This article utilizes a neoinstitutionalist framework to argue that while Germany’s anticorruption infrastructure remains strong, resilient path-dependent tendencies often make it difficult to reform. The article analyzes three specific areas: the state’s attitude to regulating German business, meeting international anticorruption commitments, and doing justice to the rising transparency agenda. High-profile examples of corruption in multinational businesses prompted significant changes to these companies’ compliance regimes. This critical juncture, however, did not prompt reform across much of the Mittelstand. Germany’s preparedness to fulfill international commitments, meanwhile, has been strongly dependent on correspondence with the internal logic of German politics and law. Where this was not so and in the absence of any critical junctures, change has been infrequent. Finally, the rise of an international transparency agenda has not fit with the logics of German public life, and change has been minimal. Thus, despite a strong anticorruption record, German elites would benefit from proactively thinking about where corruption lurks and what could be done.
Dan Hough is a Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex in the uk. He is also Director of the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption (scsc) and Chairman of the International Association for the Study of German Politics (iasgp). He has published widely on left-wing politics, German politics, and corruption. His recent monographs include Corruption, Anti-Corruption and Governance (Basgingstoke, 2013) and Analysing Corruption (New York, 2017). He is also a co-author (with Simon Green and Alister Miskimmon) of The Politics of the New Germany (Abingdon, 2011; third edition to be published in 2018).