2012 Title VIII Regional Policy Symposium Research Abstracts
The 2012 Regional Policy Symposium brings together American junior and senior scholars to examine timely issues concerning transnational crime and corruption from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Junior scholars' research touches on a variety of topics, including the drug trade, sex trafficking, human smuggling, corruption in the business and public sector, and others. Please see below for brief research abstracts.
Department of Political Science
Northwestern University Evanston, IL
Research Topic: Crime and Corruption's Role in Russian Business Conflicts
This research investigates the conditions under which Russian firms rely on criminal violence and corruption to protect property rights, and the conditions under which they abandon illegal practices in favor of law and formal institutions. The study draws on interviews with Russian firms, lawyers, and private security agencies in Moscow and Barnaul as well as a survey of enterprises across eight Russian cities. The findings of the project have implications for the promotion of the rule of law, identifying factors – such as the consolidation of ownership, banking sector development, or foreign direct investment – which encourage firms to turn to formal legal institutions for resolving disputes.
National Security Affairs
Naval Postgraduate School
Research Topic: Brothers and Clients: Heroin, Turkey and the Making of the Albanian “Mafia”
Despite the growing prominence of Albanian organized crime in global illicit activities, little investigation has been done into the origins of the Albanian "mafia" and its relationship with other criminal groups. This research investigates the history of Albanian involvement in drug smuggling and distribution networks based in Turkey and their role in the European heroin trade. Through archival studies of recently declassified documents and drawing on Albanian and Turkish media, the project contextualizes drug trafficking networks in Turkey by examining Albanian migration, identity issues and diaspora communities.
International Organization for Migration Mission in Tajikistan
Research Topic: Implications of a Weak Border: The Link between the Drug Economy in Afghanistan and Human Trafficking Across the Tajik-Afghan Border in Post-Soviet Tajikistan
This research examines links between drug trafficking and human trafficking across the Tajikistan- Afghanistan border -- specifically, the use of cross-border kidnappings and human trafficking as means of fulfilling a drug debt by Afghan criminal actors. Furthermore, the paper argues that state actor involvement and interests in the Tajikistan drug trafficking economy is an obstacle to the improvement of cross-border security. The project draws on field interviews with civil society NGOs and border residents in Dushanbe, Rushan, Khorog and Ishkashim, and seeks to inform border security programs and investments in Tajikistan.
Department of Sociology
Sam Houston State University
Research Topic: The “Utilities War” in Ukraine: A Case Study on Corruption in Critical Support Infrastructure
Non-payment of utility bills, evasion of payment through a variety of corruption schemes and fraud, and unauthorized reallocation of the costs of consumed utilities are widespread in Ukraine among the public and businesses, often with the involvement of local and central government officials. This research examines the relationships between the public, government, and the private sector around the provision of public utilities in Ukraine. This project is based on participant observation and interviews with experts, employees of utility-providing enterprises, and consumers, including both the public and small business owners. The findings have implications for the legitimization of political power and economic order in Ukraine, the degree to which corrupt practices are habituated in society, and the impact of domestic utility provision on regional energy security.
Department of Political Science
New Brunswick, NJ
Research Topic: The Borderlands of Badakhshan: Drugs and Power Brokers
This research is an examination of the informal networks and formal institutions in the borderlands of Badakhshan between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the context of drug and human trafficking. The key findings concern the relative importance of informal institutions on each side of the border and the prevalence and economic impact of the drug trade on societal and human development and stability in the border region, including the need for drug treatment and education. The results are based on ethnographic research, participant-observation and interviews with official and unofficial leaders and stakeholders in Badakhshan.
Department of International Business
George Washington University
Research Topic: The Effectiveness of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the OECD Convention on Bribery in the Energy Sector of Eastern Europe and Eurasia
This research examines the effectiveness of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery by measuring the sensitivity to corruption of foreign direct investment in the energy sector in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, where resource-based conflict and energy sector corruption is common. Multinational corporations often find corruption a constraint on their investments, but corrupt transactions may also be viewed as advantageous by individual firms. The project's initial findings show that compliance with anti-corruption policies may vary by sector and depending on host-country institutions, and that sector-based and firm-based policies may be warranted.
Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
Georgia State University
Research Topic: Law Enforcement Responses to Sex Trafficking in Bosnia: An Exploratory Analysis of the Training Needs of the Border Police
Post-conflict societies like Bosnia-Herzegovina, with their turbulent political, social, and economic conditions, tend to have high levels of sex trafficking. Because border patrol officers are usually the first officials to come into contact with sex trafficking victims, many of these officers in Bosnia have received training on sex trafficking issues, but little is known about the effectiveness of such training. This study, based on self-reported survey data from border police officers, shows that officers that have received training report higher levels of knowledge and less need for additional training, but ongoing training for all officers may be needed.
Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Topic: The Determinants of Anti-Corruption Reform in the Republic of Georgia
Given its history of high levels of corruption, the progress that the Republic of Georgia has made in its anti-corruption reforms since the Rose Revolution of 2003 is especially noteworthy. This research project seeks to explain how the Georgian administration was able to effect successful anti-corruption reforms in the country, especially since similar reforms have faced difficulties elsewhere. Based on a year of fieldwork in Tbilisi as well as information from quantitative databases and newspaper accounts, Nasuti hypothesizes that the low level of internal cohesion and state capacity in Georgia prior to 2003 provided few institutional barriers that could work to block the anti-corruption reforms once a reform-minded government came to power. The project also distinguishes between petty and elite-level corruption in order to analyze the present and future trends for corruption in the country.
Department of Political Science
Research Topic: The Limits of State-Building: The Politics of War and the Ideology of Peace
In post-civil war international administrations in Bosnia, Cambodia, East Timor, and Kosovo, scholars and international officials expected that there would be sufficient authority and resources to build strong state institutions in areas such as the police, military, elections, and revenue. However, only a few efforts left strong institutions, while many efforts failed and contributed to violence and underdevelopment. This research, based on fieldwork in these four countries, demonstrates that institution building will only succeed when the international community is unified and does not threaten local elites’ nationalist goals or informal corruption and criminal networks. The project offers insight into current state-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Western Balkans, and suggests that the international community must accept the dominance of existing elites in the short term while working to strengthen state institutions in the long term.
Department of International and Transcultural Studies
New York, NY
Research Topic: Making of a Voiceless Youth: Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina's Higher Education
This research examines corruption in Bosnia’s higher education system, as well as its impact on the social mobility and coping mechanisms of Bosnia’s students. Through surveys and interviews of Bosnia’s university students, this study finds that, despite students’ current passivity, they can be empowered through the introduction of credible processes that allow students to complain anonymously. The findings suggest that reforms that require greater transparency of examination and grading procedures; that offer professorships to attract highly educated diaspora members; and that provide spaces for disclosure and adequate management of incidences of corruption would constitute a meaningful starting point for combating corruption. The Sabic-El-Rayess concludes that in the absence of these efforts, the dominance of incompetent elites will continue to dilute the effectiveness of international aid and the international community’s nation-building agenda for post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina.