A grounded theory for corruption as an opportunity based crime

Abstract for presentation at Eurocrim2016.

22.9.2016 - J-Building J 4 at 08:30

A grounded theory for corruption as an opportunity based crime

In the last two decades corruption has risen to the highest echelons of societal and political discourse. There are many ways of fighting corruption and a broad consensus that there is no one size fits all remedy. Based on research involving interviews with over 20 influential key informants on the European scene, this paper suggests a focus shift. A shift that does not necessarily move all instrumental emphasis from one thing to the other, as in move a limited field of vision from one place to another, but rather to widen the field of vision and incorporating a largely neglected part of anti-corruption work. Using a grounded theory approach the analysis indicate the feature prominent for anti-corruption policy is the intrinsicality of the behaviour causing acts of corruption. Everyone has the potential to be corrupt through the fundamental drive for self-perseverance, sometimes taking the shape of self-utility optimisation through acts deemed as corrupt. It is argued that to any act of corruption there are two constantly present variables - motivation and opportunity, more or less conditioned by rationalisation and neutralisation. All four variables are situationally dependent and linked through a theory of self-interest utility maximisation, thus creating a theoretical framework of preventive anti-corruption policy. Most agree that prevention is more effective than a cure, both generally and for anti-corruption specifically. Yet more can arguably be done to not only strengthen the efforts but also formalise and to the extent possible, establish a theoretical framework in which this effort resides. Also as a conclusion to this paper, an elaboration on the potential of greater use of tailored situational crime prevention measures which prveiously have been largely neglected by the counter corruption community.