Davide Torsello, ed., Corruption in Public Administration: An Ethnographic Approach (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2016). 258 pp. $110.79 (hardcover), ISBN: 9811785362583.

Published date01 March 2018
Date01 March 2018
Book Reviews 325
Davide Torsello , ed., Corruption in Public Administration: An
Ethnographic Approach ( Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar , 2016 ).
258 pp. $110.79 (hardcover), ISBN: 9811785362583 .
P ublic administration is diminished when
corruption becomes a systemic activity. It is also
diminished when corrupt transgressions take
place. In the latter set of cases, the response is that the
transgressor is usually a lone wolf, a rotten apple in an
otherwise sound barrel.
Sometimes the argument is that the transgression is due
to bad behavior, sometimes to poor systems and poor
enforcement, and sometimes to culture and the human
condition where some people are inevitable on the
make. From time to time, economists suggest that a bit
of corruption makes for efficient transactions and speeds
up processes bound up in a bureaucratic mire. This
argument does not hold as it really reflects problems in
public administration. These problems should generally
be solved by better program design, better structures for
program delivery, and an enforcement regimen where
processes are blatantly abused.
There are many types of corruption. We often think
of bribery and kickbacks as the mainstay of corrupt
behavior. While these are most recognized, things like
misuse of information, conflict of interest, cronyism,
nepotism, abuse of discretion, self-dealing, extortion,
trading in influence, and pay to play are all part of the
corruption landscape.
These transgressions can fundamentally affect public
policy and, in some jurisdictions, shape it. Clearly,
there is corruption in making the law and corruption
in implementing the law. These require different forms
of analysis, but both impinge on public administration.
Well-thought-out policies are easily undermined in
their administration when low-level officials take a
kickback to overlook a violation, certify something
that is not right, make something happen quicker,
or change a document to benefit somebody. When
groups of officials work together to divert money
from programs, run crooked procurement processes,
or improperly sell things that are not theirs to
sell and pocket the benefits personally, we have
conspiratorial and criminal behavior. There are also
corrupt organizations operating both domestically and
internationally. These have thrived on fraud, bribery,
improper allocation of contracts, political and market
manipulation, unauthorized secondary employment,
Reviewed by: Adam Graycar
Flinders University
Adam Graycar has taught public policy
at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
since 2015. Previously, he was professor
of public policy at the Australian National
University (ANU) and director of the
ANU Transnational Research Institute on
Corruption (TRIC). He also served as the
dean of Rutgers School of Criminal Justice
at Rutgers University–Newark. For 22 years,
he held senior posts in government in
Australia, both federal and state. His latest
book Understanding and Preventing
Corruption (with Tim Prenzler) was
published in the United Kingdom and New
York in 2013.
E-mail: adam.graycar@flinders.edu.au
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 78, Iss. 2, pp. 325–328. © 2018 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12930.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT