving the enforcement capacities of critical agencies, the thrust of the strategy has to be to change the incentives and capabilities of the stakeholders directly involved in the corruption.
Developing countries are characterized by political settlements where formal rules are weakly enforced. Anti-corruption strategies in these contexts focusing on the enforcement capacities of the formal state have typically delivered poor results. An alternative approach is to identify anti-corruption activities that are likely to have a high impact and that can be feasible in these contexts.
We suggest an approach for identifying high-impact and feasible anti-corruption strategies from the bottom up. This involves identifying the overlapping processes of corruption that are often simultaneously involved in particular corruption problems. We typically expect to see more than one overlapping set of processes driving corruption in the implementation of particular policies or institutions. By drawing on theories of rents and rent seeking, and of political settlements, we can assess the developmental impact of these corrupt processes and the relative power and capability of the interests driving and sometimes resisting these processes.
We argue that feasible anti-corruption cannot be based only on developing governance capabilities in critical agencies. The latter is only likely to be effective (given the limited gains in enforcement capacity that are plausible) if the interests and capabilities of some of the stakeholders involved in driving or resisting the relevant corruption can also be changed. We examine four related strategies for changing these incentives and capabilities and we argue that this can provide a framework for organizing research on the impact and feasibility of anti-corruption activities in different priority areas in target countries.
Guatemala: Transformation against the odds?
This paper discusses how the combination of a top-down, internationally-backed initiative against organised crime and a bottom up mass protest movement has played a crucial role in sowing the seeds for 'transformation against the odds' in Guatemala.
Corruption in Guatemala is deeply entrenched. Historically, the dominant elites have viewed the state as a source of personal enrichment and advancement. This paper discusses how the combination of an internationally-backed initiative against organised crime and a mass protest movement has played a crucial role in sowing the seeds for 'transformation against the odds' in Guatemala. The UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has opened up spaces that would have been near inaccessible in any other way, given Guatemala's highly exclusionary socio-economic and political system.
This, combined with public outrage at proof unearthed by the CICIG that President (and former military sytrongman) Otto Pérez Molina was not only head of state, but headed a parallel nationwide criminal structure of high-ranking officials and corrupt businessmen, has brought about unprecedented - and unexpected - change.
Thus, through a combination of "people's power" and a politically smart, internationally supported initiative to combat corruption, history has been made in Guatemala. Yet, while there is room for enthusiasm, history has taught us that it is much easier to get rid of undesired rulers than it is to build a political system that is inclusive, representative and accountable. The road ahead in Guatemala remains steep.
Using survey experiments to examine the effects of civil service designs on corruption in developing countries
The quality of public bureaucracy is widely regarded to be an important determinant of corruption. Recent contributions stress the merits of the classic Weberian model of bureaucracy, in particular, the positive impact of merit recruitment on lowering corruption. By contrast, the role of other features of Weberian bureaucracies such as separate employment laws, formal examination systems and permanent tenure remain contested. Moreover, studies of the impact of public sector wage levels have led to contradictory results.
The recent wave of research has typically been based on cross-country analyses that primarily rely on countrywide expert assessments of corruption and bureaucratic quality. These measures are routinely criticized for their validity; their reliance on the perception of external observers; the difficulty of comparing measurements across countries and time; and the politicization of governance indicators by policy-makers and the media.
Rather than adding to the chorus of critical voices, this paper aims to develop an alternative approach that takes the perspective of individual bureaucrats. Specifically, the paper will explore different survey techniques for the study of the impact of civil service designs on corruption in developing countries.
The paper will first present findings from a survey of ministerial bureaucrats in Eastern Europe on the relation between corruption and civil service laws, merit recruitment and the politicisation of appointments. Discussing the strengths and weakness of the existing approach, the paper will then develop an alternative approach that will rely on a mix of list experiments and conjoint survey experiments in order to gauge the causal effect of diverse civil service designs on corruption.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.