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Causes of Corruption: Towards a Contextual Theory of Corruption

Author: GJALT DE GRAAF
Published in PAQ, Vol. 31 No. 1

The more we know about the causes of corruption, the better
we can decide which policy instruments to use to combat corruption.
The primary question of this article is: how can the causes of corruption
in Western countries be studied? Here, an overview is presented of the
causes of corruption mentioned in the literature using the kind of
causality of explanations of corruption as an organizing principle. Six
groups of theories are distinguished concerning causes of corruption,
paying attention to the discourse on corruption control these groups of
theories lead to. A primary conclusion is that there are not many studies
on actual, individual corruption cases. It seems, therefore, that we need
more contextual corruption research; many current studies lack
contingency. The overview also makes clear that the theoretical model
chosen determines, for a large part, the direction of the proposed
solutions. Different causal chains lead to different discourses on
corruption prevention and corruption control.

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