Measuring As a consequence of this, any attempt to

Measuring Corruption: Exploring the
Iceberg

 

Corruption is a complex social,
political and economic phenomenon that is prevalent in most societies, each to
a varying degree. Despite its prevalence, there is a limited consensus on what
conceptual frameworks and theories define corruption. As a consequence of this,
any attempt to measure corruption is a complex and much disputed endeavour.

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Regardless, ‘Measuring Corruption: Exploring the Iceberg’ embarks on this
venture, and views corruption through the incorporation of it into broader
theories of ethics and integrity. It also investigates measurement practices by
describing different types of research they have conducted, such that to help
ascertain which of these reflect the true nature and extent of corruption.

 

 

Hubert and colleagues worked to develop
a broad typology of integrity violations, whereby corruption was a specific
counterpart, as opposed to the traditional use of an ‘umbrella’ concept of
corruption. This allows their findings on prevalence and the extent of
corruption to be able to be put into perspective.

 

Hubert et al. also conducted what is
referred to as a corruption reputation
research. These surveys measured the corruption reputation of the
Netherlands where respondents were asked to estimate the amount of corruption
in their environment in their country. The results offered a clear and stable
picture that the country is viewed one of the least corrupt in the world. With
experts backing up this claim via panel surveys, a level of reliability for the
research was also assured. However, it is prudent to consider that the
stability of the estimations from experts might pose a risk for the validity of
the research. As a reputation involves more general perceptions rather than
particular experiences, and it is these known or felt reputations that trickle
into reputation research. Hence, these outcomes are questionable when viewed as
accurate estimations of the actual level of the corruption problem.

 

 

Hubert et al., also includes the methodology
and results of their research into internal corruption in (local) governmental organizations
in the Netherlands. In particular, through the examination and investigation of
criminal cases and internal investigations. The image formulated by this research
is that the structure of the ‘top of the corruption iceberg’ has a limited
number of criminal cases and convictions each year (20–50 cases, 6–17
convictions). This body of research strengthens the image that cases of
corruption in the Netherlands were scarce in number. However, it is valuable to
realize that Huberts and his colleagues only considered data that provides
information about the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of cases being discovered, investigated
and prosecuted.

Self-reports of individual behaviour
also serve as a promising method to helping shape a clearer picture on the
extent of corruption with a given society. Hubert and colleagues employ this
method into their research with two primary foci: self-reports of victimisation
and individual sensitive and/or deviant behaviour. It is victimisation research
that allows the capture of data on persons who may have unwillingly come to
face with corruption and may not be suited to uncover the individuals involved.

However, it is evident that self- reports in regards to corruption research are
only valuable if they are unbiased. Moreover, it is a natural tendency for
corrupters and their victims to try and hide their behaviour and therefore the
employment of self-reports helps to break down such barriers.