Corruption in Public Administration

Corruption in Public Administration

An Ethnographic Approach

Edited by Davide Torsello

Despite the growth in literature on political corruption, contributions from field research are still exiguous. This book provides a timely and much needed addition to current research, bridging the gap and providing an innovative approach to the study of corruption and integrity in public administration.

Chapter 1: The role of the anti-corruption legislation and of ethical values in (re)defining corruption: the case of Monza, Italy

Maria Giulia Pezzi

Subjects: politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


In 2012 a new law in the matter of transparency and anti-corruption was approved in Italy. This law has set within new frames the understanding of corruption mechanisms, as well as the definition of core concepts of the anti-corruption discourse, such as ‘prevention’ and ‘transparency’. Moreover it has also redefined the roles and tasks of actors and employees of the public sector. In December 2013 the city of Monza, Northern Italy, was hit by the biggest corruption scandal of its history. Investigations evidenced the existence of a well-run system of corrupt practices between the private sector and the city council, which were aimed at favouring certain companies for public works and calls for tenders. The events that occurred in Monza acquired even more relevance in light of the principles contained in the new legislation, particularly its stress on anti-corruption discourses (and rhetoric), as well as on the performative role of ethical values in the public office. This chapter looks at how employees of Monza City Council perceived and (re)signified corruption as a whole consequent to the 2013 scandal and to the introduction of the new law, not only considering their impact at a local level, but also from a wider perspective in relation to corruption perception and practices at a national level.