Öppet seminarium

CUSP: Controlling Corruption. The Social Contract Approach

Datum: 4 juni 2021
Tid: 15:15-16:30

Welcome to the first lecture in the new series CUSP - Critically Urgent Societal Problems - that we arrange in collaboration with the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS) in Uppsala.

At this first lecture in the series Bo Rothstein will present his new book Controlling Corruption: The Social Contract Approach.

Since the late 1990s, the detrimental effects of corruption on human well-being have become well established in research. This has resulted in a stark increase in anti-corruption programs launched by international and national development organizations. Despite these efforts, evaluations of the effects of these anti-corruption programs have been disappointing

The argument in this book is that this huge policy failure can be explained by three factors. Firstly, the corruption problem has been poorly conceptualized. Secondly, the problem has been located in the wrong social spaces. It is neither a cultural nor a legal problem. Instead, it is for the most part located in what organization theory defines as the 'standard operating procedures' in social organizations. Thirdly, the general theory that has dominated anti-corruption efforts — the principal-agent theory — is based on serious misspecification of the basic nature of the problem. The book presents a reconceptualization of corruption and a new theory — drawing on the tradition of the social contract.

Bo Rothstein holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at the University of Gothenburg and is co-founder of the Quality of Government (QoG) Institute at this department. During 2016 and 2017 he served as Professor of Government and Public Policy at the University of Oxford – Nuffield College. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, Harvard University, University of Washington-Seattle, Cornell University, the Australian National University and Stanford University. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences. Among his publications are Making Sense of Corruption (together with Aiysha Varraich, Cambridge University Press 2017), The Quality of Government (University of Chicago Press 2011), and Social Traps and the Problem of Trust (Cambridge University Press 2005). His latest book, titled Controlling Corruption: The Social Contract Approach, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2021.


The CUSP Lecture Series is an arena for addressing big societal challenges of our time: social, political, cultural, economic, environmental, and/or medical. In a collaborative effort to give voice to urgent societal problems, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS) and Institute for Futures Studies (IFFS) invite academics, policy-makers, artists, and other actors to publicly address such global concerns.

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