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Political Corruption and Governance (Columbia University)

This course on comparative political corruption is both relevant to the field of comparative politics and public policy, and is suitable for a wide-range of graduate and undergraduate students in political science, public policy, international affairs, business (international business ethics), and law (white-collar crimes). As a comparative politics survey, it will introduce students to several key social science debates on the causes and effects of political corruption. Through on-going discussions about whether corruption hurts economic development and political stability, this class will provide a better understanding of the impact of corruption on bureaucracy, the economy, and society at large.


Course Description: 

As one of the oldest and most perplexing phenomena in human society, political corruption exists in almost every country in the contemporary world. Social scientists and policy makers have long been baffled by the relationship between corruption and political and economic development and the question of how to successfully contain corruption. Conventional wisdom is that corruption harms rule of law, demoralizes the society, and inhibits economic growth. But it is more often assumed than tested and proven. Much has been written about political corruption. Yet many questions still remain. In this class, five sets of broad questions that are most common in the discourse on corruption and governance are examined: 

    (1) Definition of Corruption: Is the concept of corruption universal? Is it possible to find a commonly accepted and applicable definition of corruption? Should there be a universal standard of "good governance"?

    (2) Causes of Corruption: What are the possible causes of political corruption in general? What are the causes of corruption in different of types of regimes? Is there a general theory of corruption?

    (3) Patterns of Corruption: What are the various patterns of political corruption in countries of different political and economic development? How does it occur? In what form?

    (4) Consequences of Corruption: How does corruption affect social and economic development? Why has corruption inhibited economic growth and democratization in some countries but not others? Can corruption be "efficient" and "positive"?

    (5) Control of Corruption: Can corruption be controlled? If so, how? What are the most effective ways to reduce, contain, and eliminate corruption?


For more information on the course syllabus, please see:


23 Aug 2010

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