Transparency International is a global corruption watchdog that performs data research in international corruption perception, a non-governmental organization that analyzes unethical behavior in corporate and governmental interaction. The organization was established in 1993 by Peter Eigen, a former regional director for the World Bank. Transparency International is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, with approximately 100 chapters located globally.
The primary focus of Transparency International is the annual CPI report, or the Corruption Perception Index, which is a ranking of the world's primary 178 countries with a ranking for each nation on a descending scale of zero through ten, with zero being the most corrupt rating possible and ten as the highest transparency rating. Corruption perception is measured, rather than actual corruption verified by prosecution within the private sector.
One of the primary focus areas is bribery, both locally and nationally, concerning the governmental organizations that routinely solicit the populace for coerced contribution. In many poor countries the people are regularly strong-armed by local authorities, or perceived authorities. Lack of education and empowerment is an obstacle in these poorer societies, as the population has no recourse other than to comply with the government officials or tribal members.
National corruption usually centers on the issuance of government contracts. Transparency International generally describes corruption as using public administrative authority to increase personal wealth. Multinational corporations are measured in terms of bribes requested or required for authorization of public contracts, very often in the construction and arms industries, and kickbacks paid after operations begin.
In reverse, multinational corporations are not always as concerned about contracts as they are about purchasing influence through bribery to affect pending or changing legislation. Restricting competition is as corrupt as purchasing public contracts and is clearly an activity of interest to the global analysts at Transparency International. In most of the smaller and often poorer nations of the world the government uses a comprehensive set of bribery initiatives to enhance the personal wealth of both individuals within the government and the ruling elites.
Transparency International is clearly perceived as an altruistic venture and the CPI is still used by leaders in various governmental levels to assess problems within its jurisdictions. But the lack of proportional legal application makes the process of controlling for international corruption difficult, at best, and often ineffective in terms of rectifying widespread governmental and corporate corruption in areas where many multinational corporations are competing for operational authority in a nation with a highly centralized systemically corrupt government.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have admitted in the past few years that corruption is clearly an obstacle to repairing the world economy, but the two financial institutions have not escaped their own corruption criticism. Just because international financiers recognize the problems that corruption creates does not preclude them from being complicit in some measure.
Finally, the whole idea of "transparency" as a methodology of making democracy more effective is a kind of power elite promotion. The idea is that the current statist environment can be improved by well-meaning people along with tenacious watchdogs of government corruption. This is simply not true. What is needed is FREEDOM from government, not statist transparency. In large part, the transparency meme is merely a way to redirect attention from the West's growing manifestations of authoritarianism as Western middle classes are leveled under a steamroller named "Democracy."