• International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume 2

    Here is the book, currently available in Hardback. The launch event in Paris was an interesting one, especially because it was the opportunity for academics like me to learn about the way the world has changed for multinational companies such as Siemens or Thales (remember their previous name anyone?) eversince it is not fashionable anymore to pay large bribes in developing countries. In particular, the Thales representative stressed that “active” corruption is no longer acceptable, but that unfortunately they may still face “passive” corruption, i.e., be subject to harassement and other illegal requests, which are hard to turn down. What is not entirely clear to me is the real difference between these two categories. Does it mean that before, executives would have no second thoughts when paying bribes if that would enhance their business opportunities, while now they are quite unhappy when they face such demands? Or did bribe requests really change nature? Besides, it was also mentioned that while outright monetary bribery may have decreased overall, this probably goes hand in hand with significant changes in the nature of the compensations being used. For example, it may now be safer to ensure a job in the business venture, or a share of local business, to relatives and friends of important local contacts than to pay direct bribes. So, has corruption really declined in the wake of international conventions and campaigns since the 1990s? It would be great to have a micro-data based answer to this question. Note that so far, the standard country-level macro-data available tends to indicate that “on average the world has not significantly improved in the quality of governance“, in the words of Daniel Kaufmann.

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