Accountability and Corruption (Pehmeäkantinen kirja)

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Representative democracy is characterized by delegation of power. As a consequence, principal-agent relationships are established between citizens and their representatives, and beyond. Delegation of power from principals to agents has many advantages, but also involves risks in that agents may choose to disregard the wishes of their principal. This may take the form of corruption, i.e. engagement in behaviour which deviates from the formal duties of a public role for personal benefit or that of family members, friends etc.

This study regards political institutions as entities capable of solving many of the problems between principals and agents, including cases whereby agents engage in corrupt practices. The study regards political institutions as problem-solvers in this respect, in that they provide rules and procedures according to which principals can hold agents to account. Departing from the lines of accountability inherent to a number of political institutions tend to send a multitude of often contradictory signals with regards to accountability, at times enhancing accountability and at others hampering it. As a consequence, single political institutions also have reducing as well as increasing effects on levels of corruption.

The study recognizes that institution-building does not constitute a panacea against corruption, and also analyses a number of other factors with a bearing on levels of corruption. These include individual leaders as well as their values, leadership styles, strategies, policy choices and contributions to institution-building.

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