Even though corruption is not mankind's most critical dilemma, we should not neglect it, nor underestimate its negative potential. The paper argues that by eliminating this phenomenon, we automatically solve many other problems that are its derivatives, thus the wellbeing of our society can be improved in a single move.
The essay attempts to define corruption, in order to make an important highlight - the nature of corruption is inherently complex, due to the psychological and the social factors behind it. If the problem is not understood in its finest detail, incorrect solutions might be applied, which will aggravate the situation.
The essay explains the causes and the effects of corruption, by breaking it into smaller parts. Corruption is regarded as a simple economic problem, which focuses on the relationship between supply and demand on a free market (it can also be viewed as a client-server software model that deals with requests and responses that occur between two connected elements).
The paper appeals to a broad audience, promoting solutions that place a great emphasis on individual efforts and self-improvement. However, it also acknowledges that this method can be inefficient if used alone. That is why other answers are proposed as well, they will be of great interest to managers, team leaders, and other persons who make long-term decisions that affect an entire organization or a large group of people.
Their goal is to eliminate the potential harm that can be done by an employee, without limiting the possibilities of their career or hindering the productivity of the enterprise. These solutions can be implemented as corporate policies, having the potential to enter the list of best practices in the management of human resources. These alternative solutions should be used along with the individual ones, resulting in a better net effect.
The essay focuses on academic corruption, but it also explains that the proposed solutions are universal, and that they can be successfully implemented in any realm, being able to withstand corruption of other types.
Finally, the components that were highlighted during the analysis of the problem were graphically represented in a chart. The chart can be used as one's pocket reference to defeating corruption, offering a bird's eye view on the problem, its essence, its components, as well as its solutions.
What I learned over the years is that in order to stop a negative behavior, all is needed is to raise the cost of doing that behavior. When my cousin ate nothing but junk food, his parents told him he would have to pay for his own doctor bills. He suddenly started eating healthy and even exercising.
Want to descourage smoking? Make the ciggarettes $15/pack and I am sure there will be a lot of people trying to quit the next day.
Right now, if a person in Moldova is caught taking bribes, the punishment is nothing more than a slap on the hand. If a law would be passed putting anyone involved in corruption in jail for a half a century, then the corruption might go down, because “potential corruptors” will be rethinking their costs vs. benefits of doing something illegal.
Of course, this would only work if this kind of law would itself survive corruption.
Point taken, but I am afraid I have to say that this approach is not efficient against all types of corruption. If you take a look at the chart above, you’ll see that there are several prerequisites.
The method of ‘making things more expensive’ (in terms of punishment) does not remove the ’supply of’, nor it decreases the ‘demand for’ corruption. It simply narrows down the set of ‘favorable circumstances’ to a smaller set, but the problem is still there.
As a consequence, less people will be able to afford corruption, but the ‘elite’ (i.e. the really bad guys) will still find their way.
Also, corruption will rely on smart clerks who are able to calculate their strategy well enough to avoid getting caught.
Eventually people will find loopholes in the system and lower the threshold, making corruption more accessible to the masses again.
Some readers think that the proposed solutions tend to be utopic, hence it is unlikely they will ever be implemented. This is due to the fact that they rely on self-improvement. No self-improvement - no solutions. There are several arguments against that. First of all, not all solutions are individual-based; some of them are about making corruption impossible by limiting one’s set of privileges (see the points about user rights management below). Second - I managed to apply all those ideas myself; which means two things: 1- it is possible, 2- they sort of work (when I’m going to be very old, I’ll tell you more about their efficiency). Even if not every human being will be able to change themselves, it is important (and more likely) that group-leaders succeed in doing this. A person with no power in taking decisions has a small impact on trends, while someone “at the top of the hierarchy” has a far greater potential - they should become primary targets.
The final argument is that it is possible to play with the minds of the people - that’s what the media does, that’s what the church does, and so on. If they can do it, why can’t we?
