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Oksana Huss will co-chair two panels on corruption and anti-corruption at the next ECPR General Conference

The two panels are "Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Empirical Research: Methodological, Ethical and Security Challenges" and "Measuring Political Corruption - How to Hit a Moving Target?"

28 AUGUST 2020


ECPR General Conference - Online


Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Empirical Research: Methodological, Ethical and Security Challenges


Corruption takes place behind the closed doors, which makes empirical research on corruption challenging. After decades of corruption research, we still struggle to produce reliable measures of corruption and assess the success of anti-corruption efforts. From case studies, to experiments and large-n comparisons – all of these methods require dealing with the challenges that secrecy around corruption poses[MP1] . Moreover, increasing tendency of the democratic backsliding poses security issues for corruption researchers in many countries. Often, especially during the field studies, researchers have to rely on the interviews from informants, whose security depends on the ethical standards of the researchers. Practically, corruption researchers face the dilemma of producing transparent and replicable data, but at the same time, they have to keep the identities of the informants and respondents in secret. In addition, researchers studying corrupt actors may themselves walk on the thin ice of security and facing ethical dilemmas of boarders of their research. It makes the questions of data management, security and ethics highly relevant, more than most other research fields in the social sciences.

For this panel, we welcome contributions that critically reflect on limitations and benefits of particular methods of data collection and its analysis in corruption research, both quantitative and qualitative. We also invite papers that address ethical and security-related issues in applying different methods of researching corruption.

Measuring Political Corruption - How to Hit a Moving Target?


Corruption researchers face an unavoidable challenge of how to operationalize and measure corruption that is secretive in nature. Corruption has become an increasingly politicized issue and its measurements are often vulnerable to manipulations, which makes the demand for objective measures of political corruption even more pressing. Over the past twenty years, the efforts to measure corruption have helped to put corruption on the global policy agenda. The most widely used indicators, for example the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, the World Bank’s Control of Corruption indicator and measures from the Quality of Government and Varieties of Democracy Datasets, are based on perceptions and experts’ opinions. Research community has a growing awareness of the biases that corruption measures based on citizen- and expert-surveys entail; yet to ensure better quality of the measurements, more research is needed on sources of those biases. At the same time, a great increase in the available data on corruption together with improving computational techniques create new analytical possibilities for corruption researchers, but also require critical reflection on limitations and benefits of the available data sources. This panel will address limitations of available measurements of political corruption and discuss new approaches to measuring political corruption. It welcomes both qualitative and quantitative reflections on biases and possible improvements of political corruption measures.