Conference Program

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Session 1: Keynote Address

6:00-7:30 p.m. 
John Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, 1st floor
“International Corruption: Organized Civil Society for Better Global Governance"

Peter Eigen, Founder and Chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International; Honorary Professor of Political Science, Freie Universität, Berlin

International corruption is both a result and a cause of failing global governance. Our present paradigm of governing the globalized economy is essentially built on national governments. These have lost their capacity to guarantee a coherent and fair global governance system. Therefore, new actors must complement these traditional actors. Drawing on the experience of civil society organizations supporting governments and business in controlling corruption, this paper argues that CSOs can take on a more powerful role in other areas of failing governance—such as environmental destruction, human rights violations, and breaches of decent labor standards—to offer a new approach to a more just, more peaceful, more prosperous and better world.

Moderator: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs, The New School for Public Engagement

Friday, November 22, 2013

Session 2: Understanding Corruption—Social and Historical Dimensions

10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon 
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor

A. The Development of the Concept of Transparency
Alan Ryan, Professor of Politics, Princeton University

Corruption was an obsession of 18th-century political theorists and the target of radicals of all stripes at the end of that century. The present corruption was often contrasted to a, perhaps too uncritical, worship of the stern republicans of ancient Rome and Sparta—the latter being notoriously open to bribery and as greedy as the next man when not at home under the watchful eyes of their fellows. On the obverse of the coin, we have Mandeville, whose Fable of the Bees emphasized the good effects of our less admirable desires and the bad effects to be expected of any return to ancient austerity—a proto-Keynesian argument; and Hume's defense of the balance achieved in British constitutional arrangements by essentially corrupt methods through which enabled the monarchy counterbalanced the populist pressures of parliament by offering sinecures and near-sinecures, "jobbery" to put it briefly. They in turn were countered by Bentham's arguments for an inquisitorial political system, in which every government officer would be exposed to scrutiny; here the notion of transparency begins to do some work, because Bentham's claim that any committee that was not an inquisition would be a screen rests on the thought that making government visible is the essential step to making it both cheap and honest.

B. Corruption and Social Trust: Why the Fish Rots from the Head Down
Bo Rothstein, August Rohss Professor in Political Science, Göteborg University

Beginning in the early 1990s, it was discovered that generalized social trust had a positive impact for societies. Countries with a high level of social trust performed much better than countries in areas such as economic prosperity, population health, tolerance, and subjective well-being. It could also be shown that countries, cities, etc. with a higher level of social trust had better-performing democratic institutions. New theoretical insights coming from institutional theory and theories of strategic interaction provided explanations for why social trust makes societies and organizations perform better. Higher levels of trust make it easier for agents to establish cooperation for the creation of many public goods that are needed for improved performance. A central question in this approach was how such generalized social trust could be generated. The first and still most accepted theory states that social trust is generated by people being active in voluntary associations. Pointing at the importance of civil society organizations became important also for understanding many policy making organizations. The problem was that the theory was not supported empirically. True, citizens that were members of voluntary associations also turned out to have a high level of interpersonal trust. But this turned out to be caused by self-selection (citizens with an already high level of social trust were more likely to become members; the activity in the organizations was not the cause of increasing social trust). Empirical research could not verify that there exists a causal link at the individual level between social trust and activity in voluntary associations, and some voluntary organizations turn out to have a negative impact on generalized trust. In light of these findings, a new theory was launched about how social trust might be generated. Instead of the bottom-up approach, this theory points at the importance of the quality of government institutions. At the aggregate level, it could be shown that countries with a high level of corruption had lower social trust. Experimental and more fine-grained survey research has verified the existence of a causal link at the individual level between corruption in government institutions and low social trust. This paper a) gives an overview of this empirical research, b) discusses the various theories behind corruption and social trust and c) specifies the causal mechanisms behind individuals’ perceptions (or experiences) of corruption in government institutions and social trust.

C. Corruption and Markets: Philosophical Dimensions
Debra Satz, Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

The charge that markets corrupt character is an old one. Defenders of aristocracy argued that markets produce a crass commercial art in place of the great works funded by elite patrons. Oscar Wilde lamented the modern day cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Indeed there is a rich empirical literature on the ways in which markets crowd out certain noble motivations such as loyalty. Assuming these effects are established, how much weight should we give such arguments in our assessment of markets? What other values are at stake? To what extent can these negative effects be redressed through regulations and reliance on other institutions?

