Review: Anti-corruption: Webster’s Timeline History, 1954 – 2007

4 Star, Corruption, History
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Adequate but disappointing, May 3, 2010

I was greatly looking forward to this volume reaching me, and must confess to being disappointed. It is an adequate beginning, nothing more. Here is the page count for the time span covered:

1954-1999 10 pages
2000 03 pages
2001 05 pages
2002 08 pages
2003 09 pages
2004 12 pages
2005 16 pages
2006 26 pages
2007 22 pages

The index is useful, but after a couple of hours going through the book I thought to myself this should never have been a book, it should have been an online spreadsheet that could be sorted by country, issue area (agriculture, industry type, water), and timeframe. It complements what Transparency International does with its Corruption Perceptions Index, but on balance this is a very elementary start.

I found it most interesting that the earliest references to anti-corruption efforts were in India and Pakistan and then Indonesia, that this is primarily an English-language survey (e.g. not covering the extensive Chinese anti-corruption endeavors over quite a long time), and that the final two years are largely news hits that could be better explored with structured online searching.

The first conference on corruption and anti-corruption that is noted started in 1987. Today there are multiple conferences including those managed by Transparency International and those managed by law firms seeking to help clients comply with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other similar legislation.

What the book does not provide, and I for one would welcome a re-issuance–is any kind of analytic synthesis, region by region review, type by type review (e.g. corruption in the water cycle should be huge today and is not, yet) that also includes a “best practices” and “lessons learned” compendium of structured knowledge. I will be reviewing other books on anti-corruption (those that are priced fairly) and am creating a new section at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, to focus exclusively on corruption and anti-corruption books and references and links.

Here is what we need: a global online database that leverages what UNICEF is doing with RapidSMS, that does two things:

1) Provides an online repository for all documents in all languages pertaining to corruption and anti-corruption, sorted in relation to the ten High Level Threats to Humanity as identified by A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change; and also by each of the twelve core policies from agriculture to water as identified by the Earth Intelligence Network in INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty, in turn sorted by country, province, and postal district.

2) Provides an online repository with a back office database for RapidSMS reporting from any cell phone on the planet to LOCAL web receiving sites that in turn compile the global to local database of corruption reports from citizens as witnessed, in text form, photo form, or video form.

The good news is that anti-corruption is here to stay, and the business world and governments are finally figuring out that a 20% surtax for corruption is bad for business, bad for the economy, and bad for citizens. In this the UN has done well, along with the US Agency for International Development and a number of organizations from Malaysia to many points in Africa including South Africa.

See also:
Corruption and Anti-Corruption: An Applied Philosophical Approach (Basic Ethics in Action)
Corruption and Development: The Anti-Corruption Campaigns (Palgrave Studies in Development)
Specialised Anti-Corruption Institutions: Review of Models

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