Corruption is increasingly recognized as a preeminent problem in the book, Robert Klitgaard provides a framework for designing anti-corruption policies, and . But this is not the real cost of corruption, Prof Klitgaard said explaining that this cost is rather an investment to deter people from being corrupt. Stephanie Coïc. Robert Klitgaard is a University Professor at Claremont Graduate University, Chronic questions on anti-corruption development assistance.

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You can find a more recent version here. I have no quarrel with the claim that some forms of corruption arise when officials are given sole power to make consequential decisions without adequate oversight or control. Wilson explains in Bureaucracy why procurement agencies corrkption be condemned to operate with tight controls on their discretion. The outcome of a procurement — a road built on time to spec, photocopying paper purchased at the lowest price — is often readily observable whereas the process by which the outcome klittaard achieved is not.

If the procuring entity were a private firm, no one would care how the entity achieved the klitgaarx so long as it was a good one. Not so with public entities. Nor would anyone else.

Not so with a public procurement. Just a couple of quick points. The book wasnot The value of the formula in my experience is to help policymakers and citizens reframe corruption.

Klitgaard’s Misleading “Corruption Formula” | GAB | The Global Anticorruption Blog

In contexts where culture is blamed or immorality is asserted, sometimes feelings of futility follow. Reminding people first with examples and then with some simple models that corrupt systems can be improved by changing the calculations of the officials, businesses, and citizens embedded in them: And can be the first step toward creative problem-solving.

The discussion of the principal-agent-client model in your book, along with suggestions for policymakers, is rich, nuanced, and deservedly influential even if I might take issue with some of the particulars.

I think, in retrospect, I was reacting as much or more to these subsequent invocations of the formula as to the original. Oh, and speaking of the original source, my apologies for getting the date of the book wrong. That was a careless error on my part, and I will fix it. One more thing, not directly on point but triggered by your comment: I think this may be the subject of a future post. While this is an obvious issue, the lack of proper consideration for anti-corruption reform mechanisms belong more to the s area of scholarly production, when there was the need to identify policy measures.


However, we currently are more than familiar with a large body of good-practices and anti-corruption toolboxes, and still see corruption engrained in the political elite of most developing countries.

Therefore, we should understand that the problem is one of implementation, and not of technical knowledge. The principal-agent approach, in particularly, heavily relies on the pre-existence of some level of political will already in place at the domestic level; when it comes to the point of reforming national anti-corruption structures and standards, it consistently becomes intuitive as to how exactly those measures are ocrruption be adopted, and by whom.

At the core of this deficit stands a problem with the way we have been understanding political will for anti-corruption corru;tion, traditionally addressing it by offering political capital in return. This approach, however, is greatly flawed as it forgets that political capital is the main incentive only for relatively honest authorities, while leaders invested in corrupt activities include in their calculations the amount of profits from illegal activities that anti-corruption measures challenge.

Therefore, considerations regarding both political capital and corrupt profits should be engrained in discussions of reform, as they will combine vorruption the level of political will present in domestic settings. I hope this comment which draws from my doctoral dissertation stimulates a deeper discussion on the best way to approach corruption from a policy and political perspective.

These are empirical flaws. There are conceptual problems with the formula as well. Nor does the relationship between monopoly and discretion appear to be additive. So what does it mean to add a part to the whole? It focuses policymakers on what can be done to curb corruption: Offering decision-makers a way forward, particularly in high corruption environments where resigned acceptance is always a tempting option, is no mean feat.

No wonder the formula continues to attract adherents. For sure, author had no real experience with systematic, state-level corruption. Thanks for the comment.

Controlling Corruption by Robert Klitgaard – Paperback – University of California Press

Constructive criticism is always welcome! I would we rather appreciated that the same way good governance is a function of many factors, corruption too is a factor of many variables in which case there is little chance that we could peg the causes for the same on the sum total of the factors on one divide.

You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. The claim that monopoly increases corruption, so therefore more competition via decentralization or privatization will reduce corruption; The claim that discretion causes corruption, so therefore tight controls based on formal criteria, which leave little room for individual officials to make discretionary judgment calls, will reduce corruption; and The claim that accountability reduces corruption, so therefore more accountability more oversight, or more democratic checks, or what have you will reduce corruption.


Such reforms would include: Without going into details here though I may in a future post, especially if readers are interestedthis research does not conclude that replacing monopolies with competition always lowers competition. Sometimes it does, but sometimes competition can increase corruption. For example, a firm inclined to pay bribes can shop for corrupt bureaucrats. For another, competition among jurisdictions can lead them to compete to offer the most attractive opportunities for corruption.

Klitgaard’s Misleading “Corruption Formula”

And klitgaar record of privatization of government services in reducing corruption is, to put it charitably, spotty. Government officials who have too much discretion can abuse it. But government officials who have too little formal discretion may be more inclined to bend or ignore rules that are seem foolish, inefficient, and contrary to prevailing social norms.

In other words, while some forms of corruption involve wrongfully exercising lawful discretion, other forms of corruption involve violating formal constraints on discretion. Making those constraints tighter may reduce the former kind of corruption but exacerbate the latter kind. Moreover, overemphasizing rigid constraints on official discretion may lead to worse decisions because discretion, despite its costs, also has the important benefits of allowing officials to tailor their decisions to the nuances of particular situations, and to adapt over time.

Constraining discretion may also have adverse effects on the sorts of people who pursue careers in government service—which may in turn worsen corruption. But if what we mean by increasing accountability is subjecting officials to more rigorous oversight and control—either by hierarchically superior government officials or by the public via democratic elections or media scrutiny or whatever other accountability mechanisms we might imagine —then it is not at all obvious that more accountability necessarily leads to less corruption.

Thanks very much for your comment.

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