The History of Corruption in Central Government

Cahier d'Histoire de l'Administration no. 7


Tiihonen, S.

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The International Institute of Administrative Sciences has published a study of administrative corruption from an historical perspective. In the 1990s all major international organisations launched comprehensive programmes to curb corruption and maladministration, mostly in developing countries. The IIAS perspective concerning corruption is fresh, historical and focussed on developed countries. For example, the study tries to answer the following questions: Can we find general patterns in the development of corruption? What are the connections between administrative corruption, political corruption and development? What is the historical background for present-day corruption? The publication is comprised of nine country studies: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. In international corruption rankings today, most of these countries are quite low on the list. However, their history is not so clean. All of them have quite similar development histories with regard to corruption. They have also used similar methods to fight against corruption. Some of them have succeeded better than others. The most important explanation of differences is linked to political factors and background. In spite of the differences, all countries have been fighting against administrative corruption for a long time, notably since the late nineteenth century. The fight against corruption began with the advent of the modern Weberian public administration. According to this study the fight against administrative corruption cannot be separated from other reforms, such as good governance, nation-building and democratisation.