Ed A Hewett Book Prize


Honorable Mention

Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia

Honorable Mention: Kelly McMann
Title: Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia (Cornell University Press)

In Corruption as a Last Resort, Kelly McMann addresses the issue of low-level corruption from the opposite direction of most scholars. Many analysts have explored why and how bureaucrats and other government officials use their public office for private gain. What is less investigated are the conditions under which citizens, who almost universally express disdain for corruption, are willing to pay the bribes at all.

Using case studies of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, a comparison with Uzbekistan, and a large-n statistical analysis, McMann shows that citizens bribe officials for crucial services when other potential suppliers—in particular, formal markets, charities, and families—cannot provide them. Furthermore, she demonstrates that market reforms, as typically designed, tend to undermine exactly those institutions, thereby increasing demand from below for corruption. Corruption as a Last Resort combines intensive fieldwork, qualitative data, and statistical analysis into a well-written book to answer an important question in the political economy of Central Asia and beyond.

Winner: Yanni Kotsonis