TED Talk: Corruption is not the problem; it’s a solution


November 6, 2019

Ask investors why they choose not to invest in certain regions or ask citizens in emerging economies why their countries are not developing, and corruption almost always comes up. In fact, corruption remains one of the top worries in the world according to the Global Advisor’s What Worries the World survey, and for good reason. According to data from the most recent Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, “most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.” This trend, the organization behind the Index asserts, is “contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.” 

For this reason, conventional thinking on corruption suggests that countries should build up good governance and institutions, enforce the law, and then corruption will disappear, enabling an influx of investments into regions in the world that struggle to attract investments. This thinking, however, is not only flawed, it is backwards.

On June 6, 2019 I had the opportunity to give a TED talk and explain that societies don’t develop because they have reduced corruption. Instead, they are able to reduce corruption because they’ve developed.

If the global community is to make inroads against corruption, an economic cancer that threatens many democracies and stifles economic activity, it must get the corruption-fighting equation right.


Efosa Ojomo is a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute, and co-author of The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty. Efosa’s work focuses on using Disruptive Innovation theory to fundamentally change the discourse in the global development community, thus enabling nations to engender their own path to long-term growth and prosperity.