Greed, Corruption, and the Modern State

Greed, Corruption, and the Modern State

Essays in Political Economy

Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Lagunes

What makes the control of corruption so difficult and contested? Drawing on the insights of political science, economics and law, the expert contributors to this book offer diverse perspectives. One group of chapters explores the nature of corruption in democracies and autocracies, and “reforms” that are mere facades. Other contributions examine corruption in infrastructure, tax collection, cross-border trade, and military procurement. Case studies from various regions – such as China, Peru, South Africa and New York City – anchor the analysis with real-world situations. The book pays particular attention to corruption involving international business and the domestic regulation of foreign bribery.

Chapter 2: Good governance facades

Kalle Moene and Tina Søreide

Subjects: economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, politics and public policy, public policy


Fashions come and go in the development community. When a policy idea becomes popular, some governments implement a cosmetic variant of the policy. What looks like development, are institutional facades; pretty from the outside, ugly from the inside. A good governance facade can be introduced deliberately to mislead observers and stakeholders to cover political theft. An example from the past is development planning, introduced with good intentions but sometimes exploited as a cover for corruption. In the 1960s donors rewarded developing countries that introduced five-year plans by offering more aid. Recipient governments were therefore tempted to come up with cosmetic plans to satisfy foreign donors rather than the needs of their citizens. With recipient governments appearing to follow the suggestions from development experts, the donors raised few questions about their actual performance. Accordingly, it became possible for recipients to appropriate aid money for personal enrichment without facing reactions from the donor community. Another example is the donor community’s demand for privatization in the 1980s and 1990s. In some cases cosmetic privatization led to unhealthy reductions in the provision of public goods rather than to healthy market orientation. Both the downsizing of government and the sale of underpriced assets to friends and allies, made it possible for the elite in some countries to grab more rents.

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