Gifts, Bribes, and Development in Post-Soviet Kazakstan

By Werner, Cynthia | Human Organization, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview

Gifts, Bribes, and Development in Post-Soviet Kazakstan


Werner, Cynthia, Human Organization


Beginning in the 1990s, development organizations launched a global anticorruption campaign. Throughout the world, including post-Soviet Kazakstan, widespread corruption is generally viewed as a serious threat to economic development and political stability. This article addresses the practical problem of distinguishing gifts from bribes in a society like Kazakstan, where some gifts function in part as bribes. The search for this nonexistent boundary reveals the limitations of categories such as "gifts," "bribes," and "commodities." In addition, by examining local perceptions of morality and corruption, this article provides insights for developing culturally appropriate development programs to fight corruption.

Key words: exchange, gifts, development, corruption, Kazakstan

Employing self-interested bureaucrats, disregarding cultural and gender differences, straining local environments, and planning projects without local partici ation have all been touted as explanations for failed development projects (Hill 1986; Brain 1996; Ferguson 1990; Cernea 1991). In response to these critiques, development planners have made concerted efforts to develop `culturally compatible projects," to think about "sustainability issues," and to "put people first." Although these changes have certainly improved development projects in the past two decades, they have not provided a magical cure for alleviating global inequality. In 1990, after 45 years of development efforts, there were over one billion people living in absolute poverty, with annual incomes of less than $370 (World Bank 1990). This poor track record has prompted donor nations and their constituents to question whether development aid is a worthwhile expenditure. From 1991 to 1997, official development assistance has declined by one-third in real terms, from approximately $73 billion to $44 billion (World Bank 1998x). What can the development industry do to preserve its resources and reputation? In recent years, development experts have increasingly placed the blame on a familiar but forgotten culprit-corruption (Elliott 1997; Kaufmann and Siegelbaum 1997; Tanzi 1998).

Bribery, pilferage, and patronage are just a few of the more common forms of corruption. For a long time, these practices were regarded with some ambivalence. Bribery, after all, can be useful for "greasing the machine's wheel" or speeding things up. In the 1960x, a number of scholars argued that corruption might have some beneficial effects on economic and political stability in developing countries (Leff 1964; Bayley 1966). Similar yet stronger arguments have been made in the case of socialist countries (Kramer 1977; Ericson 1984; Grossman 1984). Accepting these "realities," industrialized countries, with the exception of the United States, have generally permitted bribes outside of their borders as tax-deductible business expenses.1 The emergence of a global anticorruption campaign in the mid-1990s, however, has led to a reconsideration of these practices. No longer viewed as a benign tumor, corruption has been rediagnosed as the leading threat to economic and political stability in developing and transition economies around the world.2

As the global anticorruption campaign gets underway, experts are trying to come up with ways to define and measure corrupt practices. One of the many problems involved with measuring and comparing corruption is that the forms of corruption vary widely from one society to the next, for both historical and cultural reasons. In fact, the boundaries between "corrupt" behavior and "cultural" behavior are not always clear, especially when it comes to the distinction between "bribes" and "gifts." Where does one draw the line? In an IMF report on corruption, Vito Tanzi, a leader of the anticorruption campaign, acknowledges that it is difficult yet important to make this distinction. The way he distinguishes the two, however, should raise an eyebrow or two among economic anthropologists. …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Gifts, Bribes, and Development in Post-Soviet Kazakstan
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.