INmagazine Sayı 14 - Page 43

In places where corruption has beco- me systemic, endemic and pervasive such as in many developing count- ries, governments have failed to effe- ctively curb the menace of corruption which appears to be spiralling out of control. In those countries, govern- ment retains a monopoly over both the act of grand corruption and the institutional arrangements to fight it, leaving non-State actors looking on as mere spectators. In those countries many have come to believe corruption is a public sector issue with the power to fight it also resi- ding there. This has increasingly been shown over the last decade to be a flawed conception of the problem. is clear and agreed on the standard with which to judge their actual or anticipated behaviour, presence of factors to make it strongly try to avoid some outcomes whilst gunning for other outcomes (in other words, presence of clear positive incentives to benefit from and real sanctions to avoid) and a strong internally motivating force keeping the entity focused on living up to behavioural standards it has set for itself. Thing is, in a context where the incentives are perverse in that those who do right seemingly gain nothing and those who do wrong are not effec- tively sanctioned, self-regulation is weak at best. In some of these countries, civil so- ciety in the belief that there is power in activism, have drawn attention to the problem through mass protests and media exposées. There has been a clamour for greater access to go- vernment held information, adoption of open government data standards around public procurement, whist- leblower protection laws and so on. Today, there is a lot more transparen- cy in many countries through what TI refers to as “sunshine laws” but this has not necessarily translated into greater levels of public accountability or a reduction in corruption. The le- verage needed to translate the public anger and dissatisfaction over clear cases of corruption has not necessa- rily led to the anticipated change. Self-regulation preferred by busi- ness is the very thing that puts it in a catch-22 because this involves the unilateral choice to do right in a context where competitors are doing well by cutting corners, where clients are happy to pay for short-cuts to be followed or rules bent to get them off the hook, where government regula- tion lacks credibility in that it clearly serves special interests and not the public interest. In all this, the private sector has typi- cally kept its head down and stayed out of the fray. So, as far as some governments and civil society actors are concerned, business is part of the problem of corruption in developing countries, particularly big business. The reaction of business has been ty- pically to insist on self-regulation and non-interference from government and certainly civil society. However, self-regulation requires that business Business in corrupt climes are often left wondering whether it wouldn’t be suicidal to do right. And why is it business in this dilemma? This is because business is one of the biggest victims of corruption – paying more than necessary for government servi- ces through corruption, vulnerable to unpredictable and corrupt demands from government inspectors and approval agencies, competing for business and losing despite having the better competencies, experience and pricing to deliver sound value be- cause someone else has bribed. Many then wait it out trying to develop ‘algorithms’ that help them predict what they can do to also ‘win big’ like those who do so through corruption and success in business is reduced to the odds of a national lottery. If an individual business tries to go against this tide, it is easily crushed by the resulting backlash from the corrupt system. Governments that have tried to fight corruption in contexts where it has become an acceptable way of transa- cting in society have also found that “corruption fights back” and govern- ment on its own cannot fight systemic corruption. Civil society on its own cannot fight the menace and business on its own would find it suicidal to do so. There is now growing consensus that the approach to fighting systemic corruption must be holistic involving citizens, civil society, business and government. This end and how to achieve it bounds the intriguing sub- ject of collective action. Even though it makes sense that there is stren- gth in such diversity, this does not happen automatically because of the conflicting interests between these groups and the job of the facilitator of collective action is in ensuring and maintaining an alignment of interests between the participants to channel their strengths and energies in the same direction. Back to the hullaballoo. As anti-cor- ruption specialists have gotten the point of the approach and are innovating to achieve and maintain this alignment of interests, succes- ses are emerging. The innovations, successes and growing scale of application of the approach is causing commotion, clamour, excitement and energy amongst anti-corruption practitioners who are seeing greater breakthroughs against the malaise. I guess the excitement is akin to what cancer or HIV/Aids researchers might feel with every innovation that brings them a step closer to a cure for the disease. I think Collective Action is one such breakthrough, what do you think? 41