This deliverable develops a novel approach to the study of corruption in public administrations by focusing on the analysis of ethnographic field data. Corruption is a complex topic which can be best tackled through an interdisciplinary perspective. In spite of the sophisticated theorizations and empirical (mostly quantitative) analyses, so far few attempts have been taken to investigate the social and cultural factors that underline citizens’ perception of the damages as well as of the benefits of corruption practices. In order to provide lively and truthful outcomes, such an approach needs to be developed through the investigation of the everyday reality of social actors. This is why there is a need for this deliverable, which draws on first-hand data collected through ethnographic research tools to collect experiences and ideas on the ground about the incidence of corruption at the level of public administration in nine countries of four continents. It develops, within the scope of the ANTICORRP research project, a comparative framework to analyse data from the countries under investigation. The ethnographies which make up the deliverable are by no means separate. The aim of this deliverable is twofold. The first is to provide, within the individuality of each country case study, adequate scope for comparison on the ways in which different degrees of institutional transformation affect public administrators’ attitudes towards integrity and anti-corruption.
Secondly, the volume aims to demonstrate how individual perception of integrity in the public administration are influenced by social and cultural values and practices. Therefore, the citizen, as the public administrator, is not, in these contributions, a passive victim of the dominance of widespread corruption that emerges as kind of social illness or structural malfunction generated by a number of economic, political and legal determinants. The main argument of this volume is that corruption needs a number of explanations in order to be legitimized at societal level. Social (as political) actors have to make sense of what corruption is, how it works, why it is beneficial to some and why it might not be a bad thing, and eventually why it cannot be eradicated easily. This process of signification is informed by culture, hence the comparison across countries is particularly enlightening, suggesting that when dealing with public institutions actors are influenced by their cultural perception of integrity. Conclusions from research undertaken by WP4 suggests that because there are different local explanations to corruption and its related phenomena (clientelism, nepotism, trade of influence, abuse of office, illegal gift-exchanges and so on), corruption is extremely resistant to eradication and ultimately it is adaptable to institutional development and reform. Corruption may resist reforms in particularly when these are not aligned with the socio-cultural dimensions of this phenomenon in each of the countries under examination. In other words, there would be poor effect of an implementation mechanism of integrity and transparency that is applied similarly to different countries. This is because the way how the benefits of corruption are understood differs significantly according to the social and cultural norms and values that instruct citizens to perceive the real salience of corruption in their everyday life.
The ethnographic study of public administration practices covers in this volume a large range of domains: higher education in Russia, public procurement in Italy, public employment in Bosnia, health and social services in Mexico and Tanzania, development in Kosovo, local governments in Hungary and Turkey. The richness of these approaches makes up a solid empirical framework within which to investigate a number of key socio-cultural dimensions and their impact on the quality of governance practices. Each country report ends with conclusions and recommendations for policy.
Tags: anthropological approach to corruption, Anthropology, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Clientalism, corruption in public administration, ethnography, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Mexico, Russia, socio-cultural dimension, sociology, Tanzania, Turkey