23 Oct 2015

Curbing Corruption: Ideas that Work

ccreportThe Legatum Institute launched a new collection of successful anti-corruption case studies. The series titled “Curbing Corruption: Ideas that Work” is published jointly by the Legatum Institute and Democracy Lab. It presents a wide range of case studies illustrating what does and what doesn’t work in the field of anti-corruption. The study wants to stimulate a discussion on corruption “that draws on implemented policies, lived experience and specific details,” according to Christian Caryl, Managing Editor of Democracy Lab and Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute. By doing so it wants to avoid the pitfall of generalising anti-corruption policies, which often only work in specific contexts and addresses a particular form of corruption.

The eleven case studies take the reader into different corners of the world and into a large spectrum of anti-corruption success stories. Christopher Eglund and Johan Engvall, for example, are looking at the reforms of the education system in Georgia after the 2003 ‘Rose Revolution’. They describe the ‘big bang’ approach of sweeping reforms introduce by Alexander Lomaia, the new minister of education and science. They turned the Georgian education system around into one that values academic performance and integrity. In another case study Richard E. Messick looks at the FBI agents that uncovered a web of corruption in Chicago’s court system. He describes how they used fake trials and informants to tackle deeply ingrained court corruption. Anna Petherick analyses the case of Brazil where authorities tried to reign in on corruption on the municipality level with ‘audit SWAT teams’ performing surprise audits of municipalities. A lottery decides which municipalities are going to be audited; this way all mayors know the next audit could be in their constituencies.

These are just three out of the eleven case studies presented by the Democracy Lab and the Legatum Institute. They illustrate the broad range of cases covered in the Curbing Corruption series. The reports were launched in September with a panel discussion titled “Fixing the Fight Against Corruption”, held at the Legatum Institute in London. The panelists stressed that there is now easy fix for corruption and that solutions always have to be adapted to local environments. The case studies give plenty of food for thought in this context. Naturally the evidence they convey remains anecdotal. Yet, they spark a debate about potential policy solutions. In the end, this is exactly why they were commissioned.