Dealing With Systemic Corruption


A Discussion with Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama, Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow; Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Mosbacher Director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law; and Stanford University Professor of Political Science

September 19, 2016

As states attempt to make the difficult transition from patrimonial societies to modern forms of government, the problem of corruption is often the biggest obstacle, said the Foreign Policy Institute's Francis Fukuyama at a discussion hosted by the International Development program. 

Corruption can be overcome, however, through grassroots movements, efficient top-level leadership, and an intellectual movement to guide future policy. Using the nations of Georgia, Indonesia and the United States as case studies, Fukuyama discussed how reforms can be successfully achieved to challenge the status quo of corruption. In each example reforms were pursued in a political process from within the system, a key feature that led Fukuyama to argue that this process cannot be initiated from outside. 

Fukuyama cited Brazil and India as examples of states in different stages of dealing with internal corruption. Both states can overcome their challenges by shifting the focus away from optimal policy designs toward effective and practical reforms, but success will depend on generating strong political will to challenge the status quo.