Corruption and Fast Change

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[650] Paper
Corruption and fast change: Shifting modes of micro-coordination

Jens Chr. Andvig

No. 650 – 2003

Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt

Utgiver: NUPI Copyright: © Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt 2003 ISSN: 0800 - 0018 Alle synspunkter står for forfatternes regning. De må ikke tolkes som uttrykk for oppfatninger som kan tillegges Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt. Artiklene kan ikke reproduseres - helt eller delvis - ved trykking, fotokopiering eller på annen måte uten tillatelse fra forfatterne. Any views expressed in this publication are those of the author. They should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. The text may not be printed in part or in full without the permission of the author. Besøksadresse: Grønlandsleiret 25 Addresse: Postboks 8159 Dep. 0033 Oslo Internett: www.nupi.no E-post: pub@nupi.no Fax: [+ 47] 22 17 70 15 Tel: [+ 47] 22 05 65 00

Corruption and fast change: Shifting modes of micro-coordination

Jens Chr. Andvig

[Abstract] The paper studies the effects on corruption of having coexisting, contradictory norms for allocating different micro- coordination modes across society. One important reason for their coexistence is fast change, and links to Huntington’s classical analysis of corruption are worked out. The notion of microcoordination mode is exposed and its usefulness for explaining corruption is argued through examples. The examples outlined are corruption in land allocation in Kenya, the economic transition in post-communist countries and the global telecommunications industry.

Contents

1. Introduction......................................................................................... 5 2. Commercial and family-friendship corruption defined............................ 6 3. Tom Sawyer, Alfred Temple and switching modes of micro-coordination7 4. Spheres of micro-coordination and corruption ....................................... 9 5. Modernisation and corruption. Some Huntington theories......................16 6. Land grabbing in Kenya: A case of modernisation and corruption ..........19 7. Post-communist corruption: A switch in norms and practices.................22 8. Deregulation and technical change in telecommunications .....................28 References.............................................................................................31

1. Introduction
In an older, by now half forgotten work of the political scientist Samuel Huntington (1968) the rise of extensive corruption in many poor countries was explained as the passing outcome of fast changes in norms and behaviour patterns, an undesirable side-product of modernisation: “Corruption may be more prevalent in some cultures than in others but in most cultures it seems to be most prevalent during the most intense phase of modernization …Impressionistic evidence suggests that its extent correlates reasonably well with rapid social and economic modernization” (Huntington,1968: 59). Here I seek to generalise his idea and also look at other instances of comparatively fast changes in modes of behaviour. However, no presumption is made that corruption levels may subside when the rates of change have slowed down. Why introduce the notion of changing behavioural patterns? It is possible to explain variation in corruption levels assuming that economic agents maximise their private economic returns whatever the situation. I have once worked with that assumption (Andvig and Moene, 1990). Given that possibility, why not stick to Occam’s razor and avoid the detour of shifting behavioural modes? Despite the possibility of observing low corruption equilibria with pure income maximisation, my hunch is that in most countries less corruption is going on than what we should expect on that assumption. The reason might be that we not always are in a corrupt frame of mind, but that we sometimes are...
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