Corruption researcher:– Governments trust has been reduced
Norway falls on the corruption index. ‘This shows that the Norwegian population’s confidence in the government has been reduced,’ says professor at NHH, Tina Søreide.
In late January, Transparency International presented their annual index on corruption for 2018. Norway has fallen in the ranking. In 2017 we shared third place with Finland and Switzerland, but this year Norway has fallen to seventh place. The fall is due to a reduction on the index by one point – from 85 points to 84 out of a possible 100.
‘The index has been created to capture people's perception of corruption. There is considerable uncertainty associated with the result, as there might be a significant gap between what people believe is the extent of corruption, and the actual extent of corruption,’ says Professor Tina Søreide at the department of Accounting, Auditing and Law at NHH.
‘There is also a statistical uncertainty associated with the index, because it is generally difficult to measure people’s views on a phenomenon that extends over a wide range of actions,’ she points out.
Søreide is known for her research on corruption and says that Norwegians typically have zero tolerance for people who exploit their position of power to gain benefits for others.
‘We have zero tolerance for people who exploit their position to achieve unlawful benefits, as demonstrated by the debate caused by the Trude Drevland case a couple of years ago. Hence, even minor cases might cause a perception that corruption is a considerable issue,’ says Søreide.
She believes Norway's fall in the ranking reflects the population’s confidence in the government.
‘The index indicates something important, namely people’s confidence in the government of their country. Norway scores lower on the index in 2018, and I believe this reflects a somewhat reduced confidence in the government among the population,’ the researcher on corruption says.
Norway has lost one point on the index in a year.
‘The index shows no dramatic development for Norway in that sense, but it is nonetheless something the government should take seriously, for instance by highlighting the actual steps they are taking to combat corruption and promote integrity in the public sector,’ says Søreide.
In Norway, corruption is most problematic in the municipal administration, municipal planning and building departments, and procurement departments. Søreide has taken part in research that shows that there are big differences at the municipal level when it comes to enforcing integrity systems.
‘Some municipalities are very active in their anticorruption work, and they have good notification channels and active control committees. In other places there is a significant number of leaders in the municipal sector who have experienced attempts of corruption – and those trying to report the matter meet resistance,’ she says.
In addition, research shows that in some municipalities, ties between public and private parties can sometimes be too close.
‘Some of the parties involved do not see this as a problem. Transparency International’s work is therefore very important – the index makes people aware of the problem. The organisation does a very important job in Norway in raising anti-corruption competence precisely at the municipal level through information campaigns and dilemma training,’ says Søreide.