15 Jun
Written by 

The Hidden Side of Corruption

A Review of Williams and Beare in their article ‘The Business of Bribery: Globalisation, Economic Liberalisation, and the ‘Problem’ of Corruption’, present both sides of the story.

 

1.      Introduction

 

Unlike, the long standing view of corruption as a national problem, currently, corruption is understood as an epidemic of the world. However, this perception is questioned on numerous grounds. Among other things, it is argued that, the present concept of corruption reflects of western economic and political interest, rather than the reality.

Williams and Beare in their article ‘The Business of Bribery: Globalization, Economic Liberalization, and the ‘Problem’ of Corruption’, present both sides of the story. Based on this writing, this paper presents both sides of the arguments. It will also examine the merits and demerits of each argument.

 

2. The Current Understanding of Corruption

 

The present understanding of corruption is mainly spread by the leading anti-corruption international organizations such as; OECD, IMF and World Bank. Moreover, these organizations acknowledge the shift in corruption and regard it as a global problem. They contend this is a reality, which can be inferred from common causes and effects of corruption.

These international anti-corruption organizations claim Globalization contribute greatly to the present understanding of corruptionSince, Globalization increases the occasions of corruption, through modern technologies and offshore trades, while complicating detection. From this they conclude corruption has shifted and increased along Globalization.

 

Besides Globalization, they claim non-democratic governments contribute significantly towards the current understanding of corruption. As most non-democratic features such as; monopoly, lack of transparency and lack of accountability are sources of corruption, which largely manifest itself as bribery.

 

Other than the causes, they argue the present understanding of corruption can be inferred from its effect in foreign investment. While, foreign investment necessities security and predictability, however, corruption effects foreign investment, as it destroys public trust and stability. They support the argument by citing the instances of developing countries, as these countries would have benefited from foreign investment, if not for their uncertainty.

As corruption is international problem, they propose anti­-corruption policies and regulations should also be designed taking the main causes and effects of it. Accordingly, they recommend democratization, privatization, liberalization, institutional and macroeconomic reforms as the main anti-corruption mechanisms.

 

3. Doubts on the Current Understanding of Corruption

 

On the other hand, those who question the understanding of corruption, as a shifting and increasing epidemic doubt the trustworthiness of this claim. They support their suspicion by pointing out numerous facts.

 

Primary, they point at the impartiality of the leading anti ­corruption international organizations and their role in shaping the concept of corruption. They recognize the role played by these organizations in shaping the present understanding of corruption. Nevertheless, they doubt their neutrality, as they claim the present concept of corruption reflects the interest of their sponsors, rather than the nature of corruption.

 

Moreover, they claim while corruption is multi-faceted, the present conception of corruption is partial. For instance, although corruption takes numerous forms, the present understanding of corruption is limited to bribery. Likewise, the proposed recommendations such as; democratizationLiberalization, and privatization exclusively focus on the economic effect of corruption. Whereas, these factors have been identified as keys to penetrate and benefit from developing countries by minimizing instability and unpredictability. Hence, they conclude the present concept of corruption mainly boosts the economic interest of westerners, than describing the reality of corruption.

 

4. The merits and demerits of the arguments

 

Both arguments have their own merits and demerits. The first argument is appreciated, as the anti-corruption recommendations are crucial matters for political and economic advancement of nations. However, it fails to take the social, political and economic context of developing countries as it mainly focus on western ideologies and interests.

 

The second argument is appreciated as it enables countries to question the reliability of their anti-corruption regulations and policies. Nevertheless, the suspicion may force states to neglect vital democratic and development principles.

 

5. Conclusion

 

The concept of corruption embraces both the economic interest of westerners as well as the current reality. However, nations should cautious about anti-corruption legislation and policies, as these might promote other interests.

 

 

Selam Gebretsion

The blogger has LLM in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention from the University of Western Cape and Humboldt University. She also has MA in Gender Studies from Addis Ababa University. Currently the blogger is lecturer at the Ethiopian Civil Service University, former public Prosecutor at the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice.