Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please provide an overview of approaches to and good practices for regulating nepotism.

Purpose

Transparency International Venezuela plans to present proposals for an anti-nepotism regulation to candidates in the upcoming elections. This answer will serve as input to those proposals.

Content

  1. Nepotism: definition, extent and nature of the problem
  2. Regulating nepotism: selected examples
  3. Dealing with political dynasties
  4. General considerations and challenges when regulating nepotism

Summary

Nepotism is defined as a form of favouritism based on acquaintances and familiar relationships whereby someone in an official position exploits his or her power and authority to provide a job or favour to a family member or friend, even though he or she may not be qualified or deserving. The negative consequences of nepotism have been well-documented and include decreasing efficiency, generating conflict among colleagues and lowering the ethical standards in the public sector.

There are several examples of anti-nepotism regulations worldwide. These range from broad constitutional articles (Nicaragua) to specific anti-nepotism legislation (Brazil) to organisation codes within public bodies.

While it is assumed that anti-nepotism regulations act as a corruption deterrent, thus promoting merit-based recruitment, we found little empirical evidence to corroborate that assumption. Enforcement is critical, and it is clear from the case law that some jurisdictions have been more vigilant than others at enforcing existing anti-nepotism rules and at investigating breaches.

When regulating nepotism, a number of general considerations must be taken into account. These include whether to opt for an outright ban on nepotism or to focus on ensuring the use of merit-based appointment systems for all applicants regardless of their connections. 

Authors

Suzanne Mulcahy, Ph.D., Transparency International, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

12/10/2015

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