Understanding "corruption" in regulatory agencies: the case of food inspection in Saudi Arabia

Al-Mutairi, S., Connerton, I. and Dingwall, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-1588-3796, 2019. Understanding "corruption" in regulatory agencies: the case of food inspection in Saudi Arabia. Regulation & Governance. ISSN 1748-5983

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Corruption is a relatively neglected topic in studies of regulatory agencies. The label is applied to a wide range of deviations from behavioural standards derived ultimately from Weber’s account of the ideals of Prussian bureaucracy. This paper draws on a study of the work of Saudi Food Inspectors (SFIs) to argue that it is unhelpful to reduce a complex phenomenon to simple allegations of malpractice that can be managed by disciplinary sanctions. Our data show that irregular behaviour by street-level agents may be deeply embedded in the expectations that members of a society have of one another. It is less a matter of personal gain than of maintaining one’s recognition as a fellow-citizen. Such behaviour is not easily changed through sanctions directed at individual inspectors. Our study does not exclude the possibility that irregular behaviour can be motivated by personal gain, and properly managed by criminal or similar penalties. However, it does propose that research should be more sensitive to the contexts within which irregular behaviour occurs rather than treating ‘corruption’ as a uniform and homogenous phenomenon.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Regulation & Governance
Creators: Al-Mutairi, S., Connerton, I. and Dingwall, R.
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Date: 26 March 2019
ISSN: 1748-5983
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 22 Feb 2019 15:57
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 10:40
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/35796

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