18 Nov 2014

When Will the Next Walls Fall?

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi on Breaking the Walls of Corruption

November 9, 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of the end of the division between East and West and the start of a major transformation in Europe. This same day, the Falling Walls Foundation held their annual conference on breakthroughs in society and science in Berlin, “Which are the next walls to fall?” This is the 5th Falling Walls conference, which is always held to coincide with the fall of the Berlin wall.

ERCAS director, Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi gave a talk on breaking down walls of corruption at the Falling Walls Conference in front of a wide audience of thought leaders in international science, policy, media and distinguished researchers. Professor Mungiu-Pippidi was amongst a distinguished group of internationally renowned scientists invited to present their work from a variety of fields including art, architecture, medicine, technology, psychiatry and physics.

Photo Credit: Falling Walls Foundation

Mungiu-Pippidi’s talk “Bringing Down the Wall of Corruption” was a lesson on institutional change in countries, which as she notes are the majority in the world, where corruption is the norm and not the exception. She emphasized the dampening effect corruption has on innovation and the extent to which poor control of corruption leads to higher levels of brain drain, as talented individuals leave their home countries for work or study in less corruption places. Good control of corruption, on the other hand, leads to higher levels of press freedom and in EU countries in particular, higher levels of public trust in Brussels.

Mungiu-Pippidi summarized current work in the ANTICORRP project which is basically analyzing how successful countries managed to evolve from a system with particularistic distribution of resources toward one with more universalistic distribution. She also brought to bear on the significance of having more accurate measurements of corruption, noting that some indicators deliver misleading results.

She argued for the need to move beyond perception-based indicators and highlighted the pioneering work of ANTICORRP researchers in developing new, data-based indicators to measure the corruption risk in public procurement tender processes.

Also on Professor Mungiu-Pippidi’s panel were: Jürgen Mlynek (Helmholtz Association), Zahava Solomon (Tel Aviv University), Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University) and Christof Koch (Allen Institute for Brain Science).

The opening panel of the conference was with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sebastian Turner (Falling Walls Foundation), Michael Eissenhauer (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and David Chipperfield (David Chipperfield Architects) who hinted at the global reach and interdisciplinary depth of the talks to follow.

A talk of Professor Mungiu-Pippidi’s talk is available below and at the Falling Walls Foundation website:

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi – Breaking the Wall of Corruption @Falling Walls 2014 from Falling Walls on Vimeo.