Bribery cartels: Collusive corruption in Bolivian street markets

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Abstract

Many Bolivians engage in corruption through intermediaries, like civil society representatives and lawyers, instead of paying officials directly. People vocally resent that intermediaries add an extra layer of costs and opaqueness to corruption but still choose to pay bribes through intermediaries that knowingly take advantage of them. Why do intermediaries facilitate corruption? While other studies on corrupt intermediaries find that they reduce uncertainty and transaction costs, this study contributes to corruption research by finding that intermediaries engage in cartel-like behavior by disproportionally helping officials and intentionally increasing uncertainty and costs for the average citizen. Ethnographic evidence from street markets in La Paz demonstrates that civil society actors like street vendors’ union representatives advance their careers by collecting and delivering bribes to specific bureaucrats. Collusive relationships between bureaucrats and intermediaries hide and perpetuate corruption, while giving the appearance of a transparent government that is responsive to civil society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalLatin American Research Review
Volume53
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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