Why do ordinary people engage in corruption? In this talk Kelly McMann argues that bureaucrats, poverty, and culture do not propel individuals in Central Asia into illicit exchanges. Rather, corruption is a last resort when relatives, groups in society, the market, and formal government programs cannot provide essential goods and services. Using evidence from her long-term research in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, McMann shows that Islamic institutions, secular charities, entrepreneurs, and banks cannot provide the jobs and credit people need. This drives individuals to illicitly seek employment and loans from government officials. A leading cause of this resource scarcity is market reform, as demonstrated by McMann's analysis of these countries as well as of Uzbekistan and global data. Market reform without supporting institutions, such as credit registries and antimonopoly measures, limits the resources available from the market and societal groups. From this research comes a useful policy insight: supplying ordinary people with alternatives to corruption is a fundamental and important anticorruption strategy.
Kelly M. McMann is associate professor of political science and director of the International Studies Program at Case Western Reserve University. She is also the project manager for subnational government for the Varieties of Democracy Project. Her publications include the books Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia (Cornell) and Economic Autonomy and Democracy: Hybrid Regimes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan (Cambridge). Dr. McMann’s research in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, and National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, among other organizations. Dr. McMann received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2000 and conducted research at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University before working at Case.
Part of the CREES-sponsored series, Buying and Selling, States and Markets, which focuses on various aspects of economies in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. How did socialist regimes theorize money, consumption, wages, and pricing? How did markets during state socialism actually work, and what is their legacy in contemporary times? What are the social roles of commodities and economic transactions today?
Sponsors: CREES, ISP, WCED
Kelly McMann, associate professor of political science, Case Western Reserve University; research associate, CREES, U-M