THE CASE OF UKRAINIAN CORRUPTION: PHENOMENOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INSIDES.

AuthorPolunin, Oleksiy
  1. Introduction

    In the last twenty years, the population of Ukraine has declined with approximately 20%, which equals approximately to 10 million citizens (State Statistics Service of Ukraine, 2018). Initially one of the richest Soviet republics, Ukraine now has the lowest GDP per capita among other former Soviet republics and the European countries, which equals to 2,185 USD per capita for the year 2016 (Index.minfin, 2018). As show the results of privatization (Davydov, 2006; Mendul, 2001; Nohinova, 2014; Paskhaver, Verkhovodova and Ageeva, 2006; Sirko, 2004), in the last twenty-seven years the state has transferred all of the most profitable resources into the possession of a few oligarchic families. The state continues to struggle from one revolution (2004) to another (2013-2014), it is dysfunctional and was weakened by its own oligarchy in the previous years (Chaplik, 2017) which contributed to shaping the preconditions for the implementation of Russia's aggressive intentions resulting in a military conflict in 2014. As a consequence, it has lost control over approximately 7% of the territory with well-developed industry, as well as regions rich in coal, iron ore and other minerals. The state entered a new epoch of instability signed not only by old high social tension, but by war on the eastern border, by growing Russian military and naval bases on the eastern and southern borders, and by a new wave of emigration. Ukraine faces all these developments despite high numbers of university graduates, a high amount of mineral resources, forests, rich soil, and despite an attractive geographical location. All these developments coincide with high level of corruption marking permanent ill governance throughout the last twenty-five years.

    The modern history of Ukrainian corruption is strongly related to ex-president L. Kuchma who came into power in 1994. He is perceived by some as creator of the whole system of the modern Ukrainian corruption. As corruption scores indicate, corruption in various forms characterized already the regime of L. Kuchma. Its trend reflects some temporary improvement following the Orange revolution in 2004, although there has been deterioration since 2006. The Transparency International (TI) indicators of corruption in Ukraine are presented as follows: year 2003, CPI=2.3 (106th position) (1), year 2004, CPI=2.02 (122nd position), year 2005, CPI=2.6 (107th position), year 2006, CPI=2.8 (99th position), year 2007, CPI=2.7 (118th position), year 2008, CPI=2.5 (138th position). In its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index Transparency International (TI) has ranked Ukraine 144th (out of 177 countries), and called it as the most corrupt nation in Europe.

    After the last revolution in 2013-2014 despite the democratic elections that installed a new government, corruption remains of concern. According to a Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) and Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) survey, nearly half of the respondents said they believe corruption has remained at the same level, while 32% said it has increased. According to the DIF survey (15-19.12.2017), 80% of the respondents assessed the fight against corruption as unsuccessful. The recent survey (16-22.08.2018) by the DIF and the Razumkov Centre shows that 83% of the Ukrainians assess anti-corruption measures as unsuccessful, and 50% of respondents assess it as a total disaster.

    Corruption has a devastating impact on the people of Ukraine. Lapshyna (2014) reveals robust evidence that apart from the traditional migration driver--income discrepancy between source and destination countries--corruption becomes a driver of migration aspirations. Thomas de Waal (2016) describes Ukrainian corruption as a systemic problem: 'Since the country achieved independence in 1991, the problem is not that a well-functioning state has been corrupted by certain illegal practices; rather, those corrupt practices have constituted the rules by which the state has been run. Ukraine's political system is best described as state capture'. So, since the years Ukraine is a stable member of the group of world outsiders in corruption. This is why we are going to study corruption in modern Ukraine and its peculiarities. The question we are aiming to answer is: what insures the steadiness of Ukrainian corruption and what makes it actively spread through different state institutions?

  2. Corruption as an essential component of a failed state

    Many of the factors marking a failed society (Diamond, 1999, 2005) can be found in Ukraine, e.g. an elite encapsulation or permanent short time horizon of governing elite. But we assume that extensive active corruption making state institutions dysfunctional is the key factor. This corruption is based upon: (1) active defection of governing elite as part of the social contract, and (2) upon obedience as the main pattern of behavior among simple citizens. It marks a systematic absence of resistance to illegal power application, and enables the deviant power-application. The latter is the main component of the different models of corruption.

