CORRUPTION: Conceptualization and Measures

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 11:41..
Институт проблем правоприменения
Lucio Picci; University of Bologna


Lucio Picci (University of Bologna)

Conceptualization and Measures

Lectures at the European University at St. Peterbsurg
April 18, 6:00 pm


Corruption is a multi-faceted phenomenon that in the course of history has received different definitions, some of them rather narrow, like those equating it with bribe-taking, and some of a more general nature and often possessing strong moral undertones, as when the concept is applied to a social body, social class, and even historical era. Such ambiguity of meaning contributes in explaining why measuring corruption is difficult. A second obvious reason for such observed difficulty is that corrupt activities, that in most cases belong to the realm of criminal justice, are kept hidden by their perpetrators.

Notwithstanding such inherent difficulties, the task of measuring corruption is very instructive. On the one hand, it provides a “measure of our ignorance”, and a motivation for prudence trying to assess its level and, even more so, how it may change in time. On the other hand, and possibly more importantly, it offers a route to organize our thoughts on the phenomenon of corruption as a whole, and to propose a conceptualization of corruption – both illegal, and legal.

Some concrete examples suggest that corruption should not be seen as a perversion of governance, but as one of its constituent characteristic and, sometimes, as one of its instruments – albeit, one which is very damaging to society as a whole.


Short Bio

Lucio Picci (Ph.D., University of California at San Diego) is a full professor of Economics at the University of Bologna, Italy. His research is at the intersection between political economy, public governance, and the economics of technological innovation, and he is particularly interested in the problem of corruption and in the role of reputation-based incentives in public policy.

Dr. Picci has worked for international organizations, such as the European Commission and the World Bank, and for various administrations in the Italian government, including the Prime Minister’s Office. He is currently collaborating with the Italian National Anti-Corruption Authority on a project aimed at assessing the risk of corruption.

His research work has been published in academic journals such as the “American Journal of Political Science”, “Journal of Business & Economic Statistics”, “Research Policy”, “The Review of Economics and Statistics”, and “The World Bank Economic Review”. His book Reputation-based Governance (Stanford University Press, 2011) proposes a model of public governance based on strong reputation-based incentives. His latest book (with Alberto Vannucci; in Italian) is titled “Zen and the Art of Fighting Corruption ”.