As most readers of this blog are likely aware, Transparency International (TI) is the world’s leading advocacy organization focused specifically on fighting corruption. In addition to the important advocacy work done by the TI Secretariat and TI’s many national chapters, Transparency International has also played an important role in producing and supporting a variety of research activities.
Word on the street is that Transparency International is in the middle of some sort of internal reorganization. It’s apparently a complicated situation, and while I certainly don’t know much about the details (particularly concerning matters like German labor law), some of my academic colleagues have raised concerns about the possible implications of the reorganization for TI’s research capacity. In response to these concerns, a group of academics sent a letter (which I signed) to the TI Board of Directors, emphasizing the important contributions of the TI Secretariat’s research team. Although these “insider” organizational issues might not be of interest to all our readers, I thought that some of you might be interested, and perhaps might also like to make your voices heard, so I am providing (with the permission of those responsible for drafting and sending the letter) the full text of the letter here:
Dear José Ugaz and fellow members of the TI Board of Directors,
We are writing as senior academics who work in the field of corruption, and who have worked with, or otherwise made use of research materials produced by, the TI Secretariat over many years.
It is our understanding that the TI Secretariat is in the process of an internal reorganisation, and whilst we would not presume to understand fully all of the factors and options being considered, we do wish to place on record our view that TI-S has played a key role and has been a key player in promoting evidence-based research conducted both within the organisation and in collaboration with external partners.
Over the past two decades, TI-S has been central to raising awareness of the issue of corruption through its flagship research outputs such as the Corruption Perceptions Index and the Global Corruption Barometer. Even if several of us have been critical of particular aspects of this research, we all agree that these tools, among others produced by your former Advocacy and Research Division, have played an absolutely fundamental role in agenda-setting and advocacy work. Moreover, your evidence-based anti-corruption work, backed by research conducted both within the organisation and in collaboration with external partners is one of the key factors that turned TI into the prominent international NGO it is today.
It is clear to all of us that without its commitment to research, and the quality and independence that research leaders in TI-S have helped ensure in national-level research and knowledge activities, TI would not have achieved its global profile, nor have been able to pursue many of its key policy and communications strategies.
We would all be diminished by the loss of any research capacity within TI-S. In a period of widespread political uncertainty, now more than ever we need TI’s commitment to fighting corruption to be backed by the kind of evidence-based research that has been such a hallmark of its rise to global prominence over recent decades.
We stand ready to assist TI with its future research strategies and very much hope, and trust, that the new TI Secretariat will not only retain core capacities to enable this to happen, but provide enhanced opportunities for game-changing knowledge development in support of the international anti-corruption movement.
Professor AJ Brown, Griffith University, Australia
Professor Martin J Bull, University of Salford, UK
Professor Carl Dahlström, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Professor Donatella Della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore Pisa, Italy
Professor Miriam Golden, UCLA, USA
Professor Ting Gong, City University, Hong Kong
Professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff, University of Passau, Germany
Professor Adam Graycar, Flinders University, Australia
Professor Paul M Heywood, University of Nottingham, UK
Professor Dan Hough, University of Sussex, UK
Professor Leo Huberts, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
Professor Emeritus Michael Johnston, Colgate University, USA
Professor Mushtaq Khan, SOAS, UK
Professor Mark Knights, University of Warwick, UK
Professor Alena Ledeneva, UCL, UK
Professor Melanie Manion, Duke University, USA
Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Hertie School of Governance, Germany
Professor Mark Philp, University of Warwick, UK
Professor Mark Pieth, University of Basel, Switzerland
Professor Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University, USA
Professor Bo Rothstein, University of Oxford, UK
Professor Mitchell A Seligson, Vanderbilt University, USA
Professor Tina Søreide, Norwegian School of Economics, Norway
Professor Matthew Stephenson, Harvard University, USA
Professor Davide Torsello, Central European University, Hungary
Professor Daniel Treisman, UCLA, USA
Professor Eric M Uslaner, University of Maryland, USA
Professor Carolyn Warner, Arizona State University, USA
Professor Mark Warren, University of British Columbia, Canada
Professor Dominik Zaum, University of Reading, UK