With the broad recognition of corruption as an impediment to the development of stable states, the discourse on anti-corruption strategies has become an important component in both, the academic debate as well as in programs of development organisations. However, reflection and evidence on the proposed positive effect of anticorruption reforms in situations of post-conflict statebuilding is lacking. This PhD project positions itself at the interconnection between research on corruption and statebuilding and contributes to shed light on the conceptual and causal connection between anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) and post-conflict statebuilding.
The aim of this PhD project is to explore the causal gap between the effectiveness of anti-corruption institutions and their effect on building stable and legitimate state institutions. The main hypothesis is that ACA impact on legitimacy of state institutions is contingent on a sustained track record of effectiveness and independence which, in turn, will be possible only if the ACA enjoys adequate political support from key constituencies. Hence, the proposed research question is twofold: First, what institutional configuration and contextual factors contribute to build effective ACAs? Second, how do ACAs contribute to build legitimacy of state institutions?
In order to answer the research question and test the hypothesis, a mixed-method approach will be applied According to the nested analysis strategy developed by Lieberman (2005), a first step is a quantitative comparative analysis with a large set of post-conflict states. It will be tested, whether in countries with anticorruption agencies the level of corruption, measured by its perception, is significantly different from countries without ACAs. Based on the results of this research, the hypotheses for the second part of the PhD will be adjusted. In this second step, the causal relation between ACAs and the effect on government legitimacy will be analysed for a small number of post-conflict states by applying an actor-centred institutionalist approach (Scharpf 1997; Cooper et. al. 2012). Adopting an actor-centred approach on institution building, the stakeholders in anti-corruption agencies will be mapped according to their interests, which are in turn determined by rational choice arguments as well as by informal norms. These actors influence the institutional setup of ACAs commensurate to their power. According to the above formulated hypothesis, the resulting ACAs with different competencies and mandates will have diverse impacts on state legitimacy.
While the comparative perspective allows to identify institutional and contextual factors that influence the effectiveness of ACAs and to estimate the influence that ACAs have on legitimacy, the mechanisms of the causal relation between ACAs and legitimacy are elaborated on the basis of in-depth case studies.