Why Get Technical? Corruption and the Politics of Public Service Reform in the Indian States
Bussell, Jennifer. Why Get Technical? Corruption and the Politics of Public Service Reform in the Indian States, 2010 in Comparative Political Studies 43(10): 1230-1257
The emergence of new information and communication technologies in the 1990s offered governments opportunities to deliver public services more effectively to their citizens. Yet national and sub-national authorities have employed such technologies in highly uneven ways. Drawing on a new dataset of technology policy adoption by Indian states, I argue that political calculations drive variation in the timing and scope of technology policies. Politicians weigh the expected electoral benefits from providing new goods to citizens against the expected electoral costs of reduced access to corrupt funds due to increased transparency. I show that the level of bureaucratic corruption in a state is the best predictor of both when states implement policies promoting computer-enabled services and the number of services made available. This finding contrasts with arguments that posit economic or developmental conditions, or alternative electoral and institutional characteristics, as the major drivers of technology investment.