New book chapter: contribution to the 'Routledge Handbook of Political Corruption'

The newly-published Routledge Handbook of Political Corruption includes a contribution from DLP Director Heather Marquette in its section on new directions emerging in corruption research.

The handbook, edited by Paul Heywood, showcases the most innovative and exciting research on political corruption being conducted in Europe and North America and provides a new point of reference for all those who have an interest in the field.

Dr Marquette’s contribution is based on her research findings from fieldwork in India and Nigeria, and from a literature review looking for a causal relationship between religion and corruption. Her chapter, ‘Religion, Ethics and Corruption’, discusses why many of the most corrupt countries in the world also rank highly in terms of religiosity. 

Assumptions that religious people are more concerned with ethics and can therefore be more easily enrolled in efforts to fight corruption are flawed, she argues. Her findings from India and Nigeria show that while religion may have some impact on attitudes towards corruption, it has very little likely impact on actual corrupt behaviour. 

While corruption was universally condemned by respondents, it was seen as being so systemic that deciding to be uncorrupt often made little sense. By using a process that Bandura calls ‘selective moral disengagement’, respondents were able to justify their own attitudes and behaviour by describing corruption as a classic collective action problem rather than a matter of personal values or ethics.

Initiatives that present and address corruption simply as an ethical, right-versus-wrong issue are unlikely to be effective because they ignore the everyday experience of those facing widespread corruption in their societies. 

Dr Marquette is now researching how viewing corruption as a collective action problem can complement other theories to help design more effective anti-corruption interventions, and has just published the first paper emerging from this research, with DLP colleague Dr Caryn Peiffer. This is part of a collaborative project with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre.

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About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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