About the database
The project Corruption & Integrity revolves around a database in which we aim to collect and describe scandals involving (supposed) corruption and lacking integrity of public officials in the Netherlands between 1945 and the present. The database includes cases that might still be in court and/or cases in which it has been found that no corruption was actually at play. It is important to note that inclusion of a case in the database does not in principle say anything about whether an act is or has been right, wrong, illegal or corrupt. The CPVE does not attach any judgment to the cases it describes and is solely interested in analyzing the public debate surrounding (supposed) instances of corruption and lacking integrity. Public debate is, therefore, the main criterium for inclusion in the database. For more information please see our "Disclaimer/proclaimer" on this website.
Since the project is ongoing, the database is constantly updated. This means that not all cases of corruption from this period are (or might ever be) present. Furthermore, as new cases constantly appear, our database will become larger in time. If cases from the past that you know of are not present in the database, please do not hesitate to contact us and tell us all about it. The project is characterized by a historical approach (see below). This means the database does not contain very recent cases which are still unfolding.
Finding your way in the database
The database consists of three main sections: Case Index, Case Descriptions and Case Search. The Case Index provides the foundation of the database, with all available cases listed in order of creation. The framework as presented below is also applied here, with each case featuring different categories. Secondly, the Case Descriptions provide the facts surrounding a particular case of corruption in about 2000 words per case. This description rests on various sources, such as newspaper articles, legal material and other secondary sources. Thirdly, the Case Search allows for quickly looking up specific cases with use of a framework of categories (see below). For example, if one is interested in corruption cases featuring a certain province and a certain political party, it is a matter of selecting these particular categories after which relevant cases are selected. This allows for easy isolation of cases that are relevant for one's specific research.
Please note that "Case Descriptions" is currently not visible to or open for the general public. For exceptions, please contact the CPVE team.
The database framework of analysis
The Concept of Corruption in different types
Corruption is a highly contested and complex concept, influenced by cultural, historical and political factors. For literature on the topic we refer to our Further Reading, also on this page. Corruption can be - and often is - used as an umbrella term for many different kinds of criminal or morally objectionable behavior. Instead of creating an additional framework for corruption, we choose to use an established conceptual framework based of the work of Prof. dr. Leo Huberts (2014)1. This framework sees corruption as a violation of integrity, in public administration, based on Western laws, values and norms. This framework suits the purposes of our databse very well and is used to analyze as well as categorize the different acts of corruption that are placed in the databe. The framework consists of the following types of corruption:
1. Corruption: Bribery
2. Corruption: Favoritism
3. Fraud and theft of resources
4. Conflict of (private and public) interests through offering or accepting "gifts"
5. Conflict of (private and public) interests through additional functions or sideline activities
6. Improper use of authority
7. Misuse and manipulation of information
8. Indecent treatment of colleagues, citizens and/or customers
9. Waste and abuse of organizational (public) resources
10. Private misconduct
Categories in the database
The database aims to be more than just a factual representation of corruption cases. To provide a start for further research and analysis, case are organized and categorized through a custom framework. In the following section we list the different categories that are used. We also explain how these are applied. Some of these categories are based on specific theoretical concepts.
All categories provide useful filtering options for researchers with distinct questions and/or looking for particular traits in corruption cases.
Each case contains basic information about the geographical location and the time period of the events of the corruption scandal. This allows for filtering. Included are the main city and the province within the Netherlands where the case occurred.
Another category in the database is the level of government where the corruption occurred. This category is divided into a national, provincial, regional and local level. For example, local cases usually correspond to cases involving municipalities while national cases often correspond to ministries.
Public & Private
The public and private dichotomy in society has been the topic of countless studies (see also Further Reading), and is relevant for this database as well. The focus of the project and databse is on corruption within public government, among public officials. Instances of corruption that solely involve two or more public actors are categorized in the database as Public-Public. Instances of corruption that involve public as well as a private actors are categorized as Public-Private. The database does not include cases of corruption with solely private actors. Hence, a category Private-Private is lacking.
Type of public official
Government consists of public officials and is governed by politicians. The politics and administration dichotomy is a recurring theme in the field of public administration (please see Further Reading) and is relevant for our database as well. To keep it simple, we recognize that the database covers the whole of the public government, which involves different types of public officials. In the database the distinction is made between the following types: The political elected (such as council or parliament members) the political appointed (such as mayors and aldermen), and the administrative appointed (such as civil servants at various levels and organizations in government).
Political affiliation is usually listed as a category with which to filter. This is relevant, for instance, in cases where people are accused and political motives might also be at play. It should be clear, however, that mentioning political party affilliation of a person involved in a corruption scandal does not and should not lead to conclusions about the political party as a whole. At the same time, this category (as do the others) does provides an opportunity to filter and select for various specific purposes.
Government Sector & Policy Area
Government in the broadest sense of the word consists of a multitude of different organizations involved in different kinds of policy, at different stages of the policy 'cycle' for different policy areas. This means that just like the territorial scope (see above), the functional scope (government sector & policy area) is important. This category provides a (rough) distinction per separate field of government ranging - for example - from healthcare to infrastructure to justice. Again, an opportunity for filtering and selecting is added.
Corruption is, of course, not legal in the Netherlands. If the accusation, coupled with proof, is serious enough the Openbaar Ministerie (the Dutch DA's office) decides to investigate and possibly prosecute. It is then up to the judge to decide whether or not the accused is guilty. This process is also listed in a separate category, which should cater to any researcher interested in judiciary outcomes. Cases are categorized as: no prosecution, a conviction, an acquittal, dismissal of the case or a settlement.
1 Huberts, L. (2014). The Integrity of Governance: What it is, What we Know, What is Done and Where to go. Hampshire, United Kingdom: Palgrave MacMillan.