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 8: Weberian Bureaucracy and Corruption Prevention

Carl Dahlström and Victor Lapuente

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

Extract

Carl Dahlström and Victor Lapuente As noted in several chapters in this book, corruption is a persistent problem in the world today. This is true not only for developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, but also for many European democracies such as Italy and Greece (for an overview, see Holmberg et al. 2009). In the academic field of public administration and in national debates in several countries it has been suggested that corruption can be curbed by fostering a traditional organization of public administration, guaranteeing lifelong careers, formalizing recruitments, and introducing strong legal protection for civil servants. This chapter examines these suggestions and demonstrates that they are merely myths of corruption prevention. The consequences of widespread corruption for economic development and social well-being are important in several ways. For example, factors related to corruption seem to be more decisive than traditional variables in economics for explaining sustained economic growth (Mauro 1995; Hall and Jones 1999; Rodrik et al. 2004). In addition, corruption has dramatic effects on social well-being as it contributes to worse educational attainment, lower levels of health and happiness, worse protection of the environment, impoverishment of social and political trust and higher levels of violence (Holmberg et al. 2009). Therefore, the quest for finding institutional recipes to curb corruption has become a goal for many researchers and policy makers. Policy makers and academics have, for example, suggested that institutionally isolating public administration from politicians’ interferences curbs corruption. A group of characteristics that have received attention...

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