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IS ALL CORRUPTION DYSFUNCTIONAL? PERCEPTIONS OF CORRUPTION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Authors


Correspondence to: G. W. Walton, c/- 1 Queen Street, Coburg, Victoria 3058, Australia. E-mail: walton.grant@gmail.com

SUMMARY

Many anti-corruption organisations work from the notion that both petty and grand corruption axiomatically results in negative consequences. However, few studies have asked citizens to evaluate the effects of different scales and types of corruption. This article investigates how rural people in Papua New Guinea associate dysfunctional or functional consequences to different types and scales of corruption. It draws on findings from focus groups conducted in four provinces of the country. The article finds that most examples of corruption considered by respondents were perceived as dysfunctional; however, marginalised respondents considered small-scale corruption as functional—if the acts described benefitted marginalised people. These findings suggest that it is critical that anti-corruption organisations understand and respond to the constraints faced by poor and marginalised people when operating in weak states. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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