Corruption, can it be measured actually? Causes, indicators and measurement methodology

AuthorEdlira Jorgaqi
PositionMember of the Central Election Commission of Albania
ISSN 2410-759X
Acces online at
Balkan Journal of Interdisciplinary Research
IIPCCL Publishing, Tirana-Albania Vol. 1 No. 3
January 2016
Corruption, can it be measured actually?
Causes, indicators and measurement methodology
Edlira Jorgaqi
Member of the Central Election Commission of Albania
Ethics, integrity and fight against corruption - these are issues which are significantly
included in the political and administrative agenda of our country. Corruption is a multi-
dimensional phenomenon. It emerges for different causes, varying from one place to
another, from one geographical and cultural reality to another, and also from one sector
to another. Such diversity must be considered when trying to measure corruption. An
efficient system of collection, analysis and distribution of information about crime and
criminal justice is a precondition for crime prevention. Different sources may provide
different information, thus creating confusion among the users. Yet, another unsolved
problem is the “invisible corruption”, because only what is visible can be measured.
Keywords: Corruption, Measurements, methodology.
Defining corruption
There is no unique, comprehensive and internationally accepted definition of
corruption. Any attempt in this regard is inevitably faced with problems of cultural,
methodological, disciplinary and normative nature. In front of this objective
difficulty, defining corruption as an activity which is contrary to law, is mostly
preferred. Such approach, which is a typical approach of criminal law, is certainly
In synthetic and general terms, corruption may be perceived as abuse by a subject
of entrusted power, for personal gain.
Essential elements of the definition are:
· Entrusted power,
· Subject to which power has been entrusted,
· Abuse of power by the subject,
· Personal gain deriving from the abuse.
The link among these four essential elements of the concept of corruption is
indispensable. International institutions define corruption phenomenon differently.
According to Transparency International, corruption consists in the abuse of
entrusted power for private purposes.
Such definition highlights three components of corruption:
- abuse of power,
- private purposes, which means that it is not only the subject abusing power, but
also the family members or friends that take advantage;
- entrusted power, which means that it may derive from both the public and the
private sector.
Transparency International sometimes makes use of this definition: “abuse of power
ISSN 2410-759X
Acces online at
Balkan Journal of Interdisciplinary Research
IIPCCL Publishing, Tirana-Albania Vol. 1 No. 3
January 2016
for personal enrichment purposes”. Such organisation classified corruption into
grand corruption, petty corruption and political corruption, depending on the
amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs. Grand corruption consists
of acts committed at a high level of government. Petty corruption refers to everyday
abuse of entrusted power by low- and mid-level public officials in their interactions
with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in
places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies. Political
corruption is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the
allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their
position to sustain their power, status and wealth.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe defines corruption as “public
power use and abuse for private gain” (Parliamentary Assembly, 2015). According
to European Commission “corruption is any abuse of process or any irregularity
committed in the context of a decision-making process in exchange for an undue
advantage”. The definition of the Council of Europe Group of States Against
Corruption is somehow different: “corruption is illicit remuneration or other
conduct, of persons in public or private sector who violate the law during
performance of their tasks, be them state employees, private sector employees or
independent agents, and who intend to gain unfair advantage of whatsoever nature,
for themselves or other persons”. According to this Group it is difficult to determine
accurately the legal boundaries of this phenomenon, but it is clear that its nature
shows that it concerns abuse of power or unfairness in decision-making.
World Bank supports the definition of corruption: “abuse of public office for personal
gain”. UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning has studies
corruption especially in the field of education. In this field, it defines corruption as:
“the systematic use of public office for private benefits, whose impact is significant
on the availability and quality of educational goods and services, and, has a
consequence on access, quality or equity in education”.
What are the general causes of the corruption phenomenon?
- Bad governance: vague laws, improper justice system, lack of transparency and
accountability, lack of freedom of the press;
- Lack of corruption prevention policy and assessment of importance of such cases,
including professional ethics, conflict of interest, refusal of gifts and other advantages;
- Weak institutions: the high officials are not held liable; officials are inclined to
receive payments, etc.;
- Low salaries: the public administration in many countries is paid relatively low
salary especially the doctors, police officers, customs officers who are the victims of
the mind-set that they do not need to be paid because they gain when performing
their functions;
- Low administrative culture.
Corruption international indicators
International indicators, at international level, for measuring corruption are
exclusively based on perception. They are:

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