Corruption as policy failure

Tune in to the news today, and the majority will be about corruption- South Africa and Brazil, the Panama Papers, FIFA, even France and the Trump administration. The good news is that increasingly, such stories are also about anticorruption, the fight of societies around the world against their own predators and the efforts to arrive at a government seeking social, and not personal welfare.

Corruption has always been, according to Acemoglu and Robinson's best-selling Why Nations Fail, a major form of extracting the lion's share from common resources to the benefit of the rulers, a perverse redistribution which reinforces power and income inequalities around the world. In this course we discuss corruption as a governance regime, and anticorruption not just as a repressive tool, but as a society's capacity to formulate, impose and sustain policies which promote merit and fairness versus an allocation of joint resources based on patronage, clientelism and corruption. In other words, we discuss corruption as a social practice and perverter of development, market and democracy.

Over 160 countries have signed to-date the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), pledging to equal treatment, integrity, transparency, accountability, and public consultation. So much universal agreement on what good governance has never existed before. But with the advent of globalization and economic crises, we have, in practice, witnessed a backslide even in more advanced democracies - with connections disputing merit as the main source of social advancement, coupled with abuse of public authority frequently being the number one source of wealth. Today, only less than a third of the countries in the world can claim to have reached reasonable control of corruption, although imperfect; for the rest, corruption is the rule of the game.

This course defines corruption from a policy perspective, explains how to diagnose it as either norm or exception (context diagnosis), how to measure it across countries and time so to assess effectiveness of policy interventions and deconstruct its mechanism for different for different policy areas (market competition, health and education). It present evidence why current anti-corruption measures frequently fail, and introduces an evidence-based approach to develop anticorruption strategies fitting local contexts. The course draws on state of the art methods and instruments generated by the two top corruption research projects ANTICORRP and DIGIWHIST funded by the European Union and two prestigious commissions to Hertie School to evaluate and improve on current anticorruption work by EU from the European Dutch Presidency 2016 and the Swedish government in 2017. The databases EuroPAM (joint with the World Bank, public accountability updated mechanism in 35 countries), TED (EC, EU-28 procurement), and the Index of Public Integrity (110 countries, corruption, structure and policy determinants) are also open to students to do research for class or future dissertations.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.