    Corruption is a complex and multidimensional domain of human behavior, which is hard to define in a precise way. The broad body of models and different interdisciplinary approaches make it difficult to find a common denominator for corruption modelling. On the other hand, by taking a communication-dyad as the key element of a corrupt action, we hope to describe a common element of the many different models. One may find a variety of definitions in the studies on corruption within economics, law, sociology, psychology, criminology, and political science. They also present different conceptualizations of corruption. For instance, Griger (2005, p. 31) points to its linguistic origin and describes a corrupt action as 'spoil, weaken, distort, erode, undermine, bribe, ruin, destroy'. In this study we consider corruption in a wide sense as deviation from behavior set by legal norms, rules and social agreement. Such deviation is prepared, implemented, but also accessed by human mind. On the other hand, showing the role of the communicative dyad in corruption, we aim to describe the very first, initial mechanism of corruption which is present in many different concepts.

    One of the popular concepts of corruption in economics is the principal-agent theory (Banfield, 1975; Husted, 2007; Rose-Ackerman, 1978). This model describes corruption as including three actors: the principal, the agent and the client. In an organization every officer, except those in the lowest positions, can be seen both as a principal (a superior looking downwards) and as an agent (subordinate looking upwards). So, in this model one may notice the role of the power gradient within dyadic relations. The core of the principal-agent-client model lies in asymmetric information accessibility. Instead of triad, we take a communication-dyad with asymmetric power distribution. The triad mentioned in this case is to decompose in two dyads, 'principal - agent' and 'agent--client'. A similar dyad can be found as a basic element in many corruption models, but for Ukrainian corruption an active position of much powerful member of dyad is characteristic. Powerful members of the dyad actively look for possibilities, and intentionally misuse power discrepancy in their private interests against the social contract. In other words, thanks to his superiority in power he/she intentionally behaves as a defector. So, one may call it a dyadic model of coercive corruption which is based upon gradient of power within the dyad. Empirically, this must be manifested through the active involvement of the state servants in corruption and furthermore, one expects to find actively supported corrupt relations exclusively among state servants.

    The social exchange theory is applied by sociological researchers. This theory argues that social exchange involves a series of interactions that generate obligations (Emerson, 1976). Such obligations evolve over time into trusting, mutual relationships (Cropanzano and Mitchel, 2005). It explains corruption as a kind of social exchange where corrupt actors form social relations based on the benefits and costs they provide one another. This theory underlines the reciprocity of corrupt action, otherwise corrupt relationships disintegrate over time (Emerson, 1972a, 1972b; Molm, 1994; Khatri, Tsang and Begley, 2005). The question is how such reciprocity is manifested when both agents in the corruption dyad are state servants? What kind of gains unite them?

    The sociological research proposes also the anomie theory of corruption. This theory explains white-collar crimes (Zahra, Priem and Rasheed, 2005). This theory defines anomie as 'a state of normlessness or lack of regulation, or a disorderly relationship between the individual and social order' (Riahi-Belkaoui and Picur, 2000, p. 36). We assume that Ukrainian corruption is marked through: (a) active creation of normlessness, and (b) a voluntary ignorance of norms by more powerful members of the dyad. Low (2002, p. 36) believes that whether people behave corruptly depends on the degree to which they would like to achieve certain goals. The greater the individual's goals, the smaller the acceptance of norms, thus the likelihood that a person commits a crime like corruption is higher. In Ukrainian reality the greatness of goal is to interpret in relational sense, namely with consideration of officially set low incomes that often are behind living standards or even behind survival level.

    The theory of planned behavior includes the psychological aspects and is stemming from attitude-behavior research (Ajzen, 1991; Chang, 1998; Fukukawa, 2002). According to this theory, the attitude toward bribe giving is positively affected by the managers' perceived necessity of the act and negatively affected by their perceived unethicality of the act.

    As it was...

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