Good Government

Good Government

The Relevance of Political Science

Edited by Sören Holmberg and Bo Rothstein

In all societies, the quality of government institutions is of the utmost importance for the well-being of its citizens. Problems like high infant mortality, lack of access to safe water, unhappiness and poverty are not primarily caused by a lack of technical equipment, effective medicines or other types of knowledge generated by the natural or engineering sciences. Instead, the critical problem is that the majority of the world’s population live in societies that have dysfunctional government institutions. Central issues discussed in the book include: how can good government be conceptualized and measured, what are the effects of ‘bad government’ and how can the quality of government be improved?

Chapter 4: Need or Greed Corruption?

Monika Bauhr

Subjects: development studies, development studies, politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, public policy, regulation and governance


Monika Bauhr Despite extensive international and national efforts to contain corruption, there are few successful anti-corruption programs. The major challenge for the anti-corruption industry is to understand the limited success and find more effective ways to deal with corruption. The problem of corruption has been popularized through the use of international rankings, where countries are ranked according to their level of corruption. These rankings also play a dominant role in comparative research, and in many ways guide our knowledge of the effects of corruption and its global evolution. However, the current emphasis on the scale of the corruption problem clearly limits our understanding of the societal effects of corruption as well as the effects of anti-corruption measures. This chapter suggests that failing anti-corruption programs can partly be traced to an excessive focus on the scale of the corruption problem at the expense of a better understanding of its different forms. I make a distinction between “need” and “greed” corruption. Contrary to the most commonly used distinction, this distinction does not focus on how widespread or costly corruption is, but on the basic motivations for engaging in corruption in the first place. That is, the basic motivation for paying a bribe can be either need or greed. Need corruption occurs when services that citizens are legally entitled to, such as receiving a birth certificate or healthcare, are conditioned upon paying a bribe. Greed corruption occurs when the bribe is given to gain personal advantages to which that person is not entitled....

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