You are here: Home / Resources / Frontpage Articles / 2011 ACRN Research Paper Contest Winners Announced!

2011 ACRN Research Paper Contest Winners Announced!

We are very happy to announce the results of the 2011 ACRN Research Paper contest. This contest aims to give young scholars an opportunity to take up the challenge of filling important knowledge gaps, present innovative approaches for measuring and understanding corruption and showcase new findings on what works and what does not in tackling corruption. This year’s competition was intended for young scholars who are graduate students, post-doctoral fellows or scholars who have completed their PhDs within the last three years. The contest was made possible by the generous contributions of Transparency International, the Quality of Government Institute and the Institute for Security Studies.

In response to our call, we received many high quality research papers spanning a wide variety of topics - from corruption issues in the CDM process, judicial corruption in China, to innovative new techniques to combat corruption by combining top-down and bottom-up accountability mechanisms. Selecting the winner was not an easy task for our jury of international experts. The papers were evaluated on their originality of perspective / approach, their ability to grasp the complexity of debates around their chosen topic, and their presentation of a sound argument in favour of the thesis.


We are very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 ACRN research paper competition is Yuhua Wang. Yuhua is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His winning submission tackles the very interesting relationship between authoritarian rulers, foreign investment, and judicial corruption. Taking China as a case study, he examines whether local governments that rely on foreign investors for revenues are more likely to ensure judicial fairness. As the winner of the competition, Yuhua will receive a stipend of 1500 Euros towards the attendance of a research conference of his choice.


David Jancsics’ submission on the role of the clients in petty corruption transactions in Central Eastern Europe also won high praise from the judges. His paper was chosen as the runner up of the contest and he will receive a stipend of 750 Euros towards the attendance of a research conference.  


The competition between top five papers was very close and we believe that the other three papers in the short-list also deserve an honorary mention for providing new insights on policy-relevant corruption issues. These are – a submission by Michael Sartor on the impact of corruption on multi-national enterprise strategy; a bribery lab experiment that examines the effectiveness of combining top-down and bottom-up monitoring mechanisms by Danila Serra; an empirical examination of the regulation of transnational corporate bribery by Nicholas Lord.


We are grateful to our international panel of judges for taking time out of their very busy schedules to participate in the judging process. The members of the panel were (in no particular order):

-        Adam Graycar, Director of the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

-        Bo Rothstein, August Röhss Chair in Political Science at Gothenburg University and Head of the Quality of Government Institute, Sweden

-        Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor and chair of the European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State Building Research, Hertie School of Governance, Germany

-        Delia Ferreira Rubio, Board Member, Transparency International and President of  Poder Ciudadano – TI’s National Chapter in Argentina

-        Daniel Hough, Director of the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption, University of Sussex

-        Rizwan Khair, Director, Institute for Governance Studies, BRAC University, Bangladesh

-        Ipshita Basu, Research Fellow, Institute for Governance Studies, BRAC University, Bangladesh

-        Daryl Balia, Head of Corruption and Governance Programme, Institute for Security Studies, South Africa

-        Farzana Nawaz, Editor, Anti-Corruption Research Network, Transparency International Secretariat, Germany


We would like to thank all the participants for their submissions. The abstracts of the top 5 short-listed papers can be found below and some of the papers are also available for download. The innovative spirit and refreshing diversity of the papers clearly demonstrates: corruption research by young scholars can make a tremendous contribution to our understanding of corruption and anti-corruption.





Farzana Nawaz

Editor, the Anti-Corruption Research Network


Winning Submission

When do authoritarian rulers build less corrupt courts: Sub-national evidence from China

Yuhua Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania


When do authoritarian rulers build less corrupt courts? This paper seeks to address this question in a Chinese context. I argue that foreign capital’s influence is a factor that contributes to cleaning up Chinese courts in the commercial realm. Foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have a strong preference for judicial fairness because FIEs are not as competitive as domestic enterprises in seeking privileges from the government, and FIEs are subject to stricter auditing rules imposed by their countries of origin. Hence, foreign investors exert a strong pressure for a fair legal system. Local governments, relying on FIEs for promoting economic growth, are likely to clean up courts in the commercial realm while still imposing constraints on citizens’ rights to challenge the state in the political realm. This paper tests these hypotheses qualitatively based on elite interviews and quantitatively using an original data set compiled from survey data in China.

The full paper can be downloaded here:

Please note that this paper is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License. For more information, please see here.  




