While scholars have focused on the macro-structural, institutional and legal dimensions at work in international anti-corruption, they have paid little attention to role of the more specific technologies through which social forces become entangled in efforts at combating corruption internationally. Drawing on studies of organisation, surveillance and governmentality, this article examines the capacity of performance indices to construct comparable and governable subjects in international efforts to combat corruption. It conceptualises performance indices in terms of technologies of distance, communication and surveillance and analyses a variety of corruption and anti-corruption indices, including corporate blacklisting as applied by the World Bank towards fraudulent corporations. It demonstrates how performance indices are implicated in the construction of standards and scripts for action against corruption, pointing to their importance for the determination of what constitutes legitimate social practice. More generally, the paper contributes to the study of global governance literatures by highlighting how practices of calculation, measurement and comparison can play a distinctive role in the constitution of spaces of governance.
Journal of International Relations and Development, 2012, Vol 15, Issue 4