Corruption: Part one
REPORTS CONCERNING corruption could fill a small library. The subject can be subdivided into various categories: effects of corruption, comprehensive summaries, causes, methods of control, practice in specific countries, need for reform, reform methods. Over the decades several books have been written on the subject (e.g. Elliot 1997, Klitgaard 1988, Rose-Ackerman 1978, 1999). Apparently there are over 700 books about corruption currently available.
Academic disciplines examine corruption from many perspectives: economics, sociology, political science, law, development studies, and area studies. However, few approaches attempt to look at the problem in a holistic way. In fact, in the introduction to their volume on corruption Harris-White and White (1996) refer to a ”… bewildering array of alternative explanations, typologies and remedies …” that have been used to investigate corruption. They further state that ”…while this work is quantitatively impressive it has not culminated in a paradigm of analysis which is useful…”.
The most obvious consequence of corruption with respect to internationally funded development projects is the decreased availability of funds for legitimate project work and consequent increased costs to accomplish stated project goals, if they are in fact ever accomplished. That is, as corruption becomes more prevalent, legitimate project needs compete with illegitimate uses of project funds.
Sadly, theft of money and decreased value of a particular project are only minor effects of a corrupt system. As corruption becomes routine many other factors conspire to make it complex and self re- enforcing. A culture of corruption develops. Individuals who would otherwise be honest are influenced by corrupt individuals both directly and indirectly.
Favouritism by a corrupt boss toward employees likely to provide payments influences these employees and forces them to participate in corrupt practices. People who do not participate do not receive promotions and pay raises. Individual benefits that corruption yield, lead to the hoarding of key project management positions by relatively few individuals. Loyalty rather than qualification determines the assignment of other staff to project activities. This will affect many related, concurrent projects as key corrupt individuals and their underlings acquire additional project assignments.
In order to best participate in a corrupt system a person needs to be employed in a management position.