Introduction to PAR Symposium of Understanding and Reducing Public Corruption

AuthorDavid Jancsics,Adam Graycar,Yahong Zhang
Published date01 July 2019
Date01 July 2019
Introduction to PAR Symposium of Understanding and Reducing Public Corruption 519
A s public corruption continues to draw media
attention as a global concern, and as one
of the most pressing policy challenges to
tackle, scholarly investigation into this subject
has been relatively meager, especially in public
administration and related fields. Due to the literature
scarcity, several critical questions remain understudied
and are thus poorly understood. For instance,
although many countries have made great efforts to
fight corruption, why did many of them fail? We
argue that the success of anticorruption initiatives
depends on a better understanding of the problem at
all levels—national, organizational, and individual.
The PAR symposium of Understanding and Reducing
Public Corruption aims to advance research on public
corruption to extend the knowledge base for a deeper
understanding of this complex phenomenon.
The Theme of the Symposium
This symposium consists of seven articles, each
addressing diverse research questions around two
major topics—(1) how we can better understand
corruption, and (2) how we can reduce it. Jancsics’s
(2019) article provides an innovative conceptual
framework to classify corruption types and
anticorruption tools to match the two for more
desirable policy outcomes. Three articles in the
symposium pay close attention to the propensity of
individuals to engage in corruption, with Ni and Su
(2019) focusing on ordinary citizens, Zhang et al.
(2019) on low-level public employees, and Silitonga
et al. (2019) on senior- level civil servants. Araral et
al.’s (2019) article also explains the proclivity for
corruption at the micro level, but they use firms as the
units of analysis. The remaining two articles shift the
focus toward local governments. Nelson and Afonso
(2019) investigate the extent to which the council–
manager form of city government in the United States
contributes to anticorruption, whereas Ingrams and
Schachter (2019) take corruption as a predictor of
adopting e-participation in a South African context.
Overall, the symposium covers both conceptual and
empirical work; corruption issues at the micro to
meso levels; and data from multiple countries and
continents, including China, Indonesia, United States,
South Africa, and Sub-Saharan African countries.
The articles in the symposium contribute to the
literature by addressing and narrowing several
gaps. First, the articles shed light on corruption at
the micro and meso levels. The existing research
focuses primarily on macro-level investigations,
with countries as the units of analysis to identify
institutional factors, including democratization,
business freedom, transparency, a free press, and
judicial independence, among others, that may
determine the degree of corruption in a nation (e.g.,
Bauhr and Grimes 2014; Kwon 2013; Relly 2012).
Corruption research at the individual, organizational,
and local government levels is equally critical as these
levels are not free from corruption. Understanding
motivations for corruption and the conditions that
influence it at the micro and meso levels will help
develop diverse and omni- bearing mechanisms to
reduce corruption effectively.
Another literature gap pertains to the measurement
of corruption. Cross-country studies embracing the
macro approach predominantly use composite indices.
They conceptualize corruption as a “general thing,”
which makes it difficult to understand specific forms
of corruption in actual government institutions.
The articles of this symposium move closer to the
phenomenon by measuring corruption in a more
specific way. Of course, measuring corruption at
a lower level, especially at the individual level, is
challenging because people typically conceal their
unethical behaviors, and when asked about these
behaviors, they tend to provide nonresponses or
responses that are socially desirable (e.g., DeMaio
1984; Rubin and Whitford 2008). All six empirical
pieces in this symposium make efforts to measure
corruption in a robust manner, five of which use well-
designed survey questions and one that applies the
number of corruption convictions from the annual
government report.
Introduction to PAR Symposium of Understanding and
Reducing Public Corruption
Flinders University
Adam Graycar
Yahong Zhang
Rutgers University-Newark
David Jancsics
San Diego State University
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 4, pp. 519–522. © 2019 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13086.
Adam Graycar is professor of public
policy at Flinders University, Adelaide,
Australia. He has held senior academic
positions at the Australian National
University and at Rutgers University. He
spent 22years as a government official
(Federal and State) in Australia. His latest
book is
Understanding and Preventing
(with Tim Prenzler) Palgrave
Macmillan, NY, 2013.
David Jancsics is assistant professor in
the School of Public Affairs, San Diego State
University. His general fields of interest are
corruption, organizational wrongdoing,
and informal practices. His current research
agenda focuses on corruption in border
law enforcement agencies. In 2014, his
coauthored paper, “The Role of Power in
Organizational Corruption,” was selected
as the winner of the Best Article Award of
the Public and Nonprofit Division of the
Academy of Management.
Yahong Zhang is associate professor
in the School of Public Affairs and
Administration (SPAA) and director of
Rutgers Institute on Anti-Corruption
Studies (RIACS) at Rutgers University
in Newark. Her research focuses on the
politics–administration dichotomy, citizen
participation, and anticorruption. She is
editor of
Government Anti-Corruption
Strategies: A Cross-Cultural Perspective,
published by Taylor & Francis in 2015.

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