Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 March 2022
This chapter begins by highlighting that public anger over corruption can have punishing political effects, making curbing it a critical issue for powerholders everywhere. I note that existing scholarship on corruption control focuses heavily on democracies and does not explain under what conditions authoritarian regimes combat and reduce corruption. I discuss the conventional wisdom about how autocrats do not have incentives to curb corruption and how my book challenges this view by showing a surprising number of meaningful anti-corruption efforts by authoritarian regimes. I lay out my argument for when and why authoritarian regimes are most likely to curb corruption, describe this book’s main cases in China, South Korea, and Taiwan, and introduce my novel scoring system for anti-corruption efforts. I then discuss the various theoretical implications of my argument for the broader study of authoritarian politics and governance. Finally, I give a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book to come.