Johann Lambsdorff Retires the Corruption Perceptions Index

Global Integrity
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Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff, creator of the Corruption Perceptions Index, will no longer publish the landmark corruption ranking, he said in an email to the Transparency International network this week. Lambsdorff wrote: “TI-S will try to continue somehow with a substitute for the CPI. Even though most of them are rather new to the debate, they will try to make the new product look like the old one. This is time for me to let them go their way.”

The Corruption Perceptions Index was first published in 1995, and aimed to create a ranking of “the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians.” The CPI, alongside the World Bank Institute’s similar effort, is widely credited for forcing the issue of corruption into high level international discourse in the 1990s. It has also been a lightning rod for criticism aimed at its methodology and uses. (Some of it from this blog.)

Dr. Lambsdorff sent his email this week, which he kindly confirmed for us in a message to Nathaniel Heller. His complete email is below.

(Too much shop talk? For a primer on metrics, see our book A Users’ Guide to Measuring Corruption.)

— Jonathan Eyler-Werve

Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff wrote:

With respect to the CPI, I sent out the following message to the TI-movement:

Dear friends and colleagues at Transparency International,

in 1995 I invented the Corruption Perceptions Index and have orchestrated it ever since, putting TI on the spotlight of international attention. In August 2009 I have informed Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of TI, that I am no longer available for doing the Corruption Perceptions Index.

When looking back at these 15 years, I am full of thankfulness to you, our movement. The CPI certainly was one or our most controversial tools – and maybe precisely due to this highly successful in changing perceptions. I am grateful to the many fierce debates we had on its strengths and weaknesses. I am grateful for having learned so much about the realities at the national level that lied behind each of the crude numbers I produced. I was happy for being criticized, when data failed to match with reality, and happy for being thanked, when my work helped raise awareness for so many National Chapters.

TI-S will try to continue somehow with a substitute for the CPI. Even though most of them are rather new to the debate, they will try to make the new product look like the old one. This is time for me to let them go their way.

From now on, it is only TI-S which will sign responsible for the outcome. I won’t be out there to take the honor, nor the blame. I won’t be out their to provide academic credibility and link the data to an international research agenda that hast swept through all major scientific journals. It is you, the movement, that will have to start anew to educate TI-S to deliver an acceptable product.

I will remain part of our movement with respect to other issues. Anticorruption Training at Passau University will continue to be on top of the global debate. Research on institutional and experimental issues of corruption and survey work will continue to hit headlines. Count on me, when you need my help,
thanks again,
Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff
University of Passau
http://www.icgg.org

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