Academic journal article Sociological Focus

A Response to "Transnational Corruption in Weapons Procurement in East Asia": Using Network Analysis to Better Explore Patterns of Corruption

Academic journal article Sociological Focus

A Response to "Transnational Corruption in Weapons Procurement in East Asia": Using Network Analysis to Better Explore Patterns of Corruption

Article excerpt

Cotruption is a persistent problem all over the world (Rose-Ackerman 2004): As the pace of international economic integration has quickened, corruption has increasingly carried transnational dimensions. Major multinational firms use their extensive networks of connections for economic gains and frequently disregard the moral implications of their behaviors. Transnational corruption has become a global issue with significant negative impact on the world economy. Rose-Ackerman (2004) estimated that in 2003 US$1 trillion was paid in bribes out of a $30 trillion world economy. However, sociological understanding of transnational corruption and the role of multinational firms in corruption is rather limited. We know little about interconnections between major multinational firms and theit corruptive practices in various countries, especially in Asian countries (Elliot 1997). It is necessary to extend our knowledge base through both quantitative and qualitative studies, especially in-depth case studies that can reveal what major causal factors affect the cortuption process. The timely study by Professor Sung begins to fill the current gap in the sociological literature.

Sung listed some major factors that contributed to the transnational corruption case in Taiwan. First, China's constant push to deprive Taiwan of breathing space in the international arena and Taiwan's urgent need for advanced weapons to protect itself created an opportunity for arms sales and corruption. Second, the prolonged authoritarian rule by the Nationalists in Taiwan and its secretive unmonitored weapon procurement system were important contributing factors. Third, the emergence of the opposition party (the Democratic Progress Party) and lessening media control contributed to Taiwan's gradual progress toward democracy and made the revelation of cotruption cases possible. Finally, the judicial system in Taiwan was not fully independent and affected the outcome of the criminal investigation. Sung also examined the causal factors in France. He concluded that transnational corruption may occur but can certainly be reduced and controlled, and that Taiwan "is now better equipped to prevent the repetition of a similar scandal" because of a more transparent weapons procurement process and the Bush administration's support of Taiwan's need for advanced weapons systems.

The study has contributed to the literature on transnational corruption in the following ways. First, it is a challenging task for researchers to conduct solid studies of cross-country corruption, because they have to overcome language and cultural barriers to obtain necessary information (Gupta, De Mello, and Sharan 2001). In addition, access to the appropriate data is a major stumbling block for researchers. Secretive transactions between corrupt officials and businessmen are unlikely to be open for public view, unless the involved parties are exposed by the media or are under criminal investigation. Even if the case is under investigation, cultural contexts may affect how much information is open to the public. Due to the gradual relaxation of media control and constituents' desire for more political participation in Taiwan, Sung was able to obtain relevant information from various sources in Taiwan. However, some Chinese officials were also actively involved in the scandal, but we have no information about their involvement. China's state-controlled media and nontransparent legal system are unlikely to reveal any detailed corruption information that may negatively affect the party's image. The author has overcome many obstacles to get necessaty information. Second, the case study is methodologically appropriate. It allows the researcher to examine the complicated case in great detail. The author screened a large amount of information, placing it in context to examine the complicated incident of transnational corruption and to assess the impact of various social, international, and political factors on transnational corruption. …

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