Quality of Government and Corruption from a European Perspective

Quality of Government and Corruption from a European Perspective

A Comparative Study of Good Government in EU Regions

Nicholas Charron, Victor Lapuente and Bo Rothstein

In this book the authors tackle the concept of ‘quality of government’ (QoG) both conceptually and empirically and apply their focus to EU countries and regions. In a pioneering empirical effort, they map out regional QoG for the first time for 172 NUTS 1 and 2 regions throughout 18 countries in the EU, and provide a detailed methodology. They follow up the quantitative assessment with three case studies demonstrating the wide variation of QoG found within the countries of Italy, Belgium and Romania. The book concludes with important lessons and ideas for future research.

Chapter 2: Conceptualizing QoG

Bo Rothstein

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy, regulation and governance


‘Quality of government’ and its close cousins ‘good governance’ and ‘state capacity’ are all relatively new concepts that have made a strong impact in some of the highest policy circles since the mid-1990s. The three concepts have received most attention in circles dealing with developing countries and the so-called ‘transition’ countries (Smith 2007). ‘Good governance’, especially, is now used by many national development agencies and international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations. An example is the International Monetary Fund, which in 1996 declared that ‘promoting good governance in all its aspects, including by ensuring the rule of law, improving the efficiency and accountability of the public sector, and tackling corruption, as essential elements of a framework within which economies can prosper’ (IMF 2005). However, the economic and financial crises that erupted in October 2008 have shown that issues about ‘bad governance’ cannot be seen as a problem only for developing and transition countries but also for the highly developed parts of the world (Rothstein 2011). A case in point is that several well-placed analysts have argued that the background to the financial and economic crisis can be found in how powerful investment banks on Wall Street used their influence to relax regulatory oversight and capital requirements (Kaufmann 2008; Johnson 2009). However, as recently argued by Francis Fukuyama, as it is being used by, for example the World Bank, the meaning of good governance lacks conceptual precision (2011: 469).

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