There are other things that have to be said. The essay tries to provide a general description of what has to be implemented, not how it should be implemented. Some paragraphs come with basic solutions, the purpose of which is to give the reader a better idea of what’s going on.
Think of it as an algorithm which is described mathematically, and comes with reference implementations in several programming languages. A reference implementation is not the most efficient one, instead it is one that contains a lot of embedded comments and is easy to read. After studying the reference design, you are free to re-implmenent the algorithm in whatever language you think is appropriate, applying any optimizations you deem necessary.
Again, I have to emphasize that the essay is not about how we achieve that what we need? it is about what we need.
You can argue that it is pointless to write an essay that doesn’t answer the question “how?". But this is not correct, at least not in my opinion. You cannot start implementing a system before clearly defining the objectives, the structure and the means you will use. If you start implementing without outlining everything in your mind first, the resulting system will be unreliable, a pain in the ass to maintain an update; a set of kludges that shouldn’t have worked in the first place.
Before I handle each comment, I have to say one more thing - it is an essay, not a research paper.
A trip to Mars is indeed the 999th problem in the to-do list, but it depends on whose todo-list is being examined. As a technology-oriented person, I follow most of the space-related events that occur. One of today’s trends is NASA’s reorientation towards Mars. They made it a priority, even though there are more important things at the moment, things that will have a quicker and a greater ROI (return of investment). Many feel uneasy about this, so a person who mostly deals with technological issues will dedicate more time to cosmos; that’s the origin of “Mars is a big deal". Finally, when I started writing the essay, I also began reading Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson; the book was chosen after researching a lot of things about the current trends in space exploration. Since my head was filled with Mars-related things at that time, I guess I have the right to be biased (this applies to global warming as well).
It depends on backgrounds; for instance, an economist does not care about Mars and the climate as much as I do; on the other hand, I am not interested in what happens with ACME’s index on NASDAQ and I don’t care that IBEX fell down five points. It’s just that people with a different educational backgrounds see problems in their own way.
Why do I say that “corruption” will not make it into the top five? It depends on how todo-lists are created and managed. Corruption is an abstract thing, while my todo-lists are made of entries that can be mapped to actions or things that have instances in the real world (ex: buy a 400 GB HDD, read “Red Mars"). Corruption is a component of a list entry, but not an entry on its own; for instance “increase Moldova’s GDP by 4%” would be split into multiple sub-problems, one of which would be “minimize corruption by doing X".
A list entry called “defeat corruption” does not make sense, unless it is divided into multiple steps that can be mapped to real-world actions.
The definition of corruption proposed by me is not complete, it focuses on incompetence, while it ignores other causes such as “being forced by somebody else” or “having no other choice because of poverty”. All the points that were omitted were mentioned further in the essay, they were also placed on the mind-map. It is important not to forget that the essay must be handled as one piece; it is obvious that if you take a single paragraph out and forget the other ones - something will be missing (and maybe I am trying to trick the reader into seeing things my way?).
One interesting argument against the definition is “even an angel will take bribes if the salary doesn’t cover the basic needs". The idea is that an angel is a very competent person, nevertheless they’re still going to take bribes.
This is true if you apply this to the current schema. However, this is not true if you change the rules of the game. I will use an analogy from the world of computing, namely - user rights management. Imagine that you want to install a new program on your Fedora Linux box. Fire up the console and type “yum install ACME” - you will be asked to enter the root password; if you don’t know it - you cannot install the program.
Windows systems tend to be error prone, because the software for this platform was poorly designed, making it impractical to use a computer if you’re not an administrator. That’s why Windows boxes get compromised easily - every user has administrator rights.
Why does it not happen in Linux? Because the user is “physically” unable to perform an action unless they possess the privilege to do so. Back to humans - we live in a world which seems to be a “everyone is an administrator” world, that’s why a pawn in the system can do a lot of damage. The right thing to do is to offer only as much power as one needs to do their job. If this cannot be done, the system is defective by design.
