The culture of corruption in public administration: a comparison between Sweden and Italy

Stiernstedt, Peter ORCID: and Testa, Alberto ORCID: (2019) The culture of corruption in public administration: a comparison between Sweden and Italy. In: 1st Conference of the Journal “Etica Pubblica. Studi su legalità e partecipazione” (Public ethics. Studies on legality and participation),, 5-6 December 2019, Perugia, Italy. (Unpublished)

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The level of corruption in nation states are often determined by perception-based indices. Some countries consistently fair well while others do not. Scandinavian countries are amongst those that historically have low levels of perceived corruption while Mediterranean countries generally produce higher levels. In Scandinavia Sweden although suffering several political scandals involving corruption at the highest level still enshrines what is globally considered an uncorrupt nation. Of the Mediterranean countries Italy suffers from a highly variable perception of corruption when comparing regions north to south. The culture of corruption thus varies within the country itself, a case in point also for Sweden with other large cultural differences between regions in the south compared to the north. Both nations, nevertheless, promotes and provides a strong state presence with roots in socialism, state control and intervention. It is intuitively clear that whatever corruption there is in public administration in these countries, it will take on different forms and expressions. Also, the management and consequences thereof would arguably vary too. This paper aims to go beyond perceptions and create an outline of the culture of corruption in public administration in Sweden and Italy. By analysing a number of contemporary scandals in each nation, comparing them and drawing out not only the differences but also the underlying similarities for better understanding of the fickle beast corruption. The paper then deepens the analysis by presenting the tentative findings to a number of policy makers in each country in a series of interviews. The result is a comparative framework for two European nations with different cultures of corruption in public administration. Overall the paper demonstrates that while different in culture the notion of Sweden as an uncorrupt nation is a fallacy – and perhaps a greater danger to the nation than often perceived.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice > Criminology
Depositing User: Peter Stiernstedt
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 14:09
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:12


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