Roxana Toma, recent doctoral graduate in Public Administration, earned second place in the Social Sciences and Management category in this spring’s Graduate Student Research Symposium, with her poster presentation entitled, “Administrative Corruption in Post-Communist Transition: Measurement and Implications for Romania.”
Toma earned a B.Sc. in Economics from The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Romania, in 1998. After briefly attending Georgetown University’s Department of Economics as a Ph.D. student, she relocated to North Carolina, where she continued her doctoral studies in Public Administration at NC State. She worked as a teaching assistant, and later as an adjunct faculty member teaching Research Methodology of Political Science.
Her research interests include cross-national studies of corruption, international studies of bureaucratic and administrative behavior, and democratization in post-communist Europe.
So, it was only natural that Toma’s dissertation (and Symposium poster) analyzed perceptions of corruption in the Romanian civil service and the factors that facilitated these perceptions. “While most of the literature treats administrative corruption as a principal-agent problem between the state and government employees, my research employed social capital theory to investigate corruption in the context of cultural factors that are associated with general apathy and dysfunctional social capital,” said Toma.
“My research indicates that people’s perceptions of corruption are influenced by what is considered widespread and approved behavior in the society. Therefore, anyone wishing to diminish corruption should particularly attempt to shape civic attitudes, using education, television campaigns and other approaches to help citizens see that honesty is more widespread than they might believe.”
Toma also suggests that “. . . the government needs to aggressively publicize its anticorruption efforts, because this will lead to a greater reservoir of positive social capital.” This becomes even more relevant today when corruption scandals involving public officials are everywhere. Toma’s additional contribution to solving these issues is her “. . . dissertation’s research design [which] is structured to help produce actionable findings.”
Placing second in her category at this year’s Symposium was especially sweet since Toma had never designed a poster based on her research. She said that she found the experience rather challenging. “However, while the visuals are important I am a strong believer that it is the way you present that makes the difference,” she said.
When not researching and teaching, Toma fills her ‘down time’ with all sorts of activities: traveling, reading, watching documentaries, taking long walks, gardening, hiking, kayaking, skiing, cooking gourmet food, and listening to classical music -- especially violin.
Any word of advice for her student colleagues? Toma has two suggestions. “Find an advisor who cares, and who takes a lot of responsibility. [And, second,] teach, teach, teach. You will find no higher fulfillment than in the classroom.”
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