Transparency International

CPI

Transparency International (TI) is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide. The headquarters is located in Berlin, Germany but operates through more than 70 national chapters around the world.

TI was founded in 1993 through the initiative of Peter Eigen, a former regional director for the World Bank. In 1995, TI developed the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI ranked nations on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys of business people. The CPI was subsequently published annually. It was criticized for poor methodology and unfair treatment of developing nations, while also being praised for highlighting corruption and embarrassing governments.

In 1999, TI began publishing the Bribe Payers Index (BPI) which ranked nations according to the prevalence that a country’s multinational corporations would offer bribes. 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 organizations, 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.

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. The CPI authors replied to these criticisms 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.’

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