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   3REVIJA ZA SOCIOLOGIJU 40[39] (2009), 1-2: 3–22 ISSN 0350-154X UDK: 316.654-057.4:343.352](497.5)316.664:434.352](497.5)316.75343.352(497.5)Izvorni znanstveni radPrimljeno: 20. 1. 2009. Combating Corruption in Croatia: From Expert Perceptions to Policy-Oriented Action Strategies and Back * Ognjen ČALDAROVIĆ, Aleksandar ŠTULHOFER, Krešimir KUFRIN, Bojan GLAVAŠEVIĆ  Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb Iva ODAK  Institute for Social Research, Zagreb Margareta GREGUROVIĆ  Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb Martina DETELIĆ  Kapital Network, Zagreb In this paper a comparative analysis of various perceptions of corruption in Croatia is presented. The investigation is based on the research results obtained within the FP6 project “Crime as Culture”, started in 2006, which focused on the perception of corruption in seven European countries. The grounded theory method was used to organize and interpret data collected in interviews with experts from six target groups. The aim of this paper is to provide some poli-cy-oriented insights based on a synthesis of the project findings. The paper is divided into four sections focusing on the major dimensions of combat against corruption: (1) research on corruption, (2) sanctioning corruption, (3) corrup-tion prevention, and (4) increasing anti-corruption awareness. As our analyses suggest, the social embeddedness of corruption in Croatia is well reflected in the dominant expert perceptions of corruption. The observed heterogeneity and fragmentariness of the existing (and often competing) perceptions of corruption found in this study are potential obstacles to a systematic, well-coordinated, and efficacious anti-corruption strategy.  Key words:  corruption, perception of corruption, experts’ opinions, social em- beddedness of corruption, Croatia * Corresponding author: Ognjen Čaldarović, Dept. of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, I. Lučića 3, 10000 Zagreb,  Ognjen Čaldarović et al.: Combating Corruption in Croatia, Revija za sociologiju 40[39] (2009), 1-2: 3–22 4 Introduction The research on corruption has had some history in Croatia (Budak, 2006), especially since 1990 when the post-communist transition started. It suggests that there is a widespread public belief that corruption can be found almost everywhere in the society – from the top, to the bottom. Fragmentary research data and anecdotal evidence also suggest that the tolerance towards petty or low-level corruption (“favour for favour”, “service for service”, the habit of handing out small gifts to public servants, etc.) is much higher than towards high-level corruption, which has recently been tackled by the State Office for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (Kufrin et al., 2008).The FP6 project “Crime as Culture”, focused on the perception of cor-ruption in seven European countries (including Croatia), started in 2006. It has been coordinated by a Consortium of several research institutions and consists of three distinct phases. In the first, research methodology was de-veloped and applied to materials related to two chosen cases of corruption (a low-level and a high-level corruption case) in each of the participating countries. The method used was the grounded theory approach that focused on discovering various patterns of corruption perception within expert elit-es. In Croatia, the two cases analyzed were: (a) financial issues associated with the last presidential campaign and (b) alleged corruption in the city of Zagreb homes for the elderly (Štulhofer et al., 2007).In the second phase, the same methodological approach was used to interview the representatives of six major expert groups (police, economy, legal system, politics, the media, and the civic sector). Selection of inter-viewees was based on two principal criteria: (a) a high position within the institutional hierarchy and (b) some professional experience with corrup-tion-related issues.The interviews covered a range of topics, such as: personal definition of corruption, assessment of corruption in Croatia and of the new anti-corruption strategy launched in 2006, the role of the EU and NGOs in combating corruption in Croatia, the treatment of corruption in the media, assessment of the public perception of corruption, the role of cultural/politi-cal heritage in the dynamics of corruption, and the dynamics of corruption  prevention in the interviewee’s working environment. The research mate-rial, collected during the March-May 2006 period, was coded and analyzed to discover the existing patterns of understanding corruption within the tar-get expert groups.Comparisons between the target groups were carried out on the basis of the following categories: (a) definition of corruption; (b) seriousness of   Ognjen Čaldarović et al.: Combating Corruption in Croatia, Revija za sociologiju 40[39] (2009), 1-2: 3–22  5 corruption in Croatia; (c) main loci  of corruption; (d) dynamics of cor-ruption; (e) roots/causes of corruption; (f) consequences of corruption; (g)  public perception of corruption; (h) corruption and trust in institutions; (i) the role of the media; (j) the role of NGOs; (k) measures for combat-ing the corruption; (l) the role of the EU; and (m) internal anti-corruption mechanisms. This second project phase resulted in empirical verification of the six ideal types of understanding corruption among Croatian experts: the Public Relations Model, characterized by simplified, often populist and one-dimensional definitions of corruption, the Expert Model, that entails complex and comprehensive assessment of corruption, the Nuisance Model, characterized by the lack of clear definition and anti-corruption ambitions, the Human Rights Model, which offers a comprehensive approach to fight-ing corruption, the Pragmatic Model, based on comprehensive legal-politi-cal definitions and political constraints in fighting corruption, and, finally, the Ignoring Model (Štulhofer et al., 2007).According to the analysis (Kufrin et al., 2008), the understanding of the mechanisms that facilitate corruption in Croatia seems to be rather high among the interviewed experts. Different mechanisms and generators were clearly described, most notably political clientelism and state capture (Hellman, Jones and Kaufmann, 2000), deeply rooted socio-cultural norms (local, kinship or politically-based social networks and the system of tradi-tional obligations), and insufficiently professionalized and underpaid public administration.In this paper, which presents the final project phase, we outline some  policy-oriented insights based on a synthesis of the earlier project activi-ties and the round table discussions with a group of experts. 1  After a brief methodological section, the analytical part of the paper is divided into four sections, each focusing on one of the major dimensions in combating corruption, which has become a crucial point in Croatian accession to the EU: (1) research on corruption, (2) sanctioning corruption, (3) prevent-ing corruption, and (4) increasing anti-corruption awareness. This brief analysis should not be mistaken for a set of policy recommendations. Our ambitions were much more modest and limited by the empirical data at our disposal. The aim was to provide some coherent and evidence-based material for a focused and realistic discussion on the major anti-corrup-tion activities that should be carried out in Croatia in the next 12 to 18 months. 1  The round table discussion session was held on 6 May 2008 at the Faculty of Humani-ties and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. The authors would like to thank all the  participants for their invaluable input and support.  Ognjen Čaldarović et al.: Combating Corruption in Croatia, Revija za sociologiju 40[39] (2009), 1-2: 3–22 6 1. Methodology In the interviews with the representatives of expert groups carried out in the second project phase, combating corruption figured as the prominent issue. Experts were asked to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the second national anti-corruption strategy and its likely effects, comment on the mechanisms for fighting corruption in their professional environment, evaluate the role of various actors involved in combating corruption, and suggest appropriate anti-corruption activities and measures.In the analysis of the interview transcripts, various codes attached to  particular statements concerning the fight against corruption were pooled in a family of fight against corruption codes. For the purpose of this paper, all the citations connected to any of the codes in this family have been ex-tracted and re-examined in the search for proposed activities and measures. The procedure has resulted in almost 150 expert citations referring to vari-ous measures or activities. However, the list was very redundant: similar measures and activities were proposed in most interviews. Identical propos-als and issues were often stated at various levels of generality or at different  points during the interview. The observed redundancy was reduced through  joining similar proposals under the same, more general heading. The reduc-tion of the list was done independently by two researchers, and resulted in  practically identical lists containing, approximately, a dozen items. Further analysis has suggested that additional generalization would be possible by distinguishing between the following general groups of activities:(1) Research on corruption(2) Prosecuting and penalizing corruption(3) Prevention of corruption(4) Strengthening anti-corruption awareness.During the brainstorming round table with experts (May 2008), the di-gested list of activities (expanded with typical measures; cf. Appendix) was discussed and the relevance, contextual strengths and weaknesses, and costs and benefits of the proposed activities assessed in a free flowing exchange of ideas. Unlike in the interviews, where it was only implicitly present, the issue of general political will for fighting corruption was strongly empha-sized in the round table discussion. All the discussants agreed that political will constitutes the crucial prerequisite for efficient combat of corruption. It was suggested that even the already existing measures could consider-ably curb corruption if supported by genuine political motivation. Most discussants expressed deep disbelief in the existence of readiness to fight corruption among members of the ruling political elite.


Jul 23, 2017
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