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Political Corruption (University of Leiden)


This seminar introduces students to the issue of political corruption and the ways it is related politics and international relations. During the first part of the seminar some of the conceptual and theoretical issues involved in the study of political corruption will be investigated, including the definition of corruption, the distinction between corruption and other rent-seeking behavior such as clientelism and patronage, the relationships between various institutional and social factors and corruption, and ways of curbing the corrupt practices of political actors. In the second part of the course we will use the experience of several old and new democracies to illustrate this discussion and the way corruption has been used as a tool of international assistance, cooperation, and leverage by states and international organizations such as the EU and World Bank.

Dr. Maria Spirova is a lecturer of Comparative Politics and International Relations. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and has previously studied political science at the Central European University and the American University in Bulgaria. Before coming to Leiden, Dr. Spirova taught at Gettysburg College, PA. She works in the area of comparative politics and her research interests include political parties, the democratic representation of ethnic minorities, and the democratisation process.

 Reading and Assignments:

Arnold J. Heidenheimer and Michael Johnston, eds., Political Corruption: Concepts and Contexts (Transaction Publishers, 2002) (referred to as H&J on the syllabus),

 Topic: Political Corruption: Definition and conceptualization.

John A. Gardiner, “Defining Corruption,” in H&J

Mark E. Warren. “What Does Corruption Mean in a Democracy? American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, No. 2. (Apr., 2004), pp. 328-343. Stable URL:

Colin Leys, “What is the Problem about Corruption?” in H&J

Paolo Mauro, “The Effects of Corruption on Growth and Public Expenditure,” in H&J

Susan Rose-Ackerman, “When is Corruption Harmful?” in H&J

Topic: Consequences of Corruption: Democratic Legitimacy

 Christopher J. Anderson and Yuliya V. Tverdova, “Corruption, Political Allegiances, and Attitudes toward Government in Contemporary Democracies” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 91-109

 Mitchell A. Seligson, “The Impact of Corruption on Regime Legitimacy: A Comparative Study of Four Latin American Countries” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 64, No. 2 (December, 2002), pp. 408-433

 J.S. Nye, Corruption and Political Development in H&J 281-299

 Topic: Other Corrupt Behavior? Clientelism and Patronage

 Readings: Ingrid van Biezen and Petr Kopecký. The State and the Parties: Public Funding, Public Regulation and Rent-seeking in Contemporary Democracies. Party Politics, 13(2), 2007.

 Petr Kopecky and Gerardo Scherlis, “Party Patronage in Contemporary Europe” European Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, 355–371 2008,

 Bearfield, D. A. (2009). What is Patronage? A Critical Reexamination. Public Administration Review, Jan/Feb 2009, 64-76.

 Topic: Limiting Corruption: Domestic Factors

 Political Parties and Corruption section in H &J: pp 713-777

 Topic: Limiting Corruption: Domestic Factors Party Systems

 H&J, pp. 777-797

 Miriam Golden 1954-; Eric C. C. Chang “Competitive Corruption: Factional Conflict and Political Malfeasance in Postwar Italian Christian Democracy” World Politics Vol. 53, No. 4 (Jul., 2001), pp. 588-622

 O’Dwyer, Conor (2004). ‘Runaway State Building: How Political Parties Shape States in Post-communist Eastern Europe’, World Politics, 56, pp. 520-53.

Topic: Corruption around the Globe

 TI 2004 Global Corruption Report H&J, pp 513-532, 559-583, 627-645

Limiting Corruption: International Factors

Wayne Sandholtz and Mark M. Gray, “International Integration and National Corruption” International Organization Vol. 57, No. 4 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 761-800

MILADA ANNA VACHUDOVA, “Corruption and Compliance in the EU's Post-Communist Members and Candidates” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Special Issue: The JCMS Annual Review of the European Union in 2008 Volume 47, Issue Supplement s1, pages 43–62, September 2009

Ivar Kolstad, Arne Wiig, “ Is Transparency the Key to Reducing Corruption in Resource-Rich Countries?” World Development Volume 37, Issue 3, March 2009, Pages 521-532


 Sherrilyn M. Billger, Rajeev K. Goel, “Do existing corruption levels matter in controlling corruption?: Cross-country quantile regression estimates,” Journal of Development Economics, Volume 90, Issue 2, November 2009, Pages 299-305, ISSN 0304-3878, 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2008.07.006.


For further information, see:

14 Nov 2013

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