Transitions to Good Governance
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Transitions to Good Governance

Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-corruption

Edited by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston

Why have so few countries managed to leave systematic corruption behind, while in many others modernization is still a mere façade? How do we escape the trap of corruption, to reach a governance system based on ethical universalism? In this unique book, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston lead a team of eminent researchers on an illuminating path towards deconstructing the few virtuous circles in contemporary governance. The book combines a solid theoretical framework with quantitative evidence and case studies from around the world. While extracting lessons to be learned from the success cases covered, Transitions to Good Governance avoids being prescriptive and successfully contributes to the understanding of virtuous circles in contemporary good governance.
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Chapter 8: Costa Rica: tipping points and an incomplete journey

Bruce M. Wilson and Evelyn Villarreal

Abstract

This chapter tracks Costa Rica’s long transition from a particularistic to a universal ethical society using a process-tracing methodology. It argues that the origins of Costa Rica’s success began in the early 20th century, followed by three subsequent tipping points that resulted in limiting opportunities for corruption. Each of these tipping points enhanced corruption-free governance through the devolution of political power across the branches of government; the decoupling of the executive branch’s control over state accountability agencies; the creation of new agencies whose actions expanded the anti-corruption capacity of state agencies; and the remove of legal impediments on the media to investigate and publish stories about corrupt officials. It details the central role of the media in the most recent period as a public watchdog investigating and reporting on many cases of apparent corruption by public officials. It also identifies many recent cases where the media (traditional and internet-based) initiated investigations into corruption before the state’s official anti-corruption agencies investigated and prosecuted them. The analysis draws on primary research and interviews with former and current public officials, magistrates, historians, and investigators.

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