Although the study of corruption has received increasing attention over the past decades, the theoretical progress of its earlier years has been relegated to a passive comment in most quantitative studies, resulting in an underdeveloped field as a whole. To address the persistent gap in theory, this paper explicitly adopts a currently prevalent definition of corruption—i.e. the abuse of entrusted power for private gain—and explores its meaning, nature, and theoretical evolution from the earliest human bands to the present era. As a result, this study finds that corruption can be understood in a more productive way by reference to the level of political agency enjoyed at any given time and place, thus allowing for a more grounded comparative research and the potential identification of social patterns which sustain corruption tolerance.
Despite progress made over the past two decades, current international anti-corruption efforts continue to struggle with implementation issues in individual nations. The present study proposes an approach to anti-corruption policy implementation that considers the fight against public malfeasance in terms of its potential costs and benefits for political leadership. The existence of a political cycle for anti-corruption initiatives is proposed and tested through an examination of Peru’s National Anti-Corruption Commission from 2001 to 2005. The empirical analysis supports the theoretical tenets, showing how the government of President Toledo created and later devolved the anti-corruption commission due to private interests and political circumstances.
Actualmente, es posible considerar a la corrupción pública como el fenómeno más insidioso y peligroso para el desarrollo económico, político y social del país. La reacción tanto local como internacional a los recurrentes escándalos, sin embargo, ha sido mayormente incapaz de traducirse en la correcta implementación de políticas públicas efectivas. ¿Por qué las demandas públicas de lucha contra la corrupción no logran romper definitivamente el statu quo? El presente artículo plantea el reconocimiento formal de incentivos ilícitos y de capital político como elementos claves que explican el nivel de voluntad política detrás de la lucha contra la corrupción. Sobre esta premisa, se propone el análisis del fenómeno de la corrupción en base a cuatro escenarios posibles en que su presencia produce estrés sobre el sistema político y amenaza la estabilidad del statu quo: (i) ineficiencia en procesos, (ii) percepción pública, (iii) intolerancia adquirida y (iv) negligencia acumulada. Por medio de la discusión de casos específicos ocurridos en las últimas tres décadas en el Perú, el artículo describe las estrategias gubernamentales que fueron adoptadas en cada ocasión para reducir demandas y estimular el apoyo popular, y que finalmente reflejaron la postura particular de los actores políticos de turno.
Most countries across the globe, particularly in the developing world, continue showing a failure to implement anti-corruption reforms in line with national and international commitments. This situation is especially disheartening when the amount of resources the international community has poured into them is considered, as well as the level of academic interest and production this issue has attracted. Thus, a core question has remained unanswered: What is holding back the fight against corruption? In the present study, a theoretical model to understand the support and opposition to anti-corruption reforms, and the identification of strategies available to international and domestic actors, is developed following a systems approach. The model suggests that different patterns of stress on the political system, together with the availability of a variety of strategies to stimulate political support, make governmental actors able to resist reform even on the face of societal and international pressure.
Are national leaders really invested in curbing corruption in their countries? The present paper addresses the realpolitik basis of national anti-corruption measures by positing the persistence of a political cost-benefit analysis behind initiatives to curb public malfeasance, which leads to the adoption and implementation of mostly symbolic policies regardless of public discourse. The model is tested by reviewing in detail the adoption and political management of the Peruvian National Anti-Corruption Office between 2007 and 2008. The analysis confirms the theoretical expectations and provides ample evidence of the political instrumentalization of the anti-corruption agenda during the administration of President Alan García Pérez (2006-2011).
Regardless of the progress made in the past two decades by the international anti-corruption movement in terms of its financial, technical, and human resources, the implementation of effective policies by national governments have rarely been in line with their discursive and legal commitments. Furthermore, literary progress on the subject has been hard pressed to find feasible solutions to the lack of political will hindering the adoption of domestic anti-corruption reforms. The present study addresses this issue by reinterpreting the meaning of political will for domestic anti-corruption activities, positing that anti-corruption, contrary to most other types of policies, cannot be stimulated solely by the promise of political support for reformist leaders: rather, it responds to the leadership’s calculus of both political capital and illegal profits. In other words, anti-corruption is only possible when it is appealing to the particular interests of a specific set of political leaders. This approach is tested by assessing the Peruvian experience with the adoption of a National Anti-Corruption Plan between 2001 and 2013. The empirical analysis shows that, contrary to the international emphasis on technical assistance as a vehicle for change, the attempts to adopt a national plan to fight corruption in Peru have closely followed the state and evolution of political events, driven mostly by the necessity to stimulate support for the incumbent party while also kept from affecting the status quo. At the end, the study concludes that the characteristics of the political leadership and context were the primary force behind any symbolic or genuine efforts to elaborate an official National Anti-Corruption Plan, which, notwithstanding its recurrent emergence in the government agenda, has yet to be institutionalized as a proper mechanism to support the fight against public malfeasance.
Since the beginning of the past decade, the tolerance of corruption by citizens of most Latin American countries has become a concept in its own right within the broader study of corruption. This construct, however, lacks a systematic approach and is yet to account for specific types of corruption tolerance or identify appropriate indicators to measure them. The present study addresses these voids for the case of low-level corruption by examining citizen engagement in bribery through the lens of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPC), a theoretical framework that suggests that behavior is a result of three different individual measures: Attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived control. Thus, contrary to the preference for purely attitudinal indicators traditionally adopted by academic literature, the TPB rejects considering these as proxy for actual behavior. Following this argument, a strictly behavioral indicator is then suggested as the most appropriate operationalization of low-level corruption tolerance, and tested against the common attitudinal measurement strategy using data provided by LAPOP’s AmericasBarometer 2006 for Peru (a typical case for the incidence of bribery in Latin America) and the Global Corruption Barometer. The results indicate that attitudes toward specific types of low-level corruption should not be equated to citizens’ decisions to engage in such behavior, as they are not statistically associated once we disaggregate low-level corruption tolerance between cases of collusion and extortion. They further suggest that the study of corruption tolerance has the potential to greatly improve our understanding of the determinants of corruption in developing countries as long as strict measurement decisions are taken.
Due to the exponential increase in the number and quality of empirical corruption studies spawned from the introduction of quantitative instruments, some necessary theoretical aspects of the phenomenon have somehow fallen behind in the academic agenda. One such example of empirical attention without proper conceptual construction is the case of ‘corruption tolerance’, or the acceptance and support of corrupt activities. The present study sets out to trace the emergence and employment of corruption tolerance as an academic concept, and building on past literature proposes a vertical accountability approach that operationalizes it on behavioral (or action-based) terms as opposed to previous attitude-centered approaches: Citizens must be able to accurately perceive corruption when relevant information is available, adjust their opinions of the involved actors according to that information, and punish in some way the corrupt actors. Failure to reach any of these steps results in the citizen’s behavioral adherence to condone the corrupt behavior of the political actor. To test the extent of the consequences of this departure from attitudes, an empirical indicator of high-level corruption tolerance based on the voting behavior of citizens in the 2006 presidential elections in Peru is constructed, and ordered logistic regression analysis is employed to address the effects of attitudes over behavior regarding high-level corruption. The results show that ‘attitudes’ only marginally affect an individual’s behavior, and hence they can best be understood as one among other determinants of corruption tolerance. This result highlights the necessity to reevaluate the implications for policy implementation of previous studies on the subject.