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The ‘real politics’ of systemic corruption: theoretical debates versus ‘real-world’ functions
The authors, Marquette, H. and Pfeiffer, C., of the 2018 paper. Grappling with the “real politics” of systemic corruption: Theoretical debates versus ‘real-world’ functions (Governance. Vol. 31. Issue 3), unpack the critique of anti-corruption efforts that says these are failing due to a flawed theoretical foundation. They advance several arguments related to the views that collective action theory is said to be a better lens for understanding corruption than the dominant principal-agent theory:
- The application of collective action theory to the issue of corruption has been, thus far, incomplete.
- A collective action theory-based approach to corruption is in fact complementary to a principal-agent approach, rather than contradictory as is claimed.
- Applications of both theories have failed to recognise that corruption persists because it functions to provide solutions to problems.
The authors conclude by arguing that anti-corruption effectiveness is difficult to achieve because it requires insights from all three perspectives – principal-agent theory, collective action theory, and corruption as serving functions – which allows for a better understanding of how to harness the political will needed to fight corruption.