Becoming Denmark: Historical Paths to Control of Corruption

24 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013

Date Written: 2013


This paper conceptualizes public corruption as part of a broader social order context. It argues that corruption should not be conceived of as a social ‘malady’ to be eradicated, but rather as a default governance regime. People naturally favor their own, be it family, clan, race or ethnic group: treating the rest of the world fairly seems to be a matter of extensive social evolution and sufficient resources. Very few societies have evolved from this natural state of affairs to produce a state which can be expected to treat everyone equally and fairly, and to put public above private interest, when entrusted with the management of common affairs and resources. The paper surveys the approaches to anticorruption of three distinct political regimes, monarchy, medieval republic and modern democracy to conclude that current anticorruption should be conceptualized as solving collective action problems rather than as repression of deviance.

Keywords: corruption, universalism, patrimonialism, collective action, modernization, favoritism, principal agent

Suggested Citation

Mungiu-Pippidi, Alina, Becoming Denmark: Historical Paths to Control of Corruption (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN:

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (Contact Author)

Hertie School of Governance ( email )

Friedrichstrasse 180, Q110
Berlin, 10117

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