We warmly welcome a new intern here at the DC office. Thomas Hannan joins us for the fall from sunny California, where he is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at UCLA.
Carrie Golden (CG): What made you interested in Global Integrity?
Tom Hannan (TH): I study governmental and political corruption, so I was extremely interested in learning much more about the work that Global Integrity does, especially in compiling the data for the Global Integrity Report and the Africa Integrity Indicators. I am also curious about how organizations and individuals actually use the wealth of data that Global Integrity collects and to see where, when, and how the data is most effective in bringing about change.
CG: What were you doing prior to joining Global Integrity?
TH: I was—and still am—a PhD student in the sociology department at UCLA. Earlier, I did my undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences (which was mostly sociology, mixed with some anthropology, politics, and a spot of psychology) at the University of Cambridge. Before that, I was tossing cabers, wearing kilts, and eating haggis back in Scotland, where I’m from.
CG: What do you hope to gain from your experience here?
TH: Well, I want to find out how corruption can be mitigated by putting in place various types of institutional safeguards against corruption and by systematically collecting and disseminating detailed, specific data on corruption within and across individual countries. But I also want to contribute to Global Integrity’s mission and projects in any and all ways that I can, as well as learning from the vast experience and diverse professional backgrounds of all the staff here. Through this I hope to stumble upon a whole new bunch of things to become fascinated by that I otherwise would never have known about.
CG: Have you ever experienced corruption first hand?
TH: Off the top of my head I can’t think of specific egregious examples, apart from the obvious ones that probably happen to most people, like getting passed over for a job because of nepotism or having an unscrupulous landlord that tried to keep too much of my security deposit after I moved out of an apartment. But I do think we all probably experience corruption first hand far more frequently than we might think. We just don’t realize it because a great deal of corruption is probably never uncovered and brought to light.
CG: What books or journal articles have helped shaped your professional path?
TH: In my early days in graduate school, John Meyer and his colleagues’ 1997 article, “World Society and the Nation-State,” in the American Journal of Sociology, turned my way of thinking upside-down, as did David Frank and John Meyer’s 2007 article in Theory and Society, “University Expansion and the Knowledge Society.”
I also like Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s Poor Economics (2011) a lot, simply for making the obvious but often overlooked point that we must always ask, then seek to rigorously answer, a simple question of any development initiative: does it work?
And Albert O. Hirschman’s Development Projects Observed (1967) is an oldie but a goodie.
Finally, an article I keep coming back to is Daniel Chambliss’s “The Mundanity of Excellence” (1989, Sociological Theory). He argues persuasively and profoundly that across a wide range of fields—elite sports, business, academia, etc.—what separates the superstars from us mere mortals is excellence from a series of small, in themselves unremarkable and eminently doable (in a word, mundane) steps and from the power of habit: they make small adjustments to their work practices and do those things every day without fanfare as part of the routine of their ordinary lives.
CG: Are you on Twitter?
TH: No! I think I’m the only person left in America without a smartphone so if I used Twitter I would only be able to tweet when I’m sitting in front of a computer, which most likely would mean I’m working. So my tweets would be very boring indeed. Having said that, my tweets would probably be pretty boring even when I’m not at work.
–Tom Hannan and Carrie Golden