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Neo‐colonialism through measurement: a critique of the corruption perception index

Bill de Maria (UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide space for the consideration of alternatives to the dominant conceptions of corruption and its measurement.


The paper provides an in‐depth secondary source analysis within a post‐colonial framework.


The paper demonstrates how public administration can be subverted to the agenda of business by the way the measurement and management of African “corruption” is manipulated to serve Western economic interests. The conclusion reached is that the most popular measure of corruption, Transparency International's (TIs) corruption perception index (CPI), is a flawed instrument, capable only of calculating vague proxies of corruption. The index is oblivious to cultural variance and is business‐centric in style and philosophy.


The paper represents one of the first attempts to expose the business serving purpose of TI's CPI. A fresh approach to corruption is advocated around two principles; corruption cannot be comprehended outside the experience, nor can it submit to empirical investigation. A new corruption‐fighting role for the African Union is envisaged.



de Maria, B. (2008), "Neo‐colonialism through measurement: a critique of the corruption perception index", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 4 No. 2/3, pp. 184-202.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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