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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Mihaiela Ristei
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Political Science
Title: Competing Formal and Informal Institutions in a Democratizing Setting: An Institutional Analysis of Corruption in Romania
Dr. Jim Butterfield, Chair
Dr. Gunther Hega
Dr. Sybil Rhodes
Dr. Rasma Karklina
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
3301 Friedmann Hall
This dissertation explores the interaction between formal institutions and the informal institution of corruption in Romania from 1997 until 2006. The study argues that corruption is an informal institution that creates incentives incompatible with the formal rules, alters the effectiveness of formal institutions, undermines the rule of law, and threatens democratic consolidation. Specifically, the research tests the capacity of formal institutions to counteract the informal institution of corruption and thus to reduce corruption in four sectors: the judiciary, customs, health care, and public procurement. The research project investigates the methods to restructure incentives and increase the effectiveness of formal institutions, the factors that influence the success or failure of anticorruption strategies, and the capacity of anticorruption strategies to restructure incentives. An institutional analysis of corruption contributes to our understanding of when and why anti-corruption programs fail or succeed.
The study employs a mixed methodology. The predominant methodology is qualitative and quantitative analyses are integrated whenever appropriate (e.g., testing for statistically significance relationships between variables or statistically significant differences between trends). The qualitative longitudinal analysis of the four sectors in Romania uses the “most similar with different outcomes” research design.
The dissertation shows that, particularly after 2000, there were clear indications of political will manifested through comprehensive diagnoses of corruption, the intermittent inclusion of the main stakeholders in the policy-making process, the adoption of anticorruption, and the creation of more transparent monitoring systems at the national and sectoral level. Moreover, one factor stood out in explaining the presence or absence of political will, namely the external pressure exercised by the European Union (EU). The EU pressure was a constant factor in explaining the instances of political will and in supporting the anti-corruption leaders if and when they appeared. The public opinion pressure was shown to be insufficient by itself to stimulate political will and to lead to the adoption of anticorruption reforms, particularly outside the election years.