Corruption and Social Values — A Challenging Area to Research
Prof. Dr. Christian Welzel's (Leuphana University, Laboratory of Comparative Social Research at the HSE — Saint Petersburg) research focuses on the question of how ordinary people’s value orientations vary across the political cultures of contemporary societies in a global comparative perspective. The HSE English language News Service asked Professor Welzel to tell us more about how he sees the problem of corruption.
Prof. Dr. Christian Welzel is Chair in Political Culture Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University in Germany and Foreign Consultant at the Laboratory of Comparative Social Research at the HSE — Saint Petersburg. Christian Welzel's research focuses on the question of how ordinary people’s value orientations vary across the political cultures of contemporary societies in a global comparative perspective. An article on his recent research with colleagues at LCSR, “Corruption and social values: do post-materialists justify bribe taking?”was published on-line in the working papers series Sociology. His book Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation. New York: has just been published by Cambridge University Press. The HSE English language News Service asked Professor Welzel to tell us more about how he sees the problem of corruption.
— Corruption is an international issue. What's specific about corruption in post-Soviet countries?
Each of the post-Soviet countries has its specific problems with corruption. But there are also communalities. Corruption flourishes in societies in which political patronage is widespread and prevalent. Unfortunately, many of the post-Soviet countries share a double legacy of pronounced political patronage. The older legacy goes back to the communist one-party state with its nomenclatura practice. The younger legacy is a result of the bailouts and privatization after the collapse of communism, which created oligarchs and mafia-like structures. These are difficult legacies to overcome, especially since the continuation of patronage-practice is often propagated as "Russian" style politics in contrast to Western precepts.
— What's the difference, if any, between corruption and bribery?
I would see bribery as single acts of embezzlement, patronage, nepotism, favouritism and the like. By contrast, corruption is in place when these wrongdoings become a system.
— What are the research methods for corruption?
These are difficult legacies to overcome, especially since the continuation of patronage-practice is often propagated as "Russian" style politics in contrast to Western precepts
Since corruption is usually happening in the hidden economy, there is no official record of it. Thus, we need to rely on perceptive measures, like those gathered in surveys.
— What are your latest findings on the issue?
I created an index of effective democracy, which downgrades a democracy's quality for the presence of corruption. When we use this measure, we recognize that the improvements in democratization that many authors have noted over recent decades look much more modest. Most new democracies are highly corrupt and, thus, ineffective in fulfilling their purpose of empowering the people.
— You've been cooperating with the HSE for three years now. What are the main challenges for international cooperation in research? What are your plans for the future with colleagues at the HSE?
I see more opportunities than challenges. I have profited hugely from interacting with people at the HSE. I definitely plan to continue this cooperation and am convinced that life-long research networks have been built of which more and more HSE scholars are an integral part. I intend to continue helping to further develop the LCSR, with which I have the strongest connections.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE English language news service
Students at the HSE School of Integrated Communications, Faculty of Communications, Media and Design won all the prizes in a public service advertising competition against corruption. The contest is run by the Moscow City department for competition policy. The HSE students’ posters were selected from 175 pieces submitted from different Russian regions and the near abroad. The prize giving ceremony was in a city government building on New Arbat on December 10.
The HSE International Institute of Administration and Business held a master-class with Peter Knauer, management advisor for the food manufacturer Mars Inc in Russia. Peter Knauer has more than 20 years experience of working in Central and Eastern Europe and specialises in the chocolate business. He was head of Cadbury’s in the region and a director for Mars in the CIS. Peter’s presentation was called ‘Innovations in Business: nice to have or must be?’He gave an interview to HSE’s News Service.
On June 5, research fellows at the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR) took part in the 3rd International Conference ‘Business Ethics and National Models of Behavior’, which was held at the Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance.
The more income a policeman and his family earn, the less open he is to corruption. Tatiana Karabchuk report “Wages and unofficial payments in the police: a comparative analysis in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia”.
If the majority of a country’s population moved from values of survival to values of self-expression, individuals with both types of values will try to avoid corrupt behaviour. But if, as in Russia, values of survival prevail in society, individuals with values of self-expression are inclined to act corruptly. This is the conclusion of a study by Maria Kravtsova and Alexey Oshchepkov.