Issues about “good governance” and anti-corruption have become central in the development and democracy agenda. While it’s clear that low-quality government institutions have negative effects on the health and wealth of societies, the criteria for what should count as good governance remain far from clear. In his new book “The Quality of Government: Corruption, Social Trust and Inequality in International Perspective”, Bo Rothstein argues that the dominant theories in this field represent serious mischaracterizations of the problem and that the standard definitions of the problem used in research as well as by many leading policy organizations are not helpful. This, he argues, has led to anti-corruption policies that are, at best, ineffective.
Bo Rothstein holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at University of Gothenburg in Sweden where he is head of the Quality of Government (QoG) Institute. The QoG Institute consists of about twenty