Institutional Corruption

Edmond J. Safra Research Lab
The Lab is a major initiative designed to address fundamental problems of ethics in a way that is of practical benefit to institutions of government and society around the world.  Learn more ›

In 2010, Lawrence Lessig launched the Edmond J. Safra Research Lab, a major initiative designed to address fundamental problems of ethics in a way that is of practical benefit to institutions of government and society around the world. As its primary undertaking, the Lab tackled the problem of institutional corruption.

"Institutional corruption is manifest when there is a systemic and strategic influence which is legal, or even currently ethical, that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, including, to the extent relevant to its purpose, weakening either the public’s trust in that institution or the institution’s inherent trustworthiness." - from "Institutional Corruption, Defined" by Lawrence Lessig.

Over a five year period, the Lab studied a wide range of important institutions with the ultimate goal of producing a set of practical tools that could be used both to understand the dynamic of institutional corruption and to respond to it. A structure of fellowships supported the project and drew scholars and researchers from a wide range of disciplines across academia, industry, and government. A strong component of the Lab's work was collaborative research that integrated the work of different fields. 

2014-15 was the final year of the five-year project, which culminated in a two-day Ending Institutional Corruption conference on May 1 and 2, 2015. In advance of the conference, the Center ran a hackathon on March 28 and 29, 2015.

Read a full description of the Lab's research project and operational plan.

Watch the Lab's introductory lecture, given by Professor Lessig in the fall of 2009, which laid out the framework for the Lab's project on institutional corruption.

Discover more about the Lab's research on institutional corruption through our publications, blog posts, podcasts, seminar summaries, and events, including the Lab's IC archive.

The Edmond J. Safra Research Lab was made possible, in part, by the generous support of Mrs. Lily Safra. Read more about her extraordinary gift.