Subproject 4 

Corruption in the contemporary world of global good governance (1990s-2010s)

evaluates the impact of contemporary supra-and transnational corruption understandings, in relation to good governance norm-setting. Again, it takes the Dutch-Indonesian relationship, including their mutual influence, as a case in point, by analysing debates on corruption in the Netherlands and Indonesia in relation to activities of the NGO Transparency International (TI). TI was founded by former World Bank director Peter Eigen in 1993, with headquarters in Berlin. Local chapters in the Netherlands and Indonesia were founded as well. TI activities include organising expert meetings, offering advice and trainings to policymakers, lawyers and businesses, being involved in academic research and good governance projects, and informing the wider public about corruption. TI is most famous for its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI), first published in 1995, which ranks countries from least to most corrupt. Over time, other activities have been executed (e.g. Global Corruption Barometer and Global Corruption Reports). The CPI has ranked the Netherlands structurally among the top-15 best performing countries, and Indonesia structurally from 100 or lower. TI’s Global Corruption Report of 2004, ranked Indonesia’s former president Suharto at the top of its corruption ranking for embezzling 15-35 billion dollars; the example showed (for TI) how corruption ‘undermines the hopes (…) of developing countries’, (BBC News, 2004). No (former) Dutch officials were ranked. TI has received credit for raising global awareness of corruption, but its activities have also been criticised, especially the CPI. Researchers have argued that rankings are unreliable because they are based on perceptions that contribute to stereotyping, having an impact on foreign investments (Andersson & Heywood, 2009). Rankings also suggest solutions through technicalisation and depoliticisation, as they hide the normative judgements upon which they are based (Cooley & Snyder, 2015). The broader change in which this research is embedded is the emergence of a global good governance order following the Cold War, promoting universal norm-setting (Johnston, 2006; Bevir, 2012; Kroeze, 2016). Therefore, the project includes analysing changes such as the adoption of the UN Convention against Corruption in 2002, as well the emergence of the ‘Washington-consensus’, which promoted global economic liberalisation to curb corruption. This model had a huge impact on policymaking, but has also been criticised as being too simplistic (Krastev, 2003; Johnston, 2006). We ask: What are the historical dynamics behind these contemporary indices? What is the performative function of such representations of corruption? How did the Netherlands and Indonesia respond to these rankings? Do these rankings indeed play the role of expert judges over performances of states? How have actors, including TI, responded to criticism? Sources that are studied include: archival material of TI, policy papers, media coverage and reports underlying rankings; representations of rankings in the media; interviews with those who have been involved in TI-related projects, embedded within the rise of UN/global standards.