Is the glass half full or half empty? Perceptions of the scale and nature of corruption in the Netherlands

G. van de Graaf*, L.W.J.C. Huberts*, H. Nelen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Abstract this paper summarises the empirical results of a study on the scale, nature and outcome of corruption cases in the netherlands. It turns out that the number of convictions for corruption offences in the netherlands has remained very stable in recent decades. Research into the nature of corruption leads to the conclusion that civil servants who are found to be susceptible to corruption tend not to be low-profile officials, but rather personalities with a reputation in the civil service organisation for being noticeable, colourful and astute ‘fixers’. They frequently possess or demand the freedom to arrange matters on their own and are known as thorough and enterprising people. The research material further shows that the briber and the bribed usually know each other well before the violation of integrity occurs. This is not confined to business or instrumental relationships, because an element of friendship or affection is regularly involved. Something that plays a role in this setting is that trust is pivotal to prolonged corruption relationships. Research into the outcome of corruption cases leads to the conclusion that criminal prosecutions, once instituted, result, in nine out of ten instances, in a criminal conviction. Although suspects are sometimes acquitted on certain counts, complete acquittals are rare. The punishment most frequently handed down is a community service order. Combinations with other punishments occur regularly, with a custodial sentence or fine often being suspended. An average of five civil servants and three bribers actually end up behind bars each year.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-94
JournalPerspectives on European Politics and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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