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Corruption in Romania: first steps towards a grounded theory of corruption - country report -


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Title: Corruption in Romania: first steps towards a grounded theory of corruption - country report -

Corruption in Romania first steps towards a
grounded theory of corruption- country report -
  • Dr Iuliana Precupetu

Objectives of the study
  • Understand perceptions towards corruption held by
    various groups which have important roles in
    targeting corruption politics, media, civil
    society, economy, judiciary and police
  • Reconstruct the argumentative patterns in regard
    to corruption based on documents elaborated by
    each group
  • generate a substantive-level theory of
  • Highlight content (definitions, characteristics)
    of the core category of the study corruption
  • Explore the causal conditions that influence the
  • Identify the actions or interactions that result
    from the central phenomenon
  • Delineate the consequences of the phenomenon

  • Grounded theory
  • The assumption of the empirical approach is that
    the bottom-up definitions included within
    everyday theories of corruption are contained
    in social patterns of perception that actors
    apply in their actions.
  • Consequently, they should be reconstructed from
    administrative and other official documents and
    statements of the target groups.

  • Case study as a research strategy
  • The case study was used as an inductive tool, in
    the attempt to shed light on the specificity of
    phenomenon and gain in depth understanding of
    aspects of corruption.
  • Selection of case studies theoretical sampling.
  • Three instances of corruption have been analysed
  • Case study 1
  • High level corruption Overlapping economic and
    political interests.
  • Case study 2
  • Corruption typical for a transition country The
    process of privatisation using public positions
    against public interests.
  • Party funding

Data collection
  • Documents from the target groups field of
    activity related to corruption were collected.
  • The general logic that guided selection of
    material was to start with case studies and try
    to identify position of each group on the
    respective case. When this was not possible, the
    analysis was completed with investigating general
    material on corruption.
  • Constant comparative method of data analysis
  • Data collection in a grounded theory study is a
    zigzag process out to the field to gather
    information, analyse the data, back to the field
    to gather more information, compare it to the
    emerging categories and so forth.
  • The data sources have been theoretically chosen -
    in theoretical sampling. The process stopped when
    categories became saturated, and no information
    could be added.

Material analysed
  • Target group Politics transcripts of
    parliamentary debates from the Parliament, party
    programs, declarations of politicians.
  • Target group Law prosecutors investigation
    reports from the National Anticorruption
    Directorate in case 1, case 2 and verdict by the
    Bucharest Court of Appeal on case 1, the report
    of the Court of Accounts and verdicts by the
    Bucharest Court of Appeal on party funding. Press
    releases by the National Anticorruption
    Directorate, transcripts of interviews by the
    current Minister of Justice, the national
    strategy on corruption. Background documents were
    constituted by legislation in the field of
  • Target group Police material on corruption
    elaborated by the Ministry of Administration and
    Interior was included in analysis by taking into
    consideration references to Police and their
    personnel anticorruption strategy, reports, code
    of conduct, etc.
  • Target group Media articles in newspapers and
    weekly magazines.
  • Target group Civil Society manifesto, press
    releases, transcripts of interviews, appeals
    issued by the Coalition for a Clean Parliament
    and its continuation, Coalition for a Clean
    Governance during 2004, when the first coalition
    was set up, to the present.
  • Target group Economy transcripts of seminars on
    the topic of corruption, press releases, content
    of web sites expressing the position towards
    corruption, protocols with other institutions
    stating common approach to corruption and setting
    up joint activities, minutes of meetings,
    anticorruption plans, codes of conduct.

Qualitative content analysis
  • Empirical, methodological controlled analysis of
    texts within their context of communication,
    following content analytical rules and step by
    step models, without rash quantification
    (Mayring, 2000).
  • The procedure of open coding was employed.
  • The categories were developed inductively.
  • The chosen unit of analysis was the theme.
  • Data analysis for each case involved generating
    concepts through the process of coding which
    represents the operations by which data were
    broken down, conceptualised, and put back
    together in new ways (Strauss and Corbin, 1990).
  • Material was analysed by using computerised
    analysis software, Atlas-ti.

Quality of material and difficulties
  • The heterogeneity of material analysed.
  • The rapid change of situation in regard to
    anticorruption efforts in Romania.
  • Official documents analysed (like those of
    Ministry of Interior, or by business groups) were
    issued in the general framework of Romanias
    aligning its policies to international efforts
    especially in regard to European integration.
  • As a result, it is difficult to assess what would
    represent national cultural specificity. Perhaps
    international comparative perspective can shed
    light on cultural aspects.

Generating theory
Content Definitions Characteristics/mechanism
Fight against corruption
Content of the core category definitions
2. METAPHORS The octopus The dirty
affair The sickness Thick fabric no one can
tear The national sport

1. CONVENTIONAL/LEGAL Illegal conduct Altered
3. MORAL GROUNDS/VALUES Breach in basic social
values Double standards Interventions Bargaining

Content of the core category characteristics/mech
SPREAD The all-encompassing corruption
LOGIC Complex mechanism The subjective agreement
The local barons The snowball effect Trivial
Content of the core category characteristics/mech
  • Perceptions on corruption turn into a mechanism
    that maintains the phenomenon.
  • The bribe was offered by the foreign company
    interested in privatisation of JIMTIM because
    they perceived this request as a normal instance
    in Romania
  • The Italians told me they knew they had to pay
    spaga in order to buy such companies. Italians
    had the representation that in Romania is
    customary to give spaga in such situations and
    I think they knew about these procedures from one
    of their friends () from whom they found out
    about the principle of spaga in Romania
    (Prosecutors investigation file, witness
    declaration, p4).

Causes of corruption
Systemic causes
  • Inadequate structure
  • Deficient economic policy
  • Poor economic environment
  • Short term contextual factors

Systemic causes
  • Incomplete reform
  • Imperfect fiscal system
  • Need for regulation
  • Low capacity of judicial system

Systemic causes
  • Strenuous reform
  • Formal social dialogue
  • Electoral system
  • Deficient structure and functioning
  • Low quality of human resources

Systemic causes
  • Stage of social development
  • Groups of interests
  • Flawed functioning of institutions
  • Limited press freedom
  • Disturbed basic relationships
  • Networks
  • Socialisation
  • Negative social capital

Case study 1 Overlapping political and economic
Ministry of Justice
Bucharest Court
closed personal relations
councilor in GS of RG
good relations
sponsor of the party in power
friend of major stockholder of SCRVA
major stockholder in two firms of juridical
business relations with NB
Systemic causes
  • Cultural and historical heritage of Ottoman
  • Our soul was perverted since Fanar on

Individual causes
  • Human nature
  • Impaired relationship of citizens to society
  • Rent seeking behaviour
  • Mentality

Fight against corruption
  • Assessments of current fight
  • The supreme necessity
  • Façade fight
  • Institutional zigzag

What is the relationship of theory to reality
and truth?
  • The substantive-level theory of corruption is an
    interpretation made from given perspectives
    researched by researchers
  • Its nature allows for endless elaboration and
    partial negation.
  • The theory is limited in time. Change at any
    level of the conditional matrix will affect the
    validity of theory and its relation to
    contemporary reality.
  • Conceptualising is an intellectual process that
    extends throughout the entire course of a given
    research project (Strauss and Corbin, 1990)