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Competitiveness and corruption. Presented at the workshop Corruption – how and why to avoid it in Prague, November 1998

Transparency International (TI) is an international non-governmental organization fighting corruption and trying to raise public awareness of it.[1] This includes, but is not limited to, political corruption. It publishes every year its Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide. The international headquarters is located in Berlin, Germany. The founder of the organisation is Peter Eigen.


Organization and role

TI is organised as a group of some 100 national chapters, with an international secretariat in Berlin, Germany. Originally founded in Germany in May 1993 as a not-for-profit organisation, TI is now an international non-governmental organisation, and claims to be moving towards a completely democratic organisational structure. TI says of itself:

"Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. It brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI's mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption."

Since 1995, TI has issued an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI); it also publishes an annual Global Corruption Report, a Global Corruption Barometer and a Bribe Payers Index.

TI does not undertake investigations on single cases of corruption or expose individual cases. It develops tools for fighting corruption and works with other civil society organisations, companies and governments to implement them. The goal of TI is to be non-partisan and to build coalitions against corruption.

TI's biggest success has been to put the topic of corruption on the world's agenda. International Institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund now view corruption as one of the main obstacles for development, whereas prior to the 1990s this topic was not broadly discussed. TI furthermore played a vital role in the introduction of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Corruption Perceptions Index

The CPI—besides the World Bank corruption index[2]—is the most commonly used measure for corruption in countries worldwide. To form this index, TI compiles surveys that ask businessmen and analysts, both in and outside the countries they are analyzing, their perceptions of how corrupt a country is. Relying on the number of actual corruption cases would not work since laws and enforcement of laws differ significantly from country to country.

The CPI has received criticisms over the years. The main one stems from the difficulty in measuring corruption, which by definition happens behind the scenes. The CPI therefore needs to rely on third-party survey which have been criticized as potentially unreliable. Data can vary widely depending on the public perception of a country, the completeness of the surveys and the methodology used. The second issue is that data cannot be compared from year to year because TI uses different methodologies and samples every year. This makes it difficult to evaluate the result of new policies.[3] The CPI authors replied to these criticims by reminding that the CPI is meant to measure perception and not "reality". They argue that "perceptions matter in their own right, since... firms and individuals take actions based on perceptions".[4]


In December 2009, Transparency International's New Zealand offices were accused of a lack of transparency over irregularities in their financial statements, and their annual meeting attracted police attention when an accountability campaigner Penny Bright was evicted, despite being a paid-up member of Transparency International.[5]

Transparency International has consistently rated New Zealand as one of the least corrupt nations in the world, yet receives a large amount of funding from the New Zealand government, raising questions about the integrity of the organisation's CPI reports.

Competitiveness and corruption

A review of the linkages between countries' competitiveness and the incidence of corruption was initiated at a TI workshop in the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Prague, November 1998.

See also


External links



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