Moderator: Mark W. Frazier, Professor of Politics, Co-academic Director of the India China Institute, The New School

Session 3: Corrupt Systems—Government, Labor, and Markets

1:00-3:00 p.m.
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor

A. What Counts as Corruption?
Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

This paper follows the evolution of corruption from being largely the direct exchange of money, property, and other tangible things for positions or favors to being more often the sharing of privileged information that can be turned into tangible objects through financial and other markets. How to mark historically the rising importance of insider information is the subtext of the talk.

B. Is Labor Union Corruption Special?
James Jacobs, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts, Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice, New York University School of Law

Like all other organizations, unions are vulnerable to corruption. Indeed, corruption charges against union officers have been common and politically salient from the labor movement's early days. Nevertheless, there has been little interest among academics in examining the causes, forms, frequency, and consequences of corruption for labor unions. This paper examines how union corruption should be understood and conceptualized.

C. The Economic Roots of Government Corruption
Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence (Law and Political Science), Yale University

Corrupt incentives arise when the government provides scarce benefits and decides who qualifies for a public benefit or who bears a cost. Therefore, anti-corruption policy must go beyond law enforcement strategies to redesign public programs in ways that reduce corrupt incentives and improve government performance. Furthermore, reformers need to put anti-corruption reforms in context. For example, if limiting official corruption in procurement occurs at the same time as private market cartels flourish, not much has been gained. If corruption occurs as a response to the waste and inefficiency of public bodies, its root causes need to be addressed. Anti-corruption policy should aid the goal of better and more efficient overall government performance. Enforcement of anti-bribery laws is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of reform.

Moderator: Michael Cohen, Professor of International Affairs, Director of the Julian Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School

Session 4: Possibilities For Reform

3:30–5:30 p.m.
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor

A. Topic: Money and Politics
Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director, Center for Responsive Politics

B. Becoming Denmark: Historical Designs of Corruption Control
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor of Democracy Studies, Hertie School of Governance

This paper conceptualizes public corruption as a broader social order framework, as particularism, a governance regime. From this perspective, particularism cannot be conceived as a social malady or deviation, as corruption is usually described, but rather as a state of default, natural and therefore frequent. People naturally favor their own, be it family, clan, race or ethnic group, and treating the rest of the world fairly seems to be a matter of extensive social learning and sufficient resources. Societies which travel the greatest distance from this natural state of affairs and produce an autonomous state which treats everyone equally and fairly are an exception and the product of a long historical evolution. This evolution should not be taken for granted. Indeed, as James Q. Wilson argues, universalism and individualism, which spread in the West after the Enlightenment to become generally held norms, are neither natural nor necessarily and invariably good principles (1993). This paper brings evidence that the explanation for the good governance of developed countries is not to be found in their present organization (legislation, political institutions), which acts for the maintenance, rather than the creation, of good governance, but in their history, seen as development through successive equilibriums. The European historical paths to control of corruption are reviewed, and the contemporary anticorruption arsenal is placed in historical context in order to understand how societies can develop control of corruption.

C. More Than Necessary, Less Than Sufficient: How Democratization and Development Shape Corruption Control
Michael Johnston, Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science, Colgate University

Democratization and development are both central concerns for reformers. Both are more than necessary conditions, or instrumental policies, for corruption control; we value them as goals in themselves because they are aspects of justice and the quality of life as well as contributing to better government. Neither is sufficient for corruption control. Development entails stresses and imbalances that can encourage corruption and impede reform and is itself influenced—usually for the worse—by corrupt dealings. In similar ways, democratization encourages some kinds of corruption even as it may check others. This paper explores the interconnections among democratization, development, and corruption, highlighting both risks and opportunities. India, for example, shows us ways in which democracy without solid economic development may make corruption worse; China exemplifies corruption problems likely to emerge in a setting of development without democracy. The opportunities, I suggest, require us to think in somewhat different terms—about “deep democratization,” which involves the opening up, over time, of whole political systems rather than a particular set of electoral and administrative institutions, and about development as a process of building institutions, trust, and accountability, as well as the encouragement of growth. Success stories reflecting that approach are few and far between. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the deepest dilemmas are found in liberal democracies. Still, important lessons and recommendations can be drawn from cases as diverse as Egypt, the Philippines, and Argentina.

Moderator: Terra Lawson-Remer, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the The New School; Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

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