Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. James Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Gunther M. Hega

Third Advisor

Dr. Sybil D. Rhodes

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Rasma Karklins


This dissertation explores the interaction between formal institutions and the informal institution of corruption in Romania from 1997 until 2006. I argue that corruption is an informal institution that creates incentives incompatible with the formal rules, alters the effectiveness of formal institutions, undermines the rule of law, and threatens democratic consolidation. Specifically, I test the capacity of formal institutions to counteract the informal institution of corruption and thus to reduce corruption in four sectors: the judiciary, customs, health care, and public procurement. The research project investigates the methods to restructure incentives and increase the effectiveness of formal institutions, the factors that influence the success or failure of anticorruption strategies, and the capacity of anticorruption strategies to restructure incentives. An institutional analysis of corruption contributes to our understanding of when and why anti-corruption programs fail or succeed.

This study employs a mixed methodology. The predominant methodology is qualitative, whereas quantitative analyses are integrated whenever appropriated (e.g., testing for statistically significance relationships between variables or estimating kappa coefficient for multiple raters). The longitudinal analysis of the four sectors in Romania uses the "most similar with different outcomes" research design.

The dissertation shows that, particularly after 2000, there were clear indications of political will manifested through comprehensive diagnoses of corruption, the intermittent inclusion of the main stakeholders in the policy-making process, the adoption of anticorruption strategies, and the creation of more transparent monitoring systems at the national and sectoral level. Moreover, one factor stood out in explaining the presence or absence of political will, namely the external pressure exercised by the EU, which was a constant factor in explaining the instances of political will and in supporting the anticorruption leaders if and when they appeared. The public opinion pressure was shown to be insufficient by itself to stimulate political will and to lead to the adoption of anticorruption reforms, particularly outside the election years. Overall, the largest progress in combating corruption and increasing the effectiveness of formal institutions was registered in the judiciary, followed by customs, and public procurement, whereas the least progress was made in the health care sector.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access