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QoG lunch seminar with Sarah Brierley

Society and economy

The QoG institute regularly organizes seminars related to research on Quality of Government, broadly defined as trustworthy, reliable, impartial, uncorrupted and competent government institutions. On this week´s QoG lunch seminar, Sarah Brierley will present. The title of the seminar is: "Manipulating Leviathan: Public Service Delivery, Corruption, and Bureaucratic Co-optation in Ghana!"

28 Oct 2020
12:00 - 13:00
Due to Covid-19, this lunch seminar takes place via zoom

Sarah Brierley, Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics, Department of Government, The London School of Economics and Political Science
The Quality of Government Institute


"Manipulating Leviathan: Public Service Delivery, Corruption, and Bureaucratic Co-optation in Ghana!" (draft book manuscript) 


There is a consensus that modern good government requires a professionalized bureaucracy in which civil servants are hired on merit and have the skills necessary to do the job. Several low- and middle-income democracies have gone a long way down this road; their bureaucrats are relatively well educated and trained to do the jobs they do. However, good governance is not always the result. In this book project, I ask why meritocratically-hired bureaucrats engage in distortive behavior to politicians' benefit. For this workshop, I present Chapters 5 and 6. In Chapter 5, I combine qualitative, observational, and experimental data from local governments in Ghana to highlight the methods through which politicians and bureaucrats manipulate public procurement and document the scale of the problem. I find evidence of widespread corruption. In Chapter 6, I explain the political logic behind the manipulation of public procurement. I argue that politicians' need to capture campaign finance – to fund both party election campaigns and politicians' ambitions to rise to the next level of political office – incentivizes corruption. Given that campaign finance drives corruption, I theorize that corruption rates will be higher in more electorally competitive districts and in districts where local politicians have ambitions to advance in the party. The data support my argument that these two factors exacerbate local corruption.