Corrupt countries were more likely to support the OOXML document format

Continuing the news from yesterday, here’s another piece from Ville Oksanen of EFFI (Finland)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rejected the fast-track approval of the controversial Microsoft-supported OOXML document format as an ISO standard in a vote on 2 September 2007.


During the voting process the reputation of ISO as a dependable technical standardization organization was questioned. For example, in Sweden a Microsoft representative was caught offering to recompense partners for voting yes to OOXML. Also a sudden interest from countries like Ivory Coast to the OOXML issue has been found suspicious.

We studied the relation between the corruption level and voting behaviours of the countries. We found that more corrupted the country is, the more likely it was to vote for the unreserved acceptance of the OOXML standard proposal.

We used the 2006 CPI index (Corruption Perceptions Index) as a measure of corruption. CPI index is a number between 1 and 10. A small CPI index means that the country is perceived to be very corrupted, while a large CPI index means that the country is perceived to have little corruption. Haiti has the smallest CPI index of 1.8, while the countries perceived having the least amount of corruption (Finland, Iceland, New Zealand) have a CPI index of 9.7. In barplots below the CPI index has been rounded down to the closest integer value.

ISO received a total of 87 votes, of which 70 was given either by the Secretariat country (USA), participating members (“P Member”) or observers (“O Member”). In various stages of the voting only these 70 votes are taken into account, according to the complicated voting rules of ISO, and therefore in the graphs below only these 70 votes are shown. The remaining 17 countries – which are perceived to be relatively corrupted (median CPI index 3.0) – mostly supported the OOXML (approval 13, approval with comments 2, abstention 0, disapproval 2).

Is this just a random coincidence?
The median of the CPI index of the above mentioned 70 countries is 3.95. Of the most corrupted half (CPI index less than 3.95)
23 or 77% voted for approval (approval or approval with comments) and 7 or 23% for disapproval; 5 abstained. Of the least corrupted half (CPI index more than 3.95) 13 or 54% voted for approval and 11 or 46% voted for disapproval; 11 abstained – see the table below. This statistics supports with a P value of 0.07328 the hypothesis that the corrupted countries were more likely to vote for approval (one-tailed Fisher’s Exact test).
In other words, simplified a bit:
the likelihood that there was no positive correlation between the corruption level and probability of an approval vote, that is, this is just a random effect, is about 7%.

One should be careful in interpreting the result, though. For example, the statistical test naturally does not tell anything about the reasons of the connection between the corruption level and the probability of an approval vote.

Lots of corruption Little corruption
Approval 23 13
Disapproval 7 11

I can only add that Bulgaria is listed in the CPI under number 57, with CPI 4.0.

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