The bureaucracy in South Africa is transitioning and becoming increasingly political; meaning more political appointments and pressures under the ANC. Cameron identifies a paradox emerging- one in which the politicians want higher quality service delivery from bureaucrats, but at the same time do not trust even senior political appointees to do this. Finally, there is also a high turnover rate of bureaucrats, so Cameron recommends moving to a more merit based system, rather than increasingly relying on appointments.
I knew very little about Mexico coming into these readings, and found it very interesting how corrupt it was. I feel as if before I viewed Mexico as having weak governance and rule of law, but the two are more connected that I thought. I also got a good idea of corruption before and during the 1990s, but the one recent article didn’t go into it as much, so I think my main questions would be is what is the current state of corruption is toady?
India has a lot going on and its bureaucracy, while highly structured, isn’t the easiest thing to understand. Moreover, while most people distrust the system and believe it is rampant with corruption, there is wide disagreement about what exactly its problems and functions are- these have also changed overtime. Some of these disagreements are about the size, the expertise of the individuals, the politicization, civil servant autonomy, and how to motivate employees. I am excited for the discussion in class to see what sides people gravitated toward.
I really enjoyed the US invents clientelism article as it gave a historical point of view and offered reasons of shifts and change through different presidencies and periods throughout US history. I think it is always advantageous, and in many cases crucial, in political science to have the historical background to understand modern trends. While I felt like I had a strong grasp on US history, looking at it only through the lens of clientelism was really helpful in understanding current bureaucracy and potential corruption in the US today.
Not to seem like I am looking to simply agree with the professor, but I really connected with the incremental approach that Professor Bersch outlined in her book, opposed to a ‘Big Bang’ way of attacking corruption. Specifically, I agree with the point that too much change at once makes it difficult for things to stick and encourages lots of new change all the time, and thus instability and lack of institutions. I actually related this to a process I’ve seen unfold at Davidson in regards to the student handbook revisions. In my three years at Davidson, the sexual misconduct policy has been revised essentially every year. I don’t know the full context of the situation and I am sure there was good reasoning behind all these changes, but I also heard the criticism that the school hasn’t been able to see the actual effects of these different policies because it is never in place long enough to take hold.
Syndromes of Corruption
I really enjoyed the Michael Johnston reading and felt like he tactfully filled in a lot of the holes and small nuances that surround the literature around corruption and anti-corruption policy. He criticizes having a general consensus definition for corruption, rank-order scaling, and its synonymity with the word bribery because it ignores how it can differ from country to country and downplays its inherent complexity. To order to better model and create better and more targeted policy he breaks country’s down by type and discusses what form corruption most commonly takes in countries with varying levels economic institutions and state capacity. I think this ready was really helpful for me in getting a more wholistic view of corruption, where many of the readings like Li’s, admit to using bribery and corruption synonymously.