The transition to democracy is a moment of great hope and opportunity for any country. Unfortunately, even when the movement for democracy was driven by the corruption of the old regime, the transition does not immediately solve the problem.
Writing in the Huffington Post, CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan argues that it is important to see corruption not just as a moral problem but as an institutional problem. And changing institutions is hard work that can take time.
“Successfully fighting corruption in transitions requires collective action of engaged citizens through associations, civil society groups, think tanks and other groups,” he writes. “Providing assistance to these organizations in the form of technical, management and even financial assistance can help foster a successful transition.”
While fighting corruption in countries in transition requires the engagement of broad sections of society, one area that is often overlooked is the private sector. This diverse group — including small businesses and entrepreneurs, large national companies, and the many enterprises that work informally — has an important role to play. Though some parts of the private sector may have little desire for reform, the less politically connected firms and small businesspeople are often among the main victims of corruption, making them important allies in this fight.