From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

CORRUPTION – in political science terms it is defined as any failure to fulfil obligations resulting from holding a position, function or office if the purpose of this failure is to achieve undue personal gain. It is a testimony to the irregularities in the management of public administration, and in the broader context – of state institutions. The problem of c. historically and contemporarily refers primarily to persons holding public functions – officials, public officials, employees of the public sphere. In the literature we encounter many definitions of corruption – according to Susan Rose-Ackerman, it is a violation of certain rules of the social system of division of goods, for compliance with which – at various levels – one is responsible. C. according to Jeremy Pope, is primarily a misuse of public authority for material gain. These can be all kinds of benefits, from purely monetary nature, through gifts, workplace, other types of services or goods. All of these goods/benefits can be awarded directly or in the future, and can relate to a single person as well as his or her family, clientele or party. In ancient Egypt or Babylon, the acts of c. were made mainly by the judges; in Rome, the governors of the province, the tax and duty collectors, the tenants of the state mines, the owners of the manufactories, and others succumbed to it. In Greece, acts of c. appear with the fall of democracy. The first evidence of the existence of bribery is a document from Assyria dating back nearly 5400 years. About 2000 years ago, the minister of the Indian king Kautiliya wrote the first text on this subject – Arthaśastra treatise. In Poland, the oldest record of c. can be found in the chronicles of Gallo Anonymous. The problem of c. broke out when it became a political issue. As long as there was no conflict, one remained silent on many cases, when the dispute broke out, these cases were brought to light. Many philosophers and outstanding historical figures dealt with the phenomenon of c. The researcher Jacob van Klaveren sees an alternative in the early modern epoch: the sale of offices or c. He found that where the state did not sell offices there was c. His thought should be understood as follows: the authority can legitimize a phenomenon that would otherwise be a crime. If the state, as Max Weber asserted, is an institution monopolising the right to violence, it also has the power to confer legitimacy or criminality on acts and institutions. In addition, the whole society does not have to share the conviction of the ruling group. One of the manifestations of the political c. is the phenomenon of patronage (political spoils), that is taking up official positions to obtain funds for the needs of one’s own political party. These are posts in public administration and public finances transferred to the political party through various foundations, associations, research institutes (or at least those with such names), social-welfare and loans offices and commercial law firms. States with high levels of politicization of public services are more prone to c. and are exposed to the loss of specialist staff and continuity of the so-called institutional memory than the states in which there is an independent, apolitical, stable public administration. In discussion on the prevention of c., two views clash: the first is that one must prosecute and severely punish those who commit c., and the other is that such measures should be introduced that would minimize all factors causing the phenomenon of c. [ J. Itrich-Drabarek ].

Literature: J. Itrich-Drabarek, Uwarunkowania, standardy i kierunki zmian służby cywilnej w Polsce na tle europejskim [Conditions, standards and directions of changes in the civil service in Poland against the European background], Warszawa 2010 ■ A. Mączak, Rządzący i rządzeni [The governing and the governed], Warszawa 1986 ■ S. Rose-Ackerman, Korupcja i rządy [Corruption and governments], Warszawa 2001.