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Friday, November 16, 2007

Samuel Huntington on corruption

MBA applicants applying at American universities are sometimes asked if they would use bribes to get things done. They are advised to answer in the negative. Here is the "bright" side of corruption, as explained in Samuel Huntington's Political Order in Changing Societies:

Corruption may be one way of surmounting traditional laws or bureaucratic regulations which hamper economic expansion. In the United States during the 1870s and 1880s corruption of state legislatures and city councils by railroad, utility, and industrial corporations undoubtedly speeded the growth of the American economy. . . In somewhat similar fashion, during the Kubitschek era in Brazil a high rate of economic development apparently corresponded with a high rate of parliamentary corruption, as industrializing entrepreneurs bought protection and assistance from conservative rural legislatures. It has even been suggested that one result of governmental efforts to reduce corruption in societies such as Egypt is to produce additional obstacles to economic development. In terms of economic growth, the only thing worse than a society with a rigid, overcentralized, dishonest bureaucracy is one with a rigid, overcentralized, honest bureaucracy.

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