A Dark Side of Cooperation: When International Organizations Spread Political Corruption
ILAR WP #28
41 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2018
Date Written: April 17, 2017
Much of the literature on international organizations (IOs) has focused on the beneficial value they provide to members. Yet depending on their membership, some of the very same mechanisms that incentivize good governance can instead incentivize political corruption. Our central argument is that state participation in corrupted international networks is likely to incentivize political corruption domestically. This process occurs for two reasons. First, groups of corrupted states are more reticent to create, monitor or enforce formal good governance standards against other IO members. Second, leaders may witness the value of political corruption to their IO peers and learn to act the same way. Using a variety of data sources and estimation strategies, we demonstrate that countries that participate in a network of member corrupted IOs are significantly more likely to experience an increase in corruption domestically than are countries that participate in a network of more honest brokers. This effect occurs even among IOs that have adopted formal anti-corruption mandates; the effectiveness of formal good governance rules crucially hinges on the characteristics of members within an international organization.
Keywords: Human Rights, International organizations
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