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Workshop on Governance and Political Economy Held at the MYRA School of Business

MYSORE, India, December 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

The MYRA School of Business hosted the "Workshop on Governance and Political Economy" in Mysore on December 17th and 18th. The Workshop was held in association with the Department of Economics at University of Warwick and the Association for Public Economic Theory, and was organized by Prof. Amrita Dhillon, University of Warwick and Prof. Shalini Urs, MYRA School of Business.

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In line with MYRA's vision to further socially-relevant management research, this inter-disciplinary workshop brought together 28 renowned economists, political scientists, and policymakers from 10 different countries to address pressing issues related to political accountability, effective governance, and corruption.

Prof. Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the world's most influential scholars on developmental economics and political economy, was the plenary speaker. In his talk, "Corruption in India - When Preaching Piety is Not Enough," he gave a well-reasoned and nuanced critique of efforts to reduce corruption in India.

Although corruption is a much-discussed issue in today's world, Bardhan was sceptical of the good that overemphasizing corruption can do. He stated, "Overzealousness in setting up an ombudsman such as Jan Lok Pal, can stifle honest and dynamic leadership by public-sector officials. An atmosphere of suspected pervasive corruption causes people to function hesitantly and ineffectively. It leads to policy paralysis and a culture of cynicism." He also added, "a super-bureaucracy to punish corrupt officials always raises questions like 'who monitor's the monitor' and 'do we have to bribe at yet another place now?'"

His eye-opening critique were subsequently followed by 17 talks which were given by eminent scholars from ten different countries (UK, USA, Italy, Germany, Spain, Canada, France, Austria, Australia, and India) and institutions such as UC Berkeley, Paris School of Economics, Joint Vienna Institute, Max Planck Institute of Economics, ENSAE ParisTech, Vanderbilt University, University of Padua, Queens University, University of Arkansas, Indian Statistical Institute, Columbia University, University of Warwick, Delhi School of Economics, University of Oregon, University of Exeter, Goethe University Frankfurt, University of Exeter, and New York University.

By bringing together scholars of various disciplines from the world's leading institutions, critical issues of political governance were examined from various angles and diverse perspectives. Both theoretical and empirical approaches were reviewed in six sessions: "Deterrence Incentives, Caste Politics, Networks, and Corruption", "Culture of Corruption and Self-selection", "Institutions, the State, and Political Accountability", "Voting and Corruption", "Dynamics", and "Empiricism."

Session One: Deterrence Incentives, Caste Politics, Networks, and Corruption

Starting off session one, Ajit Mishra, University of Bath, UK presented his paper, "Controlling Collusion and Extortion: The Twin Faces of Corruption" which was co-authored with Dilip Mookherjee, Boston University, USA. He defined Collusion as under-reporting offences in exchange for bribes, and extortion as extracting bribes under threat of over-reporting.  "In order to tackle corruption, one needs to unbundle corruption and look at various 'types' or 'forms' while designing corruption control," said Mishra.

This was followed by "Caste Politics, Corruption, and Distribution in India: The Effect of Voter Preference on Policy Outcomes in Uttar Pradesh" by Rohini Somanathan, Delhi School Of Economics, India. She looked at the implications of ethnic politics by studying a wealth of electoral data. According to her research, corruption is relatively insensitive to caste biases but distribution policies vary more substantially.

Raja Kali, University of Arkansas, USA, presented a paper on "Political Connections, Entrepreneurship, and Social Network Investment" which was co-authored by Nisvan Erkal, University of Melbourne, Australia. This paper explored issues related to entrepreneurs in developing countries and how economic liberalization and political modernization impact social network ties.

Session Two: Cultures of Corruption and Self Selection

It started off with "Status Incentives and Corruption," a paper by Antonio Nicolo, University of Padua, Italy, and Amrita Dhillon, University of Warwick, UK. While most anti-corruption incentives deal with wages, their paper focused on "status" ­- arguing that individuals are motivated by prestige or status of a profession. Nicolo and Dhillon argued that non-monetary incentives which increase the prestige of a profession are powerful ways to overcome both bribe taking and selection. They supported their arguments with mathematical models and literature reviews.

This was followed by a talk by Gautam Bose, University of New South Wales, Australia who spoke about "Moral Cost, Perception, and Corruption" and discussed the interplay between the three constructs. The paper was co-authored by Patrick Schneider, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Session Three: Institutions, the State and the Political Accountability

The session began with a talk titled "On the Simultaneous Emergence of Money and the State" by Gael Giraud, Paris School of Economics, France, and Myrna Wooders, Vanderbilt University, USA. By providing an explanation of trading mechanisms, transaction costs, and evaluation of goods and taxes - Wooders and Giraud showed that in the long-run, citizens have an incentive to pay taxes and select a benevolent politician in order to guarantee a minimal production of public good (as A kind of social security). Being a citizen, a politician in power also has an incentive in the long‐run to be benevolent. Thus - historically, the emergence of fiat money and organized states went hand in hand.

David Hugh-Jones, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Germany presented "Coercive Capacity and Anonymity". "Understanding the link between public goods games and expropriation games can help show how societies succeed or fail in creating social order and why ethnic heterogeneity, inequality, and exit options matter," said Hugh-Jones.

