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Corruption, Development, and Good Governance (George Washington University)

This course examines corruption from real world as well as scholarly perspectives. It uses case studies, debates, guest lectures, and items from the news to examine how corruption can affect effective governance at the national and international levels and its trade spillovers. It also examines how new technologies and strategies (from cell phones to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative) can reduce corruption and improve governance.

Developed by Dr. Susan Aaronson, this course has the following learning objectives and outcomes.  

Upon completing the course, students will:

·         Understand the roots of corruption and its variants in different cultures;

·         Understand the debate among scholarly disciplines on corruption (e.g. economics, history, etc…)

·         Evaluate how corruption affects and distorts economic growth;

·         Be able to assess global and national strategies to reduce corruption; and

·         Evaluate how technology can facilitate and undermine accountability—“wikileaks anyone?”

 Learning Outcomes:

·        Be able to comprehend both corruption and anticorruption counterweights

·        Understand strategies at the national and international level to combat corruption.

·        Understand how corruption undermines democracy and constrains the voice of the poor. Understand its relationship to the resource curse, trade, and other economic activities.

·        Understand that transparency does not automatically yield accountability.

·        Help students develop comparative evaluation processes and skills essential to citizenship and policy stewardship.


Sample modules and readings are as follows:

Why study corruption:  Who is affected by corruption?

Sample readings: 

1.      K. Elliott (ed.), Corruption and the Global Economy (Washington, D.C.: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 1997), “Introduction”, p. 1-5; S. Rose-Ackerman, “The Political Economy of Corruption” in E. Elliott (ed.), Corruption and the Global Economy, pp. 31-60

2.      J.G. Lambsdorff, “Consequences and Causes of Corruption”, in S. Rose-Ackerman (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption (Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006)

3.      Foreign Policy (UK), “Bed, Bath & Bribes: IKEA’s struggle to do business in Putin’s Russia”, October 2010 [online] Available at: <,1>

Trust, institutions, and corruption as rational behaviour

Sample readings:

1.      B. Rothstein & E. M. Uslaner, “All for All: Equality, Corruption and Social Trust”, World Politics 58 (3):41-72, 2005

2.      J. G. Lambsdorff & M. Nell, “Corruption: Where we stand and where to go”, in M. Kreutner (ed.), The Corruption Monster: Ethik, Politik und Korruption (Vienna: 2006)

Openness, international factors and corruption

Sample readings:

1.      W. Sandholtz & M.M. Gray, “International Integration and National Corruption”,   International Organization, 57(4): 761-800, 2003

2.      F. Bonaglia et al., “How Globalisation Improves Governance”, OECD Development Centre Working Paper, no. 181, 2001 [online] Available at: <>     

3.      N. Charron, “The Impact of Socio-Political Integration and Press Freedom on Corruption”, Journal of Development Studies, 45(9): 1472-1493, 2009

 How corruption can undermine human rights and how anticorruption measures can improve access to opportunities

Sample readings:  

1.      Transparency International, “Human Rights and Corruption”, Transparency International Working Paper, no. 5, 2008 [online] Available at: <


2.      S. Gupta et al., “Does Corruption Affect Income Inequality and Poverty?”, IMF Working Paper No. 98/76, 1998

3.      R. Reinikka & J. Svensson, “The Returns from Reducing Corruption: Evidence from Education in Uganda,” IIES Working Paper, 2007

Corruption metrics

Sample readings:  

1.      D. Kaufmann & A. Kraay, „Governance Indicators:  Where are We, Where Should We be Going”, World Bank Institute Policy Research Paper 4370, 2008 [online] Available at: <>

2.      C. Arndt & C. Oman, Uses and Abuses of Governance Indicators (OECD Development Centre Studies, 2006) [online] Available at: <>


For more information, please see:

31 Jan 2012

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