In search of corruption and bad governance practices: Swedish and Finnish experiences, ca 1614–1917 (CorGo)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 314851

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 454 500,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2018

Project end date: 31/08/2022


Today, all of the Nordic countries are known for their high-quality administration and low levels of corruption. This state of affairs is the starting point for this project, which investigates the historical roots of the phenomenon. We are studying the norms, forms and the control of corruption in early modern Swedish Realm (including Finland up to 1809) and the Grand Duchy of Finland (to 1917). However, scholars have had quite opposite views of how high-quality or respectively inefficient or corrupt these societies were on that period. The project concentrates on bureaucratic corruption (the spheres of civil government and judiciary) and the political corruption will be present as context and benchmark.

Although the vast number of international corruption research, the number of studies based on long-term historical and empirical analyses is still limited. The corruption has to be defined according to views in the society studied and to the relevant contexts: usually bribery, abuse of public funds and power, unsuitable gifts are seen corruption. Recently, the “the Old-Boy Networks” is also included to the concept.

The project aims to I) recognize and identify the forms and practices of corruption in Sweden and in Finland in the long term and (II) to analyze and explain the changes and continuities. The project will proceed on three interrelated levels: 1) Norms and standards, 2) Forms and practices and 3) Control – prevention, reaction and repression.

The project studies the changing views of good and efficient governance through its negations. “Good governance” can be expected to be effective, loyal and impartial. We are approaching the problem by focusing on the negations to an efficient, loyal and impartial administration. Focusing on the irregularities and bad governance practices are a way to analyze the bureaucracy and officials' role in the implementation of laws and policies.

The study is based on the combination of qualitative and quantitative data. The source material consists of judicial cases, discussions at the Diet and Riksdag, normative legal materials and the variety of public debates. Archival materials are to be found in several locations in Sweden and in Finland.

The results obtained from a wide research area and versatile source material enables broader generalizations of the corruption-related mechanisms, bad governance practices and impacts of them, and long-term path dependencies.

Principal Investigator

Primary responsible unit

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Last updated on 2021-17-03 at 12:08