The Quest for Good Governance

How Societies Develop Control of Corruption

by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Number of pages: 314

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

BBB Library: Politics and Public Affairs

ISBN: 978-1107534575

About the Author

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is a Romanian political scientist, academic, journalist and writer. A commentator on national politics, she is one of the civil society activists in post-1989 Romania, and, since 1990, an active contributor to 22.


Editorial Review

Why do some societies manage to control corruption so that it manifests itself only occasionally, while other societies remain systemically corrupt? This book is about how societies reach that point when integrity becomes the norm and corruption the exception in regard to how public affairs are run and public resources are allocated. It primarily asks what lessons we have learned from historical and contemporary experiences in developing corruption control, which can aid policy-makers and civil societies in steering and expediting this process. Few states now remain without either an anticorruption agency or an Ombudsman, yet no statistical evidence can be found that they actually induce progress. Using both historical and contemporary studies and easy to understand statistics, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi looks at how to diagnose, measure and change governance so that those entrusted with power and authority manage to defend public resources.

Book Reviews

“Alina Mungiu-Pippidi takes up the challenge from where renowned authors Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson had left it in “Why Nations Fail”. If the difference in economic performance is accounted for by governance, what explains why so few countries engage on the path of open and inclusive government versus one limiting access and spoiling its subjects? She argues that corruption starts historically being the norm before being the exception, and that in over eighty electoral democracies of the present spoiling of public resources by ruling elites has become the rule of the game and the number one collective action problem.” — European Research Center for Anti-Corruption and State-building

“Corruption is a major factor impeding economic development and growth, good governance and the rule of law. Efforts to illuminate or at least greatly reduce it have not enjoyed limited success. We need a better understanding of what facilitates it and what discourages it. “The Quest for Good Governance” (Cambridge University Press) by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, uniquely attempts to pull together and link research and experience across disciplines, historical timeframes and geographic boundaries in the search for answers to these questions. It distills current understanding of some of the key lessons we have and have not learned over the last two decades in the global anti-corruption and democratization arena.” — Cayman Financial Review

“The Quest for Good Governance combines sophisticated conceptual discussion (for example, of the varying definitions of corruption and their consequences) with a historical perspective and a critical statistical analysis of various databases. It is a good example of a multi-method approach to a huge and complex problem” — International Review of Administrative Sciences

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

There is remarkable consistency across attitudes: low trust in government goes with high perception of corruption among officials, a general perception that the law does not treat everyone equally and that favoritism rather than merit explains social advancement.

The development of corruption control comes only after social control is achieved and violence preserved within certain boundaries.

European control of corruption can be regarded as almost the only historically successful process of state building in which a long transition to ethical universalism has resulted in an equilibrium where opportunities for corruption are largely checked by societal control of rulers and reasonable reciprocal control by the government.

What is ultimately needed is not a nonexistent silver bullet, but rather a better alignment of tools with contexts, in particular with already existing human agency in favor of change.

If modernity is the quintessence of good governance with its build-up of a critical mass of enlightened citizens, accountable politicians, and trustworthy magistrates, public corruption emerges as a catchword for the lack of the institutionalization of a market economy and democracy in transition societies.

Corruption at the individual level has been attributed, as have other criminal activities, to individuals’ weighting of the expected costs and benefits of their actions in a given context and making their decisions on how to act “not because their basic motivation differs from other persons, but because their benefits and costs differ.”

When costs are low and opportunities are high, it is rational for individuals to be corrupt; especially, if those around them behave similarly.

Globalization may have brought more money into poor and developing countries, thereby feeding corruption, but it also brought freedom of trade and communication, enabling people around the world to inform themselves and associate with one another.