Gardiner, “Defining Corruption”

I like the general idea that corruption is diversion of resources from public to private purposes.

That’s not enough for Gardiner.

Originally published 1993

Look at separate problems (really separate?)

1. Corruption
Nye (1967) corruption is deviation from behavior norms because of private-regarding, pecuniary, or status gain. Includes bribery, nepotism, misappropriation.

Is this limited? Should it include abuse of power for other reasons? Yes..

Also, norms are vague and multi-contextual.

2. Abuse of Office

3. Business fraud , misbehavior, corruption.

Intimately linked to government corruption, but perhaps a separate topic sometimes.

4. Organized crime

Where do the “standards of behavior” come from?

1. Legal standards.

Clearly, if a law forbids something, then violating it to divert resources

But, what if laws are not formulated clearly?

What if Common Law is in place, where general ideas of common expectations play a role?

2. Public Interest

Even if an act is not against the law, it might be corrupt in the opinion of an observer.

Given many countries and contexts, this creates a lot of room for debate.

Think of the IMF trying to enforce anti-corruption policies in a country where people do not think something is wrong.

3. Public opinion

Perhaps expert observers disagree. So we go survey people.

p. 34 mentions Welch and Peterson survey, differentiates officials, donors, type of favor, and type of payoff.

p. 35 cites Johnston’s surveys.

Variations across Nations.

In Italy, a friend once told me that “tipping” in restaurants was a form of corruption.

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Things I wonder.

If government officials could have stopped the Enron company from ripping people off by fraud, but chose not to do so, then would we call that corruption?

Do we agree with this differentiation of “abuse of office” from “corruption”. Maybe it is good to keep things separated, but I’m not wasting any sleep over it.

About pauljohn

Paul E. Johnson is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas. He is an avid Linux User, an adequate system administrator and C programmer, and humility is one of his greatest strengths.
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