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 6: Socio-cultural dimensions of corruption in Turkish public administration

Muhittin Acar


Corruption is a serious and sustained problem in Turkey. The existence and endurance of this problem in the country has been recognized by international organizations (e.g., European Commission, 2014; Freedom House, 2014), official documents (e.g., Tarhan, 2006), and scholarly studies (e.g., Acar, 2015; Omurgonulşen and Doig, 2012; Ozhabeş, 2011). It has also been reflected in the country’s scores on the Corruption Perception Indexes (CPIs) prepared by Transparency International (TI), which have remained at less-than-inspiring levels, despite some fluctuations over the years. For example, in 2015 Turkey’s country score was 42 (out of 100), which puts the country in 66th place (out of 168 countries) (Transparency International, 2016). A more recent and poignant case has been the corruption scandal which broke out on December 17th, 2013, which started at dawn with a series of police raids and the detention in Ankara and Istanbul of around 100 people, including the sons of three ministers, a mayor, some prominent businessmen, and the CEO of a state-run bank. Around two-thirds of those were soon released after questioning, while 20-something people were detained and eventually arrested. Major allegations have been related to taking bribes and rigging bids on government contracts involving some significant construction work and real-estate projects and Turkey’s gold trade with Iran. It turned out later that a second round of arrests targeting executives from construction consortiums building the third bridge and third airport in Istanbul was aborted on December 25, 2013, simply by way of the police declining to follow orders from the prosecutors. At around the same time, three ministers resigned, and a cabinet reshuffle soon followed suit.

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