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The Great Danes: Successes and Subtleties of Corruption Control in Denmark

Different Paths to Curbing Corruption

ISBN: 978-1-78190-730-6, eISBN: 978-1-78190-731-3

ISSN: 0732-1317

Publication date: 26 November 2013


Denmark’s apparent success at controlling corruption is likely both real and more complex than it may appear. This chapter reviews a series of hypotheses about the extent and sources of corruption control in Denmark, emphasizing both domestic and international factors. Some possible vulnerabilities are discussed, including whether Greenland – which is usually excluded from Danish governance ratings – might introduce corruption via its mining industries, and whether the growing wind-power industry (in some senses, another extractive enterprise) might also encourage corruption. A simple data analysis, using the Gothenburg University Quality of Government Impartiality Index, suggests that small social scale, a homogeneous population, competitive politics, and extensive international connectedness might well help check Danish corruption, but relationships among the variables are complex and marked by considerable simultaneity. Denmark illustrates two subtleties often overlooked: the importance of “soft controls” – social values, a working consensus, an emphasis on fairness, and common goals – for corruption control, and the question of whether advanced market societies really control corruption or merely reduce incentives to engage in it, as a result of business-friendly policies and institutions. A final issue involves dependent variables: better indirect measures of corruption might well be obtained by gathering and benchmarking indicators of government performance.


Johnston, M. (2013), "The Great Danes: Successes and Subtleties of Corruption Control in Denmark", Different Paths to Curbing Corruption (Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 23-56.



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