Petty corruption in Central Eastern Europe: The client's role

David Jancsics, PhD Candidate in sociology at City University of New York


Scholars often distinguish between two types of corruption: petty and grand corruption. While grand corruption occurs at the highest levels of state institutions and private corporations, petty corruption typically involves low-level officials of state administrations and their clients. Most studies of petty corruption examine the role of the “agent”, who acts corruptly in a formal structure, and the “principal”, who tries to monitor the agent, but discount the importance of the “clients” who are consumers of illegally sold goods and services. This qualitative study examines petty corruption from the perspective of clients by using the unusual strategy of conducting 50 in-depth interviews in post-communist Hungary with actors who actively participated in corruption or at least had a very close and direct insight into the phenomenon. The main goal of this paper is to reveal how clients from different social strata deal with low level public and private employees in corrupt exchanges.

The author used snowball sampling, a technique applicable when it is difficult to identify and contact the members of a target population, or when the subject matter--like corruption--is sensitive. This study took a grounded theory approach, a method that focuses on explanatory models rooted firmly in empirical observation. Grounded theory is based systematic inductive analysis of transcribed interviews using qualitative coding and “theoretical memos” to identify connections between the narratives and the codes.

Interviewees described two contrasting types of petty corruption in Hungary. In the first, “on-the-spot” transactions, the client and the agent do not have a prior relationship. Here, the corrupt act is the first, and almost always the last, time they meet. On the spot external factors dominate the relationship. The other type is a “bond-based” transaction that is grounded in social ties between the corrupt actors and a higher frequency of interactions. Here, the client has more freedom to structure the corrupt transaction. Bond-based corruption often goes beyond dyadic relationships and takes on a network characteristic, involving brokers and other participants. However, variation in social distance in petty corruption, measured by social class differences between clients and agents, affects the strategies that clients use to deal with street-level agents. This study provides an analysis of such strategies and adds some new pieces to the puzzle of enduring corruption in Central Eastern Europe.

For more information on the paper, please contact David at:

Honorable Mentions

Measuring Corruption and its impact on multinational enterprise strategy

Michael Sartor, PhD Candidate, Richard Ivey School of Business


While scholars have expended considerable effort investigating the effect of corruption on foreign direct investment flows, economic growth and poverty, less is known about the relationship between perceived corruption and firm strategy.  We introduce new constructs designed to measure perceived corruption and develop hypotheses based upon institutional theory to study the relationship between corruption and multinational enterprise strategy.  Our results revealed that an increase in perceived corruption predicted an increased likelihood that multinational enterprise would operate its investment via a wholly-owned subsidiary.

For more information on the paper, please contact Michael at:

Combining top-down and bottom-up accountability: Evidence from a bribery experiment

Danila Serra, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Florida State University


Monitoring corruption typically relies on top-down interventions aimed at increasing the probability of external controls and/or the severity of punishment. An alternative approach to fighting corruption is to rely on bottom-up monitoring. This paper investigates the effectiveness of an accountability system that combines bottom-up monitoring and top-down auditing using data from a specifically designed bribery lab experiment. I compare “public officials’” tendency to ask for bribes under: 1) no monitoring; 2) conventional top-down auditing, and 3) an accountability system that gives citizens the possibility to report corrupt officials, knowing that reports lead to top-down auditing with some low probability (the same as in 2). The experimental results suggest that “combined” accountability systems can be highly effective in curbing corruption, even when citizens’ “voice” leads to formal top-down punishment with a relatively low probability.

You can read the full paper here:

Please note that this paper is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License. For more information, please see here.  


Negotiating the regulation of transnational corporate bribery: Empirical data from the UK and Germany

Nicholas Lord, PhD Candidate, Cardiff University


Business transactions are increasingly transnational in nature, a factor that has opened up increased opportunities for white collar crimes and the possibility of externalising risk. Both in the official narratives of international conventions and in the narratives of criminological theory, the problem of controlling trans-nationally organised corporate bribery has not been sufficiently analysed. The central purpose of this article is to draw on the broader research literature on regulation to complement criminological insights which hitherto, and notwithstanding notable exceptions, have been preoccupied with problems of white-collar and corporate crime within (rather than across) nation-states. The article begins with analysis of the difficulties of policing transnational crimes and is subsequently demarcated into an analysis of theories of enforcement, theories of non-enforcement and theories of integration. The argument of the article is as follows: despite analytically important differences and similarities in the anti-bribery enforcement models in the UK and Germany, the key finding is that whether centralised or decentralised, criminal law enforcement alone is a severely limited mechanism for controlling transnational corporate bribery.

For more information on the paper, please contact Nicholas at:


Author :

05 Apr 2012

Bookmark and Share

Document Actions

Our partner