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.
This chapter focuses on what can be done to improve the effects of building state capacity and introduces an approach called “problem-driven iterative adaptation” (PDIA) as an effective measure. To explain PDIA, the authors focus on a classroom exercise where participants attempt to design a strategy to travel from east to west in the United States in 2015 and 1804. The 2015 strategy is fairly straightforward, as the participants conclude that there is a clearly identified solution, existing knowledge to help them plan their route, a single leader, and a small group of individuals required to travel with relatively little risk. On the other hand, the 1804 strategy shows that there must be experimental iterations and adaptations to travel westward, along with multiple leaders managing risk factors and a large group of individuals with different talents. The 1804 strategy is similar to what the authors define PDIA is: “A process strategy that does not rely on blueprints and known solutions as the key to building state capability…[it should] foster active, ongoing experimental iterations…establish an authorizing environment for decision-making that encourages experimentation…[and]engage broad sets of agents to ensure that reforms are viable” (154). The authors conclude the chapter with data supporting the claim that effective state building encompasses the ideas of both the 2015 and 1804 strategy, with the 1804 strategy being more dominant.
Out of all the assigned readings for the corruption section of POL 259, my favorite was “Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets” by Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel. The article investigates the social norms and legal enforcement abilities, which are both contributors to corruption, of UN employees by studying their parking behavior. The authors found that officials from traditionally corrupt countries obtain more parking violations than those from traditionally non-corrupt countries. Additionally, the paper included other variables and tests, finding notable results that include the fact that parking violations increase by each additional month that the diplomat is living in New York City and that an increase in legal enforcements led to a drastic decrease in parking violations. Furthermore, this paper cites Illyana Kuziemko’s and Eric Weker’s report, “How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth,” which studies bribery and corruption in the UN Security Council and was the inspiration for my final project. Tentatively, I plan on investigating corruption and bribery within the UN by looking at data that suggests that the United States increases aid to rotating members on the Security Council in exchange for votes and political favors.
I am finally beginning to narrow in on a lit review topic, but currently am still searching fairly broadly on the topic of women’s role in the civil service. More specifically, looking to see if there has been any research to see that high or fair levels of women involvement in the public sector lead to a less corrupt and more efficient bureaucracy. There is a lot of literature about women and politics and how that can *potentially* reduce rates of corruption, although some argue there is not enough evidence to make that argument. I was also able to find a really interesting study about gender titled “Transformative Empowerment in the Lagos State Civil Service: A Gender Policy Discourse” which makes the claim that “The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration” which is exactly what I hope to look into. Moreover, I found another study that uses Brazil as an example for streamlining gender as a way to combat petty corruption which is interesting since I hope to analyze the Brazil data set for my final project. So although I still have a lot of literature to parse through, I am excited about the possible trajectories of the lit review and corresponding final project.
Rasul and Rodger use their data collection from Nigeria to analyze the practices that govern bureaucratic activity, and its impact on the quantity of public services delivered. In their findings the conclude that increasing autonomy in bureaucracy there is a positive correlation with the completion, and delivery of public services. Further, their study found that implementing incentives and monitoring programs for bureaucrats actually decreased completion rates of public service delivery.
In the article, “Civil service management and corruption: What we know and what we don’t,” authors Jan-Hinrik Meyer Sahling, Kim Sass Mikkelsen, and Christian Schuster argue for an increase in research on the relationship between the organization and structure of civil service systems and corruption levels. They begin by evaluating the existing literature discussing civil service and corruption and drawing three main conclusions: 1. There is a positive relationship between employer recruitment that is based on merit and a decrease in corruption, 2. There is a varied correlation between pay levels and corruption, most likely due to the nuances in measuring pay levels such as pay raises and starting salaries, and 3. Existing literature provides limited evidence on the relationship between HRM (Human Resource Management) functions, like promotions or job stability, and corruption levels. The authors conclude that more research into these categories, along with expanding their study of civil service management practices and attempting to use more statistical causal identification methods, would help policy makers in their fight to reduce government corruption.