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Beyond the 'Big Bang'? Advancing Theories of Institutional Change in Anticorruption Research

Comparative Politics
Organised Crime
Public Policy
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Denis Saint-Martin
Université de Montréal
Panel Co-Chair
Bo Rothstein
University of Gothenburg
Panel Discussant
Ana Luiza Aranha
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais UFMG

29/08/2015 16:00 - 17:40
Building: Jean-Brillant Floor: 3 Room: B-3202
In recent years, new conceptions of systemic corruption as a dysfunctional informal institution consisting of a series of collective action dilemmas (social traps) have emerged in anticorruption research. These approaches emphasize the role of social norms and cultural beliefs as coordinating devices or mechanisms that sustain particular equilibria. Definitions of systemic corruption as an informal institution are a welcomed addition to the analyst’s toolkit. But they describe an all-encompassing form of corruption that leaves very little room for human agency. And they refer only to extreme cases, supposed to represent the exception more than the rule. Systemic corruption is typically associated to the developing world, not to rich countries with advanced welfare states. In anticorruption studies, the theory is that these countries were once systematically corrupted, but broke free from it in a revolutionary moment of abrupt and wholesale transformation. Bo Rothstein calls this the “big bang approach” to change, which suggests that societies cannot escape the “social trap” of systemic corruption gradually, but only through “dramatic”, radical reconfigurations. The big question then becomes How systemically corrupt social orders make the transition to a non or less corrupt one? Discontinuous models of change exaggerate the rupture between past and present and pay insufficient to the adaptive nature of corruption networks in societies. This especially the case in the developed world, where the theory assumes that corruption is residual, but where instances of endemic corruption in banking (the LIBOR scandal in the UK), in engineering (the downfall of SNC-Lavalin in Canada) or in construction (the Schiphol train tunnel in The Netherland) have recently been uncovered and led to major public inquiries. This panel invites papers that address the issue of change in anticorruption research.

Paper List

Title Details
Corruption Markets: Theory, Types and Dynamics View Paper Details
Family Business Ukraine: Centralisation of Political Corruption under the Presidency of V. Yanukovych View Paper Details
Systemic Corruption in an Advanced Welfare State: Lessons from the Québec Charbonneau Inquiry View Paper Details
The Different Faces of Corruption in Developing and Developed Areas View Paper Details
The Institutionalisation of the Culture of Corruption: Actors’ Games and the Institutional Environment. A Framework for Understanding Systemic Corruption View Paper Details
What is the Opposite of Corruption? View Paper Details
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