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Corruption and governance around the world: An empirical investigation

20 March 2008

PhD ceremony: H.S. Gunardi, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD thesis: Corruption and governance around the world: An empirical investigation

Promotor: prof. J. de Haan

Faculty: economics, management and organization


Corruption not permanent but variable

Corruption does not have a fixed character – it can change over time. Corrupt countries can show improvement, ‘clean’ countries can spiral downwards. This is the conclusion of Harry Seldadyo Gunardi, whose PhD research investigated worldwide corruption and administration. Gunardi also states that good or bad administration is generally regionally determined – the quality of the administration in neighbouring countries influences that in the country at issue.

Corruption has many economic and social consequences for a country. It results in people remaining poor and illiterate, in a high infant mortality rate and a high drop-out rate at primary school. In addition, corruption has a negative effect on income distribution within countries, on the quality of the public infrastructure and the growth of productivity. Corruption indexes reveal that sixty to eighty percent (depending on the measure) of countries in the world are governed by corrupt bureaucrats. These countries are mainly in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Corruption is not only omnipresent, many authors also think that it has a permanent character. According to PhD student Harry Seldadyo Gunardi this is not correct – just like other (political) institutions, corruption is not a static phenomenon. He concludes that corruption changes over time. Data from the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) for the period 1984-2003 reveal that many corrupt countries in that period saw their corruption levels fall, whereas many ‘clean’ countries became more corrupt. Across the world, between 1984 and 2003 there was an improvement in the amount of corruption in the first half of this period and a decline in the second part.

Unlike corruption, good administration can significantly promote economic growth. Gunardi’s research has revealed that the administration of a country shows a positive relationship with that of neighbouring countries: the closer a country is to one with the best or worst administration in the region, the higher or lower the quality of its own administration. Neighbouring countries thus jointly influence whether a country has a good or a bad administration, according to Gunardi. Thus in his opinion regional cooperation would be very effective.

Harry Seldadyo Gunardi (Indonesia, 1966) studied Economics of Development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Thanks to an Ubbo Emmius grant, he conducted his PhD research at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen, supervised by Prof. J. de Haan.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.37 p.m.

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