Corruption is Bad: Normative Dimensions of the Anti-Corruption Movement

Author/s (editor/s):

Mlada Bukovansky

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Informed by a recent wave of academic and policy research, international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the OECD are increasingly attempting to incorporate anti-corruption measures into their respective missions. But while the concept of corruption makes little sense in the absence of a parametric normative distinction between that which properly belongs to the public sphere and that which belongs to the private or commercial sphere, there has been little effort by policy makers or students of international political economy to explicitly articulate and reflect upon the moral and ethical underpinnings of the concept of corruption. This paper reviews some of the key documents of the emerging global anti-corruption regime, and analyses the moral connotations permeating these documents. I also examine the relative neglect of moral and ethical issues within the scholarly literature on corruption and its consequences. Such neglect, I argue, is likely to undercut the legitimacy, and hence efficacy, of international institutional efforts to combat corruption.

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