Systemic corruption in Mexican high schools: fear and favoritism undermine teacher performance

Author(s) : Cerecedo-Mercado, María Trinidad; Topete-Barrera, Carlos; Cardoso-Espinosa, Edgar Oliver

Imprint : 2016

Collation : 23 p.

Series : Impact Factor 3.582 Case Studies Journal ISSN (2305-509X), Volume 5, Issue 2, February 2016

Systemic corruption in educational institutions, according to the literature, tends to result from monopoly power in oneperson decision-making organs (implying inadequate accountability mechanisms). The present study aimed to evaluate the exercise of power in a large public high school system in Mexico with well-reported poor educational outcome. Based on 27 in-depth interviews, there was abundant evidence of systemic corruption, in which the promotion of self-interest apparently takes priority over the educational mission. Consequently, an analysis was made of the mechanisms of a selfinterested management style that are reportedly most detrimental to educational objectives. In this sense, the interviews strongly suggest that fraud is only a secondary mechanism, and that three mechanisms based on fear and favoritism undermine the academic initiative of teachers as well as the quality of academic programs: (i) favoritism is the main criteria for hiring/promoting teachers and selecting principals; ii) an atmosphere of fear, imposed by self-serving principals to protect corruption-derived benefits, causes many teachers to adopt a psychological self-protection mechanism, which begins with the avoidance of criticism of anti-pedagogical policies and eventually leads to a minimum effort in all professional activities; (iii) a self-serving management style triggers a power struggle by strengthening opportunistic coalitions; these self-serving groups prioritize political convenience in curriculum development and involve many teachers in the promotion of self-interest.


  • Corruption, Bribery, Favoritism, Fraud, Educational management, Teachers, Teacher promotion, Teacher recruitment, Secondary education
  • Mexico