Turning a Blind Eye to Bribery: Explaining Failures to Comply with the International Anti-corruption Regime
This article questions rationalist and constructivist expectations that democracies are conditioned to comply with international rules prohibiting foreign bribery. It employs process-tracing case studies to addresses challenges of endogeneity and selection effects that have resulted in an overstated picture of compliance with international agreements. Successive British and Australian governments have demonstrated a pattern of wilful blindness toward major violations of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. These enforcement failures reflect a disinclination to comply - not a lack of ability. Previously, constructivist scholars have overstated the power of moral suasion, and rationalists have failed to fully appreciate the incentives for democratic governments to ignore corrupt conduct, relative to the politically expedient priorities of being seen to promote and protect jobs and export earnings, and minimize adverse media coverage. The article thus contests the conventional wisdom concerning the anti-corruption successes of developed democracies. More generally, it cautions against excessively optimistic conclusions on compliance with international agreements.
Political Science not elsewhere classified