Corruption, Governance, & Innovation

This is a clear, well researched piece on the relationship between corruption, governance and innovation. The author’s references to meritocracy are interesting but I would be interested to read more about how corruption has hijacked meritocratic systems. Is such decay of meritocracy a crime of omission, commission or both, and by whom? How can we manage the subjective assessment of merit so as not to facilitate corruption or other systemic pathologies?

Simply, where advancement based on merit is the rule and favouritism the exception, governments and markets alike promote value, and prosperity results. In places where such a system fails to take hold, social allocation is directed preferentially rather than ethically. In these contexts, science and research are marginalized because those in power fear that talent threatens their main aim — controlling access to public and private resources.

Governments that buy political support do not invest much in education and research — the returns are seen as too general. A sports stadium or a new airport woos the companies chosen to build it (which may contribute to the next election campaign) and the many voters who use it. A thousand science scholarships are much less profitable in these terms — they cannot be awarded to cronies with no scientific aptitude.

That is why more-corrupt EU states spend more on big projects such as roads and high-speed trains than on health, research, education and development (see ‘Single bidding‘). When — with the best of intentions — Brussels promotes austerity policies, which funds dry up first in corrupt countries? Investment in education and science.


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