Legislative Powers and Executive Corruption

22 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2015 Last revised: 24 May 2016

See all articles by M. Steven Fish

M. Steven Fish

University of California, Berkeley

Katherine Michel

University of California, Berkeley

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 1, 2015

Abstract

The comparative politics literature is replete with cross-national studies of corruption, though the precise dimensions this term encompasses frequently remain unclear. According to an oft-cited definition by Robert Klitgaard (1998: 4), “corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability.” Yet this definition really specifies the conditions that are likely to be conducive to corrupt practices rather than corrupt practices themselves. One can readily imagine an unaccountable actor who enjoys monopoly power and discretion not engaging in corrupt practices. He or she may be constrained by habit, ethical beliefs, or fear of shaming. Other conceptions provide what amount to lists of corrupt practices without necessarily offering a rigorous definition of corruption itself. In its “UN Anti-Corruption Toolkit,” the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime distinguishes corruption on two axes — grand versus petty and active versus passive — and identifies a long list of corrupt acts: bribery, theft, embezzlement, fraud, extortion, abuse of discretion, favoritism, nepotism, clientelism, the exploitation of conflicting interests (“conduct creating”), and improper political contributions (United Nations 2004). Such a list points us to the vast array of corrupt practices, but it does not solve the problem of definition.

Clear concepts are of great value. Yet the absence of consensus on a concept’s definition need not prevent us from investigating the phenomenon itself, or preclude exploration of its causes and consequences. If we were so constrained, empirical investigations of subjects like “political culture,” “institutions,” and “democracy,” among many others of interest to social scientists, would not be possible.

Keywords: legislature, power, executive, corruption, democracy

Suggested Citation

Fish, M. Steven and Michel, Katherine and Lindberg, Staffan I., Legislative Powers and Executive Corruption (June 1, 2015). V-Dem Working Paper 2015:7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2622570 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2622570

M. Steven Fish (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Katherine Michel

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

No Address Available

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
178
Abstract Views
959
rank
175,468
PlumX Metrics