Corruption in Public Administration
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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.
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Chapter 4: Academic dishonesty or corrupt values: the case of Russia

Elena Denisova-Schmidt


Scholars working on corruption in higher education have provided various typologies. Chapman (2002) identifies five behaviors that he labels as corruption in education: “blatantly illegal acts of bribery or fraud” (e.g. bribes for various services); “actions taken to secure a modest income by people paid too little or too late” (e.g. creating the necessity for private tutoring); “actions taken to get work done in difficult circumstances” (e.g. incentives from third parties to influence the professional duties of educational officials); “differences in cultural perspective” (e.g. gifts that might be a part of culture and/or “covert” bribes) and “behavior resulting from incompetence” (e.g. violations in the distribution of state-financed textbooks). Moreover, Chapman (2002) points out that, depending on the area and level involved, corruption might take different forms, including corruption at ministries (e.g. favoritism or kickbacks in appointment and promotion decisions), at the region or district level (e.g. sales of recommendations for higher education entrance), in the classroom (e.g. selling admissions to higher education), or with international agencies (e.g. skimming from project funds). Heyneman (2004) differentiates between two main categories: corruption in services, such as procurement, selection or accreditation, and professional misconduct, such as accepting gifts or rewards in exchange for grades or selection to specialized programs, assigning grades or assessments based on the students’ ascriptive attributes, exploiting or discriminating against students and ignoring the inadequate teaching and misconduct of colleagues. Hallak and Poisson (2007) provide a wider definition of educational corruption and indicate its areas: “finance” (e.g. embezzlement), “allocation of specific allowances such as fellowships” (e.g. favoritism/ nepotism, bribes), “construction, maintenance and school repairs” (e.g. fraud in public tendering), “distribution of equipment, furniture and materials” (including transport, boarding, textbooks, canteens and school meals), “writing of textbooks” (e.g. fraud in the selection of authors), “teacher appointment, management and training” (e.g. bypassing criteria), “professional misconduct” (e.g. discrimination, exploitation), “examination and diplomas, access to universities” (e.g. plagiarism) and “institutional accreditation” (e.g. favoritism, bribes, gifts). Rumyantseva (2005) proposes a distinction between educational corruption with student involvement, such as bribes for grades, and educational corruption without student involvement, such as manipulation with university funds. While both forms of educational corruption influence students’ values, beliefs and lives, the first type does it directly, and the second indirectly. Many scholars in the field work with Transparency International’s definition of corruption – “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” – and apply it to both public and private educational institutions (Chapman and Lindner 2016). In my chapter, I augment this definition with a broader interpretation provided by Heyneman (2004, 2013). Since education is a public good, Heyneman (2004) argues, the definition of corruption in this area includes elements of professional misconduct and academic integrity. Heyneman (2013: p. 103) defines the lack of academic integrity as “plagiarism, cheating, unauthorized use of others’ work, downloading . . . from the internet, paying for grades with gifts, money or . . . favors.” He advocates “ignoring” the discussions about perception vs. evidence in analyzing corruption in the educational sector: “when an institution is perceived to be corrupt the damage is already done, regardless of whether guilt is manifest.”

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