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Understanding corruption through the analysis of court case content : research note

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Understanding corruption through the analysis of court case content : research note

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DE SOUSA, Luís, Patrícia CALCA, 2020. Understanding corruption through the analysis of court case content : research note. In: Qualitative Research Journal. Emerald. 21(2), pp. 135-147. ISSN 1443-9883. eISSN 1448-0980. Available under: doi: 10.1108/QRJ-04-2020-0029

@article{deSousa2020-09-23Under-50725, title={Understanding corruption through the analysis of court case content : research note}, year={2020}, doi={10.1108/QRJ-04-2020-0029}, number={2}, volume={21}, issn={1443-9883}, journal={Qualitative Research Journal}, pages={135--147}, author={de Sousa, Luís and Calca, Patrícia} }

2020-09-23 de Sousa, Luís 2020-09-08T12:06:35Z Calca, Patrícia terms-of-use 2020-09-08T12:06:35Z eng Purpose<br />The two main objectives of this project were to advance knowledge about the way corruption and related offences are structured and operate in society and to draw inferences on the efficiency and efficacy of the judicial authorities in handling reported offences with the ultimate goal of improving and effecting control policies.<br /><br />Design/methodology/approach<br />In this research note the authors attempt to explore the relevance of judicial materials. The authors developed an analytical framework to extract information from court case decisions and analysed 838 court cases on corruption and related offences in Portuguese first instance courts for the period 2004–2008 to map the distribution of corruption and related offences, understand the anatomy of corruption as a criminal offence and learn from the judicial system's capacity to investigate, prosecute and trial reported occurrences.<br /><br />Findings<br />Most corruption cases took place in the major metropolitan areas, involved municipalities as passive agents and construction companies as active agents and had to do with urban sprawl and land management policies. Court data also allowed the authors to gauge the areas or sectors of activity more exposed to corruption risks. Generally speaking, these tend to be those areas or sectors characterized by high levels of informality and clientelism, high profitability ratios deriving from political decisions, unbalanced supply-demand of decisional goods and services, disorganised and fragmented regulation, low levels of transparency and insufficient or misguided supervision.<br /><br />Research limitations/implications<br />The framework for analysis is replicable in other contexts with minor adjustments. The major limitation is access to court decisions/narratives. This project was developed in partnership with the Portuguese Public Prosecutor's Office. This has facilitated access to those materials. For those wishing to use the database, the major limitation is that it covers only the period 2004–2008.<br /><br /><br />Practical implications<br />The court narratives confirm that in cases where the complaint is complemented by documentary, audio, video and photographic evidences collected by special investigative means the subsequent production of proof in court is more effective. The data also suggests that cases reported from inside the organisation where the offence takes place are likelier to reach the trial phase, thus reinforcing the need for diversifying and strengthening reporting mechanisms and procedures and the guarantees to those who are willing to collaborate with the auditing and investigative authorities.<br /><br />Social implications<br />The authors contend that court cases of corruption and related offences yield important and useful policy-oriented information that should not be overlooked by decision-makers when upgrading their efforts to fight corruption.<br /><br />Originality/value<br />This research note introduces a novel dataset on corruption court cases in Portugal. The policy significance of this dataset is threefold: (1) it provides decision-makers a more detailed mapping of the volume and distribution of corruption and related offences across the country than that provided by standard judicial statistics; (2) it fosters knowledge on key sociological aspects of the corrupt fact, thus helping decision-makers to understand better the type of actors, objectives, contexts, resources and exchanges involved and (3) it helps to understand the dynamics of judicial proceedings and how certain procedural and institutional features impact on outcomes. Calca, Patrícia Understanding corruption through the analysis of court case content : research note de Sousa, Luís

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