TED Conversations

Anil Rajvanshi

This conversation is closed.

Debate: Is corruption a moral or a legal issue?

Too often the corruption debate and discussions all over the world are focused on how somebody broke a law. By that definition Mahatma Gandhi was the most corrupt man since he periodically broke British laws!

By dictionary definition corruption relates to doing things which are not ethical.

Hence how should the corruption be defined and fought for greater good?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 8 2012: Corruption has been my research topic for decades, both in and out of academia. Why corruption is still alive and well today as it was, say, 50 years ago? In part because it is treated as either a legal or moral issue, leaving out other possibilities. But in fact corruption is a management/governance issue and it would be easier to solve it if we understood that.

    Look, the government structure can be corrupt from top to bottom and EVERYBODY there might work not according to the written law, but according to "informal law" (the understanding of how the things really work). Then, the "understanding" is the real law. And if the population agrees with it, fine... If, however, only SOME of the people in the power structure are corrupt, especially not the top boss (the president or equivalent who is usually elected by their "boss" - the people - who don't want corruption) then it is just a managerial problem: all that is needed is that every manager from the president down effectively monitors that his subordinates are not cheating, stealing, or breaking the laws in the myriad ways they can... Don't you agree?

    I'll tell you more: the normal pyramidal structures on which we rely from the times of pharaohs are not made for effective monitoring/management. They are long obsolete even in the military, which has been emulated by bureaucracies. Instead, these power pyramids are very well suited for supervisory incompetence of bosses and wrongdoing by subordinates. The agency theory, properly understood, will lead you to the same conclusion. (See my quip on it in the Financial Times: http://on.ft.com/dnSJAa )

    Change the subordination/management structure to a much better one, and you'll wipe out corruption in a blink of historic eye... As manager, I've done it in organizations in the matter of weeks and days. You can do the same everywhere and be a new mini-Gandhi - clearing away legal gunk of the past and profiting, too.



Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.