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Questionable assumptions and unintended consequences: a critical assessment of the international donor community’s fight against corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mills, Linnea Cecilia (2012) Questionable assumptions and unintended consequences: a critical assessment of the international donor community’s fight against corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Following 15 years of high policy attention to curbing corruption in developing countries, this thesis concerns the effects of polices induced by the international donor community on curbing corruption in sub-Saharan Africa. I approach this question by assessing, in three stand-alone empirical chapters, the effects increased political competition, economic liberalisation, and the use of judicial punishment for corruption-related crimes have had on curbing corruption in sub-Saharan Africa. In the first empirical chapter, I assess the effect on corruption from increased political competition following the third wave of democratisation. While popular theories propose that political competition helps curb corruption by inducing political accountability, I find instead, in the sub-Saharan African context that in times of tense political competition the incumbent ensures his victory by buying the loyalty of the elite through distributing state resources for private means. This prebendal politics is, in turn, associated with higher levels of corruption. In the second empirical chapter, which concerns economic liberalisation and its effect on corruption, I ask what happens to corruption as the formal institutions governing the market change. Using insights from a case study on Rwanda, I find that corruption transforms rather than disappears in the advent of economic liberalisation. The third empirical chapter concerns the use of punishment for corruption-related crimes. By using politically contextualised information on prosecutions, I find that such anti-corruption interventions risk being used for political ends instead of curbing high level impunity. The overarching conclusion from this research endeavour is that corruption in the subSaharan African context has a political function which makes the reforms prescribed by the donor community difficult, or illogical, to fully comply with. The political functionality of corruption must therefore constitute the analytical cornerstone when developing anti-corruption policies in order to set realistic expectations and avoid unintended consequences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Linnea Cecilia Mills
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Wehner, Joachim
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/467

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