I guess I’m engaging in the “ritual slaying of the elders” in which professors often indulge. Having gone after Paolo Mauro in an earlier post, here I want to take on (a small part) of Robert Klitgaard’s work.
Klitgaard, who is one of the giants of academic anticorruption research over the last half-century, once pithily (and influentially) summed up his perspective on the causes of corruption in a “corruption formula”: C = M + D – A, or (to put this back into words): “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability.” (The formula originally appeared in Klitgaard’s
1975 1988 book, Controlling Corruption. You can find a more recent version here.) Much as I respect Klitgaard’s work, I think this anticorruption “formula” is not merely trite, but affirmatively misleading and therefore dangerous.