Corruption Prevention and the Art of War


Gradients in Anti-Corruption. B. Pinkowski
Gradients in Anti-Corruption. B. Pinkowski

The Highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plan. Sun Tzu

The key idea in corruption prevention is . . . prevention. To stop something from happening before it can occur. Indeed, prevention is the heart of “anti-corruption.” This is discussed further in Gradients of Anti-Corruption and is depicted in the graphic above.

The Gradients are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Prevention
  3. Detection
  4. Correction

Yet many “anti-corruption” programs are focused primarily on criminal investigation, with only the barest nod toward “prevention” and usually only in the simplest forms of Awareness: rallys, t-shirts and banners (with appropriate sponsor identification).

Frankly, Anti-Corruption that is primarily focused on criminal investigation adds nothing new – we already have highly skilled law enforcement professionals that can gather evidence and investigate crimes after the crimes have taken place. Anti-Corruption professionals that function as “criminal investigators” are redundant.

Moreover, many corrupt activities (those activities that cause the decay of society) are perfectly legal and are distinguished from crime. Indeed, we might say that there is no point in using the word “Anti-Corruption” if we only focus on crime – we can call it . . . crime.

“Fighting crime” is fundamentally important. But fear of punishment has seldom been successful as a long-term strategy.

Real corruption prevention must look beyond the apparency of social order imposed by government and a focus on the fundamental characteristics of society as a group, and its institutions – strengthening these, and developing/supporting those social mechanisms that correct behavior before they lead to social decay and crime.

Brian Pinkowski

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3 thoughts on “Corruption Prevention and the Art of War

  1. Brian, you nailed it right. It is sad that the whole concept of awareness and prevention has all but faded out. Detection and correction is so much fun to play with for DOJ and SEC because potential proceeds are too tempting.

  2. it seem we already develop a lot of mechanism and/or tools to fight corruption, from ‘kill’ them in place till make them ‘poor’, but still corruption happen almost in any facet of people life particularly in poor country perhaps we can learned from
    almost ‘zero’ corruption countries, i.e., New Zealand and/or Scandinavian Countries, that is through ‘example’ by their Government Official ’cause usually corruption ‘lead’ by this Government Official who hold power and power tend to corrupt isn’t?! so how to prevent corruption is begin with select the good and ‘clean’ these prospective Government Official appropriately

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