Publication | Governance

How to Identify Widespread Corruption? New Insights from Geo-Spatial Analysis

Steven Gawthorpe and Joseph Pozsgai-Alvarez

October 29, 2023

How do we know when corruption has become widespread? Despite the rich body of literature on the problem, there are few proposed methods to conceptualize and empirically identify it within a geographic context. Using spatial analysis, this paper expands the means to identify corruption as an informal institution by examining the degree to which favoritism—in the form of preferential treatment for politically connected firms—is widespread in the Czech procurement sector. Using the conceptual guidance from literature on informal institutions, the empirical results show the prevalence throughout space, the stability over time, and the places by which preferential mechanisms coordinate widespread construction award disparities. These preferential patterns, which are not limited to one or a few individuals, exhibit characteristics that the problem is less of an exception and more of the rule.

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Steven Gawthorpe

Associate Director

Washington, DC