Although the definition of corruption is still blurred, there is a broad consensus among researchers and practitioners that most forms of corruption are detrimental to public good. The causes of corruption should be analyzed from demand-side and supply-side and at individual, organizational, institutional, and societal levels. Responses to corruption can be categorized as control, exit, and voice strategies; each of the approaches is associated with a certain ethical perspective.
From the perceptive of virtue ethics, corruption should be analyzed in the specific context; surprisingly enough, two most influential organizations in the global fight against corruption, namely World Bank and the IMF, have serious moral flaws. Corruption: A Definition The definition of corruption is vague; this phenomenon can be described as bureaucratic, political, petty, grand, productive, malignant, systematic, individual, private-to-private, private-to-public, official, and fiscal.
Corruption may involve such diverse acts as treason, conflicts of interest, bribery, and embezzlement. Some researchers argue that there are over sixty acts that may fall under the definition of corruption. However, at the core of the definition of corruption lies the concept of misuse of public office for private gain. Positive and Negative Effects of Corruption
Corruption, the term that essentially has negative connotation, might lead to such undesirable consequences as a loss of government revenue, undermining of good governance, extra costs to businesses that engage in corruption, and lost opportunities for those that don’t, distorted standards of merit, erosion of respect for law, higher public investment, lower quality of infrastructure, slowdown in political and economic advance, promotion of the illegal export of resources, conspicuous consumption, and generates distrust.
From a Keynesian perspective, corruption distorts the role of the state as a guardian of the public interest. From a neoliberal point of view, corruption skews channels and markets for the flow of information, resources, and products. Yet some forms of corruption might be perceived as beneficial or functional, e. g. allowing tax collectors to keep a portion of the money raised for themselves might encourage collection efforts. Causes of Corruption On demand-side, at the individual level, corruption can be attributed to some individual’s unethical nature or miserable conditions.
At the organizational level, lack of relevant policies and procedures, excess discretion, insufficient supervision, and inadequate publicity might result in corruption. It may take institutional forms at a larger scale. Finally, at the societal level some communities have greater degree of acceptance of corruption than others. On supply-side, foreign actors (such as governments, corporations, and institutions) might create propitious conditions for corruption to flourish; colonial legacy is also to blame for wide-scale corruption in post-colonial countries. Responses to Corruption
Control strategy of combating corruption entails better law-enforcement, protecting whistle-blowers, reforming tax and customs administration systems, improving reporting systems, measuring public servants’ performance, and strengthening watchdog agencies (ombudsmen, auditors, etc). This approach is associated with consequentialist ethic. Exit strategy is based on the so-called ‘‘C=M+D-A’’ corruption calculus: through the establishment of a competitive market for services monopoly (M) and discretion (D) can be reduced, leaving only the need for greater accountability (A).
This approach is most favored by the majority of international organizations (e. g. World Bank and the IMF) engaged in the fight against corruption. In this case, teleology of efficiency and utility maximization prevails over Kantian categorical imperative or the ‘do onto others’ Golden Rule, since this approach involves ‘shock’ therapy in fighting corruption. Voice strategy of minimizing corruption emphasizes active participation of civil society. This approach is in line with deontic ethical perspective, since it addresses the needs of every citizen and ensures that none becomes a mere means to any prescribed end.
Application of Virtue Ethics Virtue ethics, a theory that holds that morality is a characteristic the person, implies that a greater number of inherently moral people results in a more moral world. Morality is perceived to be a function of judgment, which is always itself a function of specific contexts. Epistemological and ontological beliefs should be taken into account before imposing what is believed to be the fundamental principles of human existence. Moral Nature of World Bank and the IMF
Upon closer analysis, it becomes evident that World Bank and the IMF contradict the C=M+D-A anticorruption formula: both organizations have a great deal of discretion (D), they are nearly monopolistic (M), and they can be hardly called accountable (A). These organizations are frequently reluctant to admit responsibility for crises associated with their liberalization agendas; their anti-corruption strategies are inconclusive; they have vague disclosure standards; and sometimes private interest are promoted by these organizations despite the fact they are public offices.