What Is Corruption?

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

- Lord Acton, in a letter to Mandell Creighton, (5 April 1887)

Podcast of the Day

How does the U.S. rank in terms of corruption compared to other countries? Transparency International puts us 15th on its Corruption Perceptions Index, which "measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world."

Jermyn Brooks, chair of the group's business advisory board, tells us how we landed there and what we can do to climb up.

Listen to the Planet Money episode on Ranking Corruption

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The global anti-corruption movement has long been dominated by a rationalist approach. Proponents of this approach believe that countries can reduce corruption with the presence of democracy, good organisational culture and governance. This approach also sees corruption as a moral problem.

Corruption has been commonly referred to as “cancer”, “AIDS"or ”the root of all evil“ that robs the poor and damages the moral of society.

However, such construction of meaning needs to be examined. As we welcome the International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9th, we need to be critical towards the dominant voices shaping the definition of corruption and how anti-corruption becomes articulated as a movement...

Continue reading Kanti Pertiwi's article: Examining the plural meanings of corruption

Further Reading

The causes and effects of corruption, and how to combat corruption, are issues that are increasingly on the national and international agendas of politicians and other policymakers. For example, the World Bank has relatively recently come around to the view that economic development is closely linked to corruption reduction (World Bank 1997) and there have been numerous anti-corruption initiatives in multiple jurisdictions (Heidenheimer and Johnston 2002; Preston and Sampford 2002). Moreover, the very recent Global Financial Crisis has revealed financial corruption, and spurred regulators to consider various anti-corruption measures by way of response. By contrast, the concept of corruption has not received much attention. Existing conceptual work on corruption consists in little more than the presentation of brief definitions of corruption as a preliminary to extended accounts of the causes and effects of corruption and the ways to combat it. Moreover, most of these definitions of corruption are unsatisfactory in fairly obvious ways...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Corruption by Seumas Miller

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