Academic journal article Sociological Focus

Organized Civil Society: A Cross-National Evaluation of Non-Governmental Organization Density on Governmental Corruption

Academic journal article Sociological Focus

Organized Civil Society: A Cross-National Evaluation of Non-Governmental Organization Density on Governmental Corruption

Article excerpt

Using a globally representative sample of nations between 1997 and 2004, I demonstrate that the presence of an active civil society works to decrease governmental corruption. The presence of a robust civil society holds governments accountable, informs its citizens, and provides a suitable outlet for people to voice their concerns and be heard. I analyze data using a pooled time-series, cross-sectional (TSCS) analysis. Results show that civil society strength has a significant impact on governmental corruption. These results remain significant when accounting for economic development, political institutions, and cultural-geographic controls. By emphasizing the role organized civil society plays in a broad sample of nations, this study refines our understanding of the role that non-state actors assume in the health and maintenance of their own societies. Consequently, this project demonstrates the importance of including the role of civil society in future studies of governmental corruption.

On January 23, 2004, the United States government established the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The MCC was created to provide economic assistance to countries that practice economic freedom, invest in their citizens and practice good governance. The MCC charter is based on previous development aid knowledge learned over the past five decades.

Aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic and social policies-which are key to encouraging the inflows of private capital and increased trade-the real engines of economic growth; Development plans supported by a broad range of stakeholders [emphasis added], and for which countries have primary responsibility, engender country ownership and are more likely to succeed; Integrating monitoring and evaluation into the design of activities boosts effectiveness, accountability, and the transparency with which taxpayer resources are used. (Millennium Challenge Corporation 2008)

The MCC was appropriated $1 billion in initial funding for 2004, $1.5 billion for 2005 and in 2008 operated on a budget of 6.7 billion (Millennium Challenge Corporation 2008). With this funding, the MCC's mission is to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth by investing in agriculture, education, private sector development and capacity building. Countries selected for these grants are based on their dedication to good governance. This commitment must include a well-designed plan for the aid, including clear objectives, benchmarks to measure progress, and a plan to evaluate the results. Developing countries that are determined by the MCC to be committed to good governance, economic freedom, and citizen investment may apply for two types of grants, including compacts, which are large, five-year development grants for countries that fully pass MCC's eligibility criteria. Additionally, states that show a commitment to meeting these requirements can qualify for threshold programs, which are small awards designed to help the state meet the full requirements (Millennium Challenge Corporation 2008).

Among the key indicators that the MCC uses to assess how well countries practice good governance is the level of control they have on governmental corruption. The MCC's development grants provide important incentives for countries to reduce governmental corruption, since countries that are observed to have high levels of corruption will not get the grants, as donors are concerned the funds will be misappropriated. For example, the 1972 earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua devastated the city, destroying the city's central business district. The international community responded with aid to help Managua rebuild from the ruins. The money was entrusted to the ruling regime under Anastasio Somoza and his liberal nationalist party. But the money was squandered by the corrupt regime and Managua's business district was never rebuilt.

Furthermore, corrupt democratic governments tend to be less democratic than those with minimal corruption. …

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