We are very happy to announce that the 2020-2021 Quality of Government Best Paper Award goes to Diego Romero, PhD candidate at Duke University, for his paper “Unpacking Bribery: Petty Corruption and Favor Exchanges”.

The motivation is as follows:

The paper offers a novel theoretical account of bribe-paying which prompts a partial reassessment of how we think about petty corruption. The paper argues theoretically and demonstrates empirically that citizens who pay bribes tend to have personal connections to officials and police than do those who have not paid bribes. Eliciting bribes has previously been construed primarily as a predatory transaction initiated by officials with discretionary power over access to and efficiency in government programs, permits and entitlements.

The empirical analyses demonstrate the plausibility of this theoretical account. Using data from an original survey in Guatemala, the paper shows that individuals with kinship or friendship connections to public officials are more likely to report having paid a bribe. While research on clientelism has acknowledged the importance of social networks and organizations in patron-client transactions, this paper brings our attention to the fact that such linkages matter for bribe-paying as well. The findings suggest that paying bribes to receive privileged access or expediency is not an option equally available to all citizens inclined to use such tactics, but is instead an expression of favoritism itself.

On behalf of the committee members:

Stephen Dawson (PhD Candidate)            

Marcia Grimes (Associate Professor)

Lena Wängnerud (Professor)                                                

Georgios Xezonakis (Associate Professor)