At the 3rd International Conference on Public Policy, which took place at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore from Wednesday 28th June to Friday 30th June 2017, ICRN members organised a panel on the definition of corruption as a public problem, looking both at mainstream and alternative theoretical underpinnings. The panel was divided in three sessions on (i) the problem boundaries ; (ii) critical anti-corruption perspectives ; and (iii) the determinents of corruption. This panel was bridged with two others on corruption and integrity, chaired by Denis Saint-Martin with Daniel Weinstock, and Adam Graycar with A J Brown.
Corruption as a Public Problem: Do Policymakers Need a New Perspective?
Chair : Steven Gawthorpe, Charles University Prague
Second Chair : Sofia Wickberg, Sciences Po Paris
Third Chair : Giulia Mugellini, Università della Svizzera italiana
Corrupt practices are by no means a new phenomenon, in the past three decades however, corruption has been reframed and thus emerged as a ‘policy problem’; a deviance from good governance standards. This process of (re)politicisation of corruption goes parallel to the seminal work led mainly by Rose-Ackerman and Klitgaard presenting corruption as a principal-agent dilemma. Klitgaard’s 1988 corruption formula C=M+D-A (corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability) has indeed been central to anti-corruption efforts with a predominant focus on cost-benefits analyses, competition most notable monitoring and control mechanisms in the form of transparency programs (Persson, Rothstein and Teorell, 2013). The road to hell is however paved with good intentions, and the ubiquitous usage of ’best practices’ in anti-corruption programs overlooks the premise that problems are ambiguous, problem criterion are volatile change and thus policy strategies might be ineffective or have even reverse effects. Corruption as a public problem is rife with standardization of problem definitions leading to error of the third type: we are attempting to solve the wrong problem.
This panel seeks to aid policymakers to craft more effective interventions and assistance programs that encourage and support good governance. We aim to harmonize varying conceptualizations to provide policymakers with new perspectives, data enrichment, and grounded recommendations directly applicable to improving anti-corruption assistance and intervention strategies. Given the challenge of corruption, this panel will be of value across the international policy community.
The full list of papers presented in the panel can be found here under T09P14.