Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Nicholas G. Onuf

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Emily A. Copeland

Third Advisor's Name

Ivelaw L. Griffith

Fourth Advisor's Name

Eduardo A. Gamarra

Fifth Advisor's Name

Anthony P. Maingot

Date of Defense



Political corruption in the Caribbean Basin retards state economic growth and development, undermines government legitimacy, and threatens state security. In spite of recent anti-corruption efforts of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations (IGO/NGOs), Caribbean political corruption problems appear to be worsening in the post-Cold War period. This dissertation discovers why IGO/NGO efforts to arrest corruption are failing by investigating the domestic and international causes of political corruption in the Caribbean. The dissertation’s theoretical framework centers on an interdisciplinary model of the causes of political corruption built within the rule-oriented constructivist approach to social science. The model first employs a rational choice analysis that broadly explains the varying levels of political corruption found across the region. The constructivist theory of social rules is then used to develop the structural mechanisms that further explain the region’s levels of political corruption. The dissertation advances its theory of the causes of political corruption through qualitative disciplined-configurative case studies of political corruption in Jamaica and Costa Rica. The dissertation finds that IGO/NGO sponsored anti-corruption programs are failing because they employ only technical measures (issuing anti-corruption laws and regulations, providing transparency in accounting procedures, improving freedom of the press, establishing electoral reforms, etc.). While these IGO/NGO technical measures are necessary, they are not sufficient to arrest the Caribbean’s political corruption problems. This dissertation concludes that to be successful, IGO/NGO anti-corruption programs must also include social measures, e.g., building civil societies and modernizing political cultures, for there to be any hope of lowering political corruption levels and improving Caribbean social conditions. The dissertation also highlights the key role of Caribbean governing elite in constructing the political and economic structures that cause their states’ political corruption problems.





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