About Matthew Stephenson

Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Anticorruption Bibliography–September 2022 Update

Hi everyone, As some of you have noticed, GAB has been on a longer-than-usual summer break, but we will be back to getting new content up on a regular basis soon. In the meantime, I’m happy to say than an updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is now available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable form at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Andrii Borovyk and Gretta Fenner

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available.I know that I said in the post announcing the episode from a couple weeks back that that one would be the last post before our summer vacation, but I spoke too soon–last week I had the opportunity to speak with Andrii Borovyk, the Executive Director of Transparency International’s Ukraine chapter, and Gretta Fenner, the Managing Director of the Basel Institute on Governance, about addressing corruption risks inherent in emergency aid to Ukraine during the current conflict and the anticipated future infusion of funds to assist with post-war reconstruction. (Full disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors for Transparency International Ukraine, an unpaid position, and in that capacity I have worked with Andrii, though not directly on this issue.) After sharing their respective backgrounds in the field, Andrii and Gretta discuss how Russia’s aggression affected anticorruption advocacy work within Ukraine, and emphasize the importance for both domestic and international actors to strengthen institutions and mechanisms to prevent corruption in aid and reconstruction efforts. The conversation touches on, among other things, the challenges of pushing an anticorruption agenda in a time of national emergency, the role that aid conditionalities can play in promoting effective reform, and the importance of open, accessible, and centralized public information repositories. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: This really will be the last podcast episode before we go on summer break, but we will be releasing new episodes in September. The Global Anticorruption Blog is also going to go on summer hiatus during August, though I may post occasionally if something particularly important and time-sensitive comes up. As always, I’ll remind you that KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN), encourage you to subscribe, and invite you to suggest for people or topics you’d like to hear on the podcast by sending me a message.

Anticorruption Bibliography–July 2022 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable form at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Mihaly Fazekas

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In the new episode, my ICRN colleagues Nils Kobis and Christopher Starke interview Mihaly Fazekas, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Central European University. Professor Fazekas explains how he became interested in the study of corruption and describes some of his lines of research, including his work on measurement of corruption, particularly in the context of public procurement, and the challenges of scaling up the best corruption measures. The interview also covers additional topics such as the role of investigative journalism in fighting corruption, and the anticorruption potential impact of new technologies, including big data analysis and artificial intelligence.

You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations:

A quick note: We will be going on summer break, so we will not be releasing any new episodes over the next six weeks, but KickBack will return with new episodes in September. KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Guest Post: C4I’s New Index Illuminates the Need for Reform of State-Level Campaign Finance Rules in the U.S.

Today’s guest post comes from Shruti Shah, President and CEO of the Coalition for Integrity (C41), together with Laurie Sherman, C4I’s Policy Advisor, and Stephanie Camhi, a C4I external consultant.

Anticorruption and good governance advocates, in the United States and elsewhere, have long been concerned with the potentially corrupting influence of campaign donations and other political spending on public policy. (Indeed, although the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed political spending to be a form of “speech” protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Court has also recognized the prevention of corruption, or its appearance, as one of the few interests sufficiently compelling to justify campaign finance laws that limit such spending.) Much of the discussion of the campaign finance issue in the United States focuses on federal elections, yet concerns about the corrupting effect of campaign donations are just as important in state-level elections. State elected officials—legislators, governors, and other elected executive branch officials—play a vital role in creating and implementing public policy, and these officials decide how to spend trillions of dollars on roads, health, education, welfare, and other programs. And money continues to flow into state races in record-breaking amounts. Yet the potential for corruption—both illegal corruption and the “softer” corruption associated with undue access and influence for large donors—does not receive as much attention at the state level as at the federal level.

State-level political candidates must follow campaign finance laws written and enforced by the state, and states vary greatly in terms of the content and quality of their campaign finance systems. To highlight the variance across states in campaign finance laws, and to provide more information to voters and reformers, the Coalition for Integrity (C4I) created the first State Campaign Finance Index analyzing the campaign finance laws and regulations in all fifty states and District of Columbia. The Index assigns states scores based on several factors that, in C4I’s judgment, constitute best practices. The most important factors are as follows: Continue reading

Guest Post: Anticorruption Recommendations for the Ukraine Recovery Conference

Today’s guest post is from Gretta Fenner, Managing Director of the Basel Institute on Governance, and Andrii Borovyk, Executive Director of Transparency International Ukraine.

Today and tomorrow, delegates from around the world are gathering at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, and we hope that this conference will result in firm pledges by the international community to finance Ukraine’s post-war recovery and reconstruction. But as readers of this blog are well aware, huge infusions of money into countries recovering from war or natural disasters are a tempting target for kleptocrats, organized criminal groups, and other corrupt actors. And although Ukraine has steadily strengthened its anticorruption defenses since 2014, those defenses are not yet sufficiently robust to ensure reconstruction funds are spent with integrity.

For this reason, the Basel Institute on Governance and Transparency International Ukraine are advocating that the Ukraine Recovery Conference, and any future efforts to provide reconstruction funding for Ukraine, embrace a set of anticorruption measures to be integrated into the reconstruction process. The recommended measures include, among others:

  • prioritizing the leadership selection process and reforms of Ukraine’s anticorruption institutions, including courts;
  • using transparent procurement systems, such as Ukraine’s award-winning e-procurement system Prozorro, for reconstruction projects; and
  • strengthening asset recovery systems so that money stolen through corruption in the past can be used to help fuel reconstruction efforts.

You can see the full recommendations here in English (and here in Ukrainian ), and you can also download a shorter infographic that summarizes the key points.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Michel Sapin and Valentina Lana

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this episode, I interview Michel Sapin, who served in several senior positions in the French government (including as Minister of Finance from 1992-1993 and again from 2014-2017), and Valentina Lana, a French lawyer, compliance consultant, and lecturer at the Sciences Po Law Faculty in Paris. Our conversation focuses principally on the major legislative reform to French anticorruption law known as the Loi Sapin II (named for M. Sapin), which was adopted in December 2016 and went into effect in 2017. We discuss the changes in the political and economic environment that led to the passage of this law–which represented a dramatic shift in the French government’s approach to transnational bribery–and the impact that the law has had during the five-plus years that it has been in effect. My guests emphasize the positive impacts that the law has had in France, how it differs from the approach taken by the US and the UK, and how France and other countries should move forward on the anticorruption fight in the years to come. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Anticorruption Bibliography–June 2022 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable form at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

Guest Post: Oversight of Beneficial Owners Can Strengthen Integrity in the Transition to Renewable Energy

Today’s guest post is from Alanna Markle, a Policy and Research Associate at Open Ownership, and Erica Westenberg, the Governance Programs Director at the Natural Resource Governance Institute.

The transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources is crucial to the health of the planet. Yet the renewables sector is likely to face political, social, and governance challenges—including risks of corruption and conflict of interest—similar to those that have been observed in extractive industries and other sectors. One of the tools that anticorruption advocates have emphasized as crucial across sectors—transparency regarding the true beneficial owners of private companies—may be highly important in addressing corruption and conflict of interest risks in the sustainable energy transition for several reasons: Continue reading

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Ray Fisman

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this episode, I had the opportunity to interview Boston University Professor Ray Fisman, one of the world’s foremost economists working on corruption and related topics. In our conversation, Professor Fisman and I cover a range of topics related to his research, including the impact of corruption on economic development, the distinctions among different kinds of corruption (and their different effects), the human costs of corruption, and the hidden influence of political connections. Professor Fisman also discusses the conversations that inspired and shaped his research agenda, and the advice that he would offer up-and-coming scholars interested in exploring this set of topics. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.