If you run a company where the secretary can accidentally unplug the main server from the power socket, you get what you deserve. If you run a university where a teacher can screw the whole system up because they can manipulate students without getting caught - the problem will happen, it is just a matter of time.
I know that this sounds weird, but hey - it is just an analogy; humans are not programs, life is not a computer. However, if you take your time to think about it, you’ll understand that this actually works. Think about the military, where every action is a consequence of one’s order; where orders cannot be given by J. Random; where there is a strict separation of privileges. The policies are there, and they are effective.
A similar trend can be spotted in other branches. After what happened to WorldCom, Arthur Andersen… and what was that other name… the oil company… Ah.. Anyway, when it became clear that a company can manipulate the market that easily, even after being audited, new measures had to be implemented. That’s why we have SoX (Sarbanes-Oxley) in the USA, and the likes such as Basel in Europe. From the technical point of view, these policies mandate practices such as logging data transfers, backing up files at regular intervals, defining access credentials, implementing reliable user authentication mechanisms and so on. If these are properly enforced, potential mistakes are revealed with ease, and if a problem occurs - detecting the people responsible for it becomes a trivial task.
This is why I am sure that proper management of access rights is a good mechanism.
At one point the essay mentions the concept of monoculture, with which you may not be familiar. Monoculture can relate to many things, such as crops in agriculture, or types of computer systems. The term also applies to social groups. For instance, isolated tribes that are not exposed to external factors cannot develop immunity against diseases they haven’t contacted. If a new virus enters their territory, it has the potential to wipe out every single person from the tribe. This is what lack of diversity can lead to.
The essay emphasizes that diversity is one of the key-features of our world, therefore different anti-corruption mechanisms should be used in different areas (i.e. different geographical areas will need their own implementations of the reference design). If we try to simplify the problem by making all people the same - there is a risk that human civilization will become vulnerable to a broad range of threats.
- …Salaries must be paid on time and they should match the amount of work done by the employee.
What if the work is of a poor quality and the employees deserve the low salaries they get?
I saw this one coming. The answer is this should not have happened in the first place. An employer will not hire people who don’t meet their requirements, if they do - then they get what they deserve.
One should not try to get a job they know they cannot handle. If they need money, let them get a job they are good at. If they are bad at well-paid jobs, they should have “read books” when it was the time to read books. Of course, some don’t have the chance to read books because the government does a poor job offering similar chances to all of us. Nevertheless, my guesstimate is that not being able to find a job is often the consequence of not looking for one well enough.
This reminds me of a version of “how many X does it take to screw in a light-bulb?", where X is a type of economist that states that on a self-regulating market competition settles things down; a problem that arises will be solved “by itself” while the market evolves. So, how many of these economists does it take to screw in a light-bulb? None, the bulb will screw itself in when the time comes ;-)
Note - figuring out how to provide jobs for everyone is beyond the scope of this essay, a separate research is needed for that. The things above were taken off the top of my head; if you’re serious about continuing this debate, preparations are needed.
- What about the Dilbert principle? The essay explaints it in a couple of lines, but if you want more details on it, Wikipedia’s article is a good starting point.
…Do NOT attempt to resolve the problem by applying new surveillance technology and monitoring personnel. This method has multiple drawbacks.
Yes, sometimes this can be a good idea, but it has nothing to do with supply or demand. Corruption will happen elsewhere: either before the exam - when some will get hold of the test’s exercises and solve them beforehand, or after - substitute the original work with an improved one, or simply ‘pay them to death’ until they allow you to apply updates to your paper; etc.
There are instances when this is a good idea, ex: state exams, BAC.
- About the mindmap - “sorry, it is unreadable”.Here’s one from another reader “Схема та что в конце супер- доступная и очень четко изложила суть”. It is a personal thing, different people use different data structures to organize their thoughts.
Poti sa-mi spui cu ce soft ai facut imaginea din acest post? Merci mult.
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