Master of Public Policy   Master of International Affairs  

The policy analysis of corruption

This course defines corruption from a government failure perspective and introduces an evidence-based approach to developing anti-corruption 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 (EU) and three prestigious commissions to the Hertie School to evaluate and improve on current anti-corruption work by the EU – from the European Dutch Presidency 2016, the Swedish government in 2017, and the German government in 2017-2018. It is also an introduction to the growing global anti-corruption community.  

According to Acemoğlu and Robinson's best-selling 'Why Nations Fail', corruption is a major form of extracting the lion's share of common resources to benefit the rulers, a perverse redistribution that reinforces power and income inequalities around the world. In this course, we discuss corruption as a governance regime and anti-corruption not just as a repressive tool, but as a society's capacity to formulate, impose and sustain policies that 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, the market and democracy.

To date, over 180 countries have signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), pledging equal treatment, integrity, transparency, accountability and public consultation. So much universal agreement on what good governance is has never existed before. But with the advent of globalisation and economic crises, we have, in practice, witnessed a backsliding even in more advanced democracies – with connections disputing merit as the main source of social advancement, coupled with the abuse of public authority frequently being the number one source of wealth. Today, less than a third of the countries of the world can claim to have reached reasonable (although imperfect) control over corruption. For the other two thirds, corruption is the rule of the game and changing this situation is a major policy and often political challenge.

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