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SPP 518

Author: Richard Rose
Description: Open data makes transparent whether public officials are conducting their activities in conformity with standards that can be bureaucratic, political or moral. Actions that violate these standards are colloquially lumped together under the heterogeneous heading of corruption. However, the payment of a large bribe for a multi-million contract differs in kind from a party saying one thing to win votes and doing another once in office or an individual public figure promoting high standards of personal morality while conducting himself in private very differently. This paper conceptually distinguishes different forms of corruption with concrete examples. It also shows how sanctions for different forms of corruption require different sanctions: punishment by the courts, by political leaders or the electorate, or by public morality and a sense of individual shame. Such sanctions are most effective when there is normative agreement that standards have been violated. There are partisan as well as normative disagreements about whether standards have been violated. The paper concludes by pointing out that differences in violating standards require different policy responses.

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