Corrupt Conduct – Transparency, Norms and Trust

  • Wouter de Regt


Democratic systems are unable to operate without the active engagement of the population. According to Robert Dahl, an ideal democracy fulfils several criteria7. Interestingly, all stress the importance of civil engagement. Elected politicians rely on active citizenship. Dahl’s interpretation makes clear why transparency is an important institutional design (Hood & Heald, 2006, p.211). It engages society in the democratic process, as accessible information gives them the opportunity to have a say. Democracy can not only be discussed as a political system, but also as a cultural space. Democratic cultures rely on certain types of behaviours which are guided by ‘positive’ norms, for example a sense of responsibility. Transparency supposedly helps endorse these norms. It has also been advocated as a way to fight against undemocratic cultures, such as corruption8. It is argued that it replaces ‘negative’ undemocratic norms with ‘positive’ ones. This chapter focuses on the question as to whether, and to what extent, transparency promotes ‘positive’ norms and trust in one country, Mozambique, which is affected by a high degree of corruption. Corruption is understood as the abuse of public office for private gain (Kolstad & Wiig, 2009, p.522). The question engages with two points of view. Dominique Bessire stipulates that transparency undermines norms and trust as it depicts individuals as calculating and opportunistic (Bessire, 2005, p.428). For her, transparency constrains individual freedoms, and is thus essentially amoral and unethical (p.430). For Ivar Kolstad and Arne Wiig (2009), transparency introduces ‘positive’ norms as it fosters cooperation and trust (p.529). It establishes a sense of responsibility and a willingness to be open.


Andvig, J.C., & Moene, K.O. (1990). How corruption may corrupt. In Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 13(1), pp.63-76.

Barr, A., & Serra, D. (2006). Culture and Corruption. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from

Bessire, D. (2005). Transparency: a two-way mirror? In International Journal of Social Economics, 32(5), pp.424-438.

Business Anti-Corruption Portal. (2011). Mozambique Country Profile: Public Anti- Corruption Initiatives. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from initiatives/

Bucuane, A. (2007). Exploring Natural Resources in Mozambique, Will it Be a Blessing or a Curse. Conference Paper 4: Ministerio da Planificacao e Desenvolvimento.

Bicchieri, C., & Muldoon, R. (2011). Social Norms. In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford: Stanford Univeristy.

Bureau of African Affairs. (2011). Background Note: Mozambique. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from

Cahora Bassa. (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from http://

Cahora-Bassa Castelfranchi, C., & Falcone, R. (2012). Social Trust: A Cognitive Approach. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from

Campbell, D. (2005). Maputo: an Africa ‘success story’ but 80 per cent still live in slums.The Guardian. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from feb/02/hearafrica05.development4

Centre for Public Integrity. (2012). About the CIP. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from⊂=about

Centro De Integridade Publica. (2012). Questions to the Centro De Integridade Publica. Interview conducted via email on the 30th April 2012, from Maastricht, the Netherlands.

CIA. (2012). The World Factbook Africa: Mozambique. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. (2012). Mozambique. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from

Europa. (2012). Democratic deficit. Retrieved June 5, 2012, from legislation_summaries/glossary/democratic_deficit_en.htm

Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books

Grobbelaar, N., & Lala, A. (2003). Managing Group Grievances and Internal Conflict: Mozambique Country Report. Retrieved April 12, 2012, from publications/2003/20030600_cru_working_paper_12.pdf

Heald, D., & Hood, C. (2006). Transparency; The Key to Better Governance? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

ISS. (2012). Mozambique: History and Politics. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from

Kolstad, I., & Wiig, A. (2009). Is Transparency the Key to Reducing Corruption in Resource-Rich Countries? In World Development, 37(3), pp.521-532.

Li, B. (2000). Equality and Democracy. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from

Mozambique High Commission. (2012). Tourism: Culture. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from

Oxfam. (2012). Mozambique-History. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from

Oxford Dictionaries. (2012). Trust. Retrieved May 23, 2012, from Oxford Dictionaries II. (2012). Suspicion. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from

Population Data. (2012). Mozambique. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from mozambique.jpg

Reporters without Borders. (2012). Press Freedom Index 2011-2012. Retrieved May 27, 2012, from,1043.html

Statoids. (2012). Provinces of Mozambique. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from

The President of the Republic. (2004). Law 6/2004 of 17 June. Mozambique: The President of the Republic.

Transparency. (2012). Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 Results. Retrieved April 27, 2012, from

Transparency International. (2012). 2010/11 Global Corruption Barometer. Retrieved May 16, 2012, from gcb/2010/in_detail

Transparency International II.(2012). Transparency International. Retrieved June 7 2012, from

Torop, P. (2011). Cultural Anthropology. Cultural Semiotics and Theories of Culture.Lecture conducted from Tartu University, Estonia.

USAID. (2005). Corruption Assessment: Mozambique Final Report. Washington: United States Agency for International Development.