To conclude the session, Sumon Majumdar, Queens University, Canada, presented his paper, "Institution Building and Political Accountability," which he co-authored with Sharun Mukand, University of Warwick, UK. Majumdar's theoretical models yielded some insights into how developmental policy or coercive instruments could be effective in helping to build democracies. In some countries, the mere holding of democratic elections serves to improve governance. But in others, democracy does not alter the fundamental institutional structure. Developmental policy can sometimes help political elites to modernize, but in other cases, it may even endanger the functioning of previously good institutions. Majumdar's work sets the stage for a wealth of future research.

The evening ended with a performance by the Raja Vadya Goshti, an elite musical ensemble which first came together during the reign of Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore from 1902 till 1940.

Session Four: Voting and Corruption

The talks for Tuesday, December 18th, started off with Rebecca Morton, New York University, USA presenting her paper titled, "Corruption in Committees: Distrust of Experts and Information Aggregation through Voting," which was co-authored with Jean-Robert Tyran, University of Vienna, Austria and Marco Piovesan, University of Copenhagen. She discussed how corruption occurs in election situations when a member is "bought" or "bribed" to vote in a particular way - independent of the common good. Her experimental research involved a set of experiments to investigate whether subjects have a behavioral tendency to distrust experts when they are potentially corrupt.

The session continued with a talk titled "Learning from Exit-Polls in Sequential Elections" given by Manasa Patnam, CREST (ENSAE ParisTech), France. She empirically explored the questions, "to what extent do exit polls influence voting behavior? And how?" By analyzing data sets from the Indian 2004 General Election, she found that voters who poll in later phases did indeed react to previous exit poll results.

Session Five: Dynamics

Mihail Drugov, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain gave the first talk titled "Optimal Patronage". He discussed how people care about their 'group' (ethnicity, caste, place) and 'values' (social, political, religious) - and stated that corrupt bureaucrats prefer to deal with other corrupt ones and honest bureaucrats prefer to deal with other honest ones. His paper looked at how this dynamic plays out when such people are brought into an organization and compete for power.

The next presentation in the session was "Dynamic Commercial Lobbying" by Thomas Groll, Columbia University, USA and Christopher Ellis, University of Oregon, USA. They explored the questions "what explains the observed repeated personal interactions between lobbyists and policymakers" and "What are the welfare implications of these interactions?". Their study was the first study which explained repeated personal lobbying interactions and found that policymakers use repeated interactions as implicit contracts and for reference.

"Corruption and Seigniorage" by Gareth Myles, University of Exeter, UK and Hana Yousefi, University of Exeter, UK followed this talk. There is compelling empirical evidence that corruption is linked to inflation. It is clear why corruption can reduce efficiency and increase costs. But this cannot explain persistent differences in inflation rates. This paper analyzed the link between corruption and inflation. It demonstrated that there could be a theoretical explanation of the empirical correlation between inflation and corruption.

This was followed by "Culture of Corruption, Tax Evasion, and Fiscal Policy" by Maksym Ivanyna, Joint Vienna Institute, Austria. The paper was written in collaboration with Alex Mourmouras and Peter Rangazas. His research set out to quantify the joint effects of corruption and evasion on fiscal policy (level of taxation) and growth and use comparative statics regarding efficiency wages and the crackdown on corruption vs. evasion. Using complex theoretical mathematical models, he showed how corruption and tax evasion interact within a fiscal policy setting.

Session Six: Empirics

Farzana Afridi, Indian Statistical Institute, India started off the final session with her talk "Does Female Leadership Impact Governance and Corruption? Evidence from a Poverty Alleviation Programme in Andhra Pradesh, India." The motivation for her study was that poor governance and corruption are often reasons for  disappointing performance of public programmes in developing countries. By examining the dynamics of female leadership, she set out to understand how it affects implementation of large public programmes, how it changes governance over time, and what individual characteristics are important for female political heads to have.

The next talk was by Rajeev Goel, Illinois State University, USA who spoke on "Whistleblower Laws and Exposed Corruption - Evidence from American States". Whistleblower (WB) laws are designed to protect and encourage voluntary policing of misconduct in public institutions by safeguarding and rewarding individuals who expose wrongdoings. Using recent data on observed corruption, his research uniquely examined awareness about whistleblower laws on the level of observed corrupt activity. 

The final session (and the Workshop as a whole) ended with a presentation by Vilen Lipatov, Goethe University  Frankfurt, Germany. His paper titled "A Journey from a Corruption Port to a Tax Haven" was co-authored with Shafik Hebous. Most studies today focus on strategies for seeking shelter from tax authorities or the choice of a country to become a tax haven. Lipatov presented a theoretical model to examine the connection between the operations of firms in corrupt countries (possibly with low- and middle-income economies) and the firms demand for tax havens' services.

About MYRA School of Business

The MYRA School of Business is a management institution in Mysore offering a 2-year PGDM and 1-year PGPX program. Through a rigorous research-based curriculum, a distinguished faculty line-up, and an architecturally-acclaimed campus, MYRA aims to deliver an education that is unparalleled in Asia. Padma Bhushan Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC, described MYRA as "a world-class platform to develop the future business leaders of India." MYRA will welcome its Founding Class in July 2013. To know more, visit www.myra.ac.in.

Follow us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/myrabusinessschool

See photos from the Workshop at: www.myra.ac.in/governance-and-the-political-economy

Primary Media Contact: Ashwin Rao, [email protected], 91-900-8523333

Secondary Media Contact: Deepa Jaganath, [email protected], 91-953-5423333

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