What I found interesting in the Lodge reading is that is stated that centralized countries (like South Africa) are more likely to be corrupt than noncentralized countries (or at least that centralized systems can contribute to corruption). I wonder if this is the case because in federal systems political accountability comes from the people (because they vote in elections for multiple, distinct levels of government) whereas centralized systems have political accountability from bureaucrats and party officials above them. This would imply that bureaucracies are dependent on political accountability, and that the way political accountability is set up directly affects corruption.
What I have found interesting from these readings is the extent to which Mexican bureaucrats must network in order to both obtain and keep their jobs. They must be in the right networks during administration turnover to prove their loyalty to whoever is in charge of an agency, and then continue to be in the right networks to keep their job or get a new one once the administration turns over. The Grindle reading points out that it is the extremely personal nature of these networks that is problematic and leads to corruption. Overall, these readings seem to fit into the Frederich argument that these bureaucrats need less political accountability and more impersonal and meritocratic networks.
What I found interesting in this chapter was the ability of technology-enabled service reforms to reduce the susceptibility of government services to corruption. I thought this was intriguing because it could imply that the worldwide rise of modern technology is resulting in a subsequent decrease in states’ susceptibility to corruption.
And on a different note, perhaps the existence of technology services could be factored into corruption indicators, as their existence tends to thwart corruption.
Finally, I thought it was interesting that these book chapters tacitly emphasized a need to analyze corruption at the agency and/or state level. I found this very similar to the literature I’m using for my project on bureaucratic capacity, as both highlight the important differences of performance between states or agencies and what it means for government effectiveness.
This chapter speaks to the importance of measuring state capability not through the analysis of how successful policies are, but through studying a state’s capability for implementation. The authors decide to use Quality of Governance indicators on corruption, law & order and bureaucratic quality; effectiveness of public services (is this actually measuring capability and not successful policies?); and World Governance Indicators on government effectiveness. Through measuring the agencies within a country and studying the relationship between all the indicators and their capability score, they determine to have created an accurate way to measure capability.
What I found most interesting in the readings for this week was the notion that in some cases, corruption could serve as an aid to effective governance. I wonder if we never focus on this because political scientists and researchers tend to view corruption through the lens of being from a core/highly developed country. Therefore, corruption is seen as a hinderance to global development and therefore not great for multinational corporations, which are typically found in the same countries where research on corruption is done.
Therefore, are our measures of corruption too heavily centered on development indicators and not on governance indicators? How might we study corruption in a way that doesn’t automatically favor core countries?
And if we calibrate our indicators of corruption to its effects on governance, would there be situations where corruption aids the efficiency of bureaucracies and their policy implementations?
This article by Schuster proves that when bureaucracies are politicized, the quality and accuracy of policy knowledge in the state is negatively affected. What I found interesting is how bureaucratic politicization vs. professionalism could be a very strong indicator of bureaucratic autonomy. Furthermore, because Schuster alleges that higher politicization results in lower bureaucratic capacity, I wonder if we could theorize that higher politicization leads to lower bureaucratic autonomy, and therefore lower bureaucratic capacity (note that this is different than state capacity, which Fukuyama focused on in his 2013 article).
A way to take this theory further would be to see if this could be applied to a country which isn’t multiparty, where politicization is harder to measure (Schuster’s case study is Argentina). If we can derive bureaucratic capacity scores in a country like the U.S., then we should theoretically find a correlation with bureaucratic autonomy, and maybe discover the politicization of an agency/bureaucracy. I’d be interested in taking this approach with the U.S. FEVS data.