Dysfunctional Social Capital in Post-Communist States: Analyzing Correlates of Perceived Corruption in the Romanian Civil Service

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Title: Dysfunctional Social Capital in Post-Communist States: Analyzing Correlates of Perceived Corruption in the Romanian Civil Service
Author: Toma, Roxana Malina
Advisors: James E. Swiss, Committee Member
G. David Garson, Committee Chair
Michael L. Vasu, Committee Member
James H. Svara, Committee Member
Michael J. Struett, Committee Member
Abstract: This study investigates perceptions of corruption in the Romanian civil service and the factors that facilitate these perceptions. While most of the literature treats administrative corruption as a principal-agent problem between the state and government employees, this study employs social capital theory to investigate the roots of corruption within dysfunctional social capital. Moreover, most empirical research on corruption undertakes cross-country analysis to explain variance in perceived corruption ratings based on economic, political, and social indicators. However, the conditions underlying such indicators are difficult to change. This research is a survey-oriented analysis which attempts to identify specific causes and correlates of corruption in attitudes, behaviors and administrative institutions - all more possible to change than broad social conditions. This study uses a total of three data sets documenting perceptions of ethics and corruption in the civil service and covers more than 1,200 experts, elected officials and civil servants. The quantitative analysis employs logistic regression and path analysis with structural equation modeling in order to detect the primary correlates of elected officials’ and civil servants’ perceptions of corruption. Contrary to literature stereotypes about civil service pay in transition countries, this study suggests that remuneration is not a major factor in ethical behavior, but that other human resource reforms, including merit-based employment practices and worker empowerment would likely raise the quality and integrity of civil servants. Moreover, elected officials’ data suggest that decentralizing civil service management is likely to foster leadership on many of these issues. Finally, findings indicate that people’s perceptions of corruption are influenced by what is considered widespread and approved behavior in the society. Therefore, anyone wishing to diminish corruption should particularly attempt to shape civic attitudes, using education, television campaigns and other approaches to help citizens see that honesty is more widespread than they might believe. This also suggests that the government needs to aggressively publicize its anticorruption efforts, because this will lead to a greater reservoir of positive social capital.
Date: 2009-04-21
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Public Administration
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5641

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