Thoughts About Corruption

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By Patrícia Rodrigues da Rosa

Corruption has been a popular and an old issue for rich and poor countries.
Although its popularity, it may present different meanings over time and place it
arises. With regard to Brazil, it is prevailing to note distinct facts being
approached like corruption, particularly in media such as social networks or even
in people´s discourses. Consequently, this fact leads to the merge of the
following questions: Is dishonesty a synonym for corruption? Does it mean the
same in public and private spheres? Who is corrupt and when does it happen?
Along with those unanswered inquiries, it is demanding to assure judgements
concerning corruption practices has been revisited over time in the country…

The term corruption originates from Latin corruptio and it is normally
used in the sense of physical decomposition or moral degradation of something
(MICHAELIS, 2017; FERREIRA, 2008). Ancient Greek philosophers, such as
Plato and Aristotle, thought corruption following a moral perspective. However,
the political use of the word starts with Machiavelli. Since then, corruption has
been framed as a “result of rules of world politics, being connected to the
weakness of their laws and political institutions. In such wise, corruption must
be jugded beneath those rules” (SACRAMENTO; PINHO, 2009, p. 2).

Nonetheless, it is not possible to consider corruption without
contextualizing its concept in time and space, in order to provide a better
comprehension of its meaning. “Concepts capture their own boundaries and the
time course brings evident meaning changes” (SCHWARCZ, 2008, p. 227). An
action may be considered corruption in a specific part of the world, although it
may not be conceived similarly in another place. This happens due to the
economic sociology approach (GRANOVETTER, 2006). Besides that, recognition
of corruption practices may also be impacted by the point of view, knowledge
and interests of whom is appreciating the situation (AVRITZER et al., 2008). On
the other hand, these corruption practices may present different origins and
ways of perpetuation, what is interesting to investigate. Considering the public
choose, an important economic perspective (BUTLER, 2015), corruption´s origin
can rely on representatives´ self-interests. They divert the focus from public
interest to private interest, which is another manner to analyze the dilemma.

Varied research have been held, whose aims strive for comprehension of
different aspects of this topic. Souza, Silva and Gomes (2017) pursued to
answer how corruption in public administration has been debated in international
literature. They conducted a content analysis and literature systematic review
presenting 211 theoretical and empirical articles about corruption in 141
countries. Outcomes point to a growing field, counting with a diversity of
method, research techniques, qualitative and quantitative studies. The focused
themes were: reforms against corruption in the world, causes and consequences
of corruption and ways to measure it. Sacramento and Pinho (2009) described
Brazilian academic production in public administration concerning corruption
looking for dissertations, thesis and articles from 1997 to 2008, period of
increasing studies about the topic. Authors noted corruption is rarely
investigated by Brazilian public administration scholars, in opposition to
international references that predominate theoretical understanding about it.

This text is part of an essay I wrote about corruption, area in which I am
focusing my doctoral degree in public administration. There is a lot to say about
the topic – different ways to observe the theme in academic literature,
statistics, daily news, cinema, arts and literature in general. This is meaningful
to organizational studies, specially in ethics field, since it deals with a problem
which embraces public and private organizations. It downgrades organizations as
much as affects societies where these are embedded. “Operação Lava-Jato”
reafirms it everyday in Brazil, causing a mixed-effect of hopeness in a better
future or a certainty that something is going wrong in society and organizations
we built. Thus, my next texts will detail different aspects about corruption.
Follow them!


AVRITZER, Leonardo et al. Introdução. In: AVRITZER, Leonardo et al. (Org.).
Corrupção: ensaios e críticas. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 2008. p. 11-19.

BUTLER, Eamonn. Escolha pública: um guia. Belo Horizonte: Estudantes pela
Liberdade, 2015.

FERREIRA, Aurélio Buarque de Holanda. Corrupção. In: Miniaurélio: o
minidicionário da língua portuguesa. 7. ed. Curitiba: Positivo, 2008.

GRANOVETTER, Mark. A construção social da corrupção. Política & Sociedade,
n. 9, p. 11-37, out./2006.

MICHAELIS. Corrupção. In: Dicionário brasileiro da língua portuguesa. Editora
Melhoramentos, 2017. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 20 dez. 2017.

SACRAMENTO, A. R. S.; PINHO, J. A. G. de. A produção acadêmica brasileira
sobre corrupção em administração pública: um estudo no período compreendido
entre 1997-2008. In: ENCONTRO DA ANPAD, XXXIII, 2009, São Paulo. Anais
do Enanpad. São Paulo: ANPAD, 2009. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 10 nov. 2017.
SCHWARCZ, Lilia Moritz. Corrupção no Brasil Império. In: AVRITZER, Leonardo
et al. (Org.). Corrupção: ensaios e críticas. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 2008. p. 227-

SOUZA, F. J. B.; SILVA, S. A. M.; GOMES, A. O. Corrupção no setor público:
considerações a partir da literatura internacional. In: ENCONTRO DA ANPAD,
XLI, 2017, São Paulo. Anais do Enanpad. São Paulo: ANPAD, 2017. Disponível
em: . Acesso
em: 20 nov. 2017.

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