Corruption as a Pan-Cultural Phenomenon: An Empirical Study in Countries at Opposite Ends of the Former Soviet Empire

By Nichols, Philip M.; Siedel, George J. et al. | Texas International Law Journal, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Corruption as a Pan-Cultural Phenomenon: An Empirical Study in Countries at Opposite Ends of the Former Soviet Empire


Nichols, Philip M., Siedel, George J., Kasdin, Matthew, Texas International Law Journal


I. INTRODUCTION

A decade ago, corruption was not a proper subject for polite scholars or policymakers.1 Today, the creation of and comment on anti-corruption regimes is a growth industry.2 Anti-corruption regimes exist at the global level and in almost every region and grouping of countries.3

Anti-corruption regimes share several structural characteristics. Most approach corruption as a pan-cultural phenomenon, and therefore most simply assume a shared set of perceptions about corruption.4 Most regimes then go on to require that all parties criminalize this behavior.

Scholarly commentary on these legal regimes, on the other hand, is not uniform. Some scholars applaud international coordination as necessary to combat a phenomenon that does not confine itself within borders,5 while some condemn it as morally imperialistic and an elitist intrusion into the affairs of other countries.6 Nonetheless, most legal scholarship on international corruption regimes does share at least one characteristic: it is theoretical and assumptive rather than empirical.7

International corruption regimes are legal constructs; evaluation of these constructs by legal scholars is critical. Evaluation, however, must be based on factual knowledge rather than assumption and supposition.8 The lack of empirical research, therefore, constitutes a serious gap in legal scholarship on an issue that is at the forefront of legal change in the world today.

This article seeks an empirical understanding of a basic question underlying international corruption regimes: do different cultures share an understanding of corruption? The authors of this paper administered a short questionnaire to similar sets of respondents in two different countries, Bulgaria and Mongolia, and conducted follow-up sessions with the respondents.9 The authors found that the respondents had strikingly similar attitudes towards, and understandings and perceptions of, corruption. While the data does not disprove a relativist position-that determination would require a comprehensive data set incorporating the entire world-it does lend support to those who suggest a shared understanding of corruption.

II. THE QUESTION

The foundational question examined in this paper is whether the perceptions and understandings of people in two different countries and cultures correspond or are different. A corollary of this question is whether empirical data on understandings and perceptions of corruption casts insights into theoretical discussions of corruption, as well as into the definition of corruption.

Empirical questions about the meaning of corruption are important for at least four reasons: 1) corruption is a serious issue that calls into question the efficacy of law and of social and economic systems; 2) changing international global regimes use shared meanings of corruption, which could result in the imposition of meanings of corruption on some cultures; 3) similarly, international financial organizations are attempting to deal with the issue of corruption in a systematic way; and 4) legal scholarship benefits from at least some level of empirical insight.

A. Corruption Is a Serious Issue

The damage engendered by corruption has been thoroughly explicated in the literature. Briefly, the literature states that corruption distorts economic decisions,10 impedes transnational commercial relationships,11 degrades bureaucratic systems,12 and severely corrodes social structures.13 One argument in favor of corruption depends on very particular circumstances: under conditions of authoritarian repression, internal corruption can facilitate the creation of channels through which goods and services reach people who do not have connections within the authoritarian regime.14

B. Changes in Global Regimes

At the global level, in April 2002 the United Nations mandated the drafting of the "United Nations Convention against Corruption. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Corruption as a Pan-Cultural Phenomenon: An Empirical Study in Countries at Opposite Ends of the Former Soviet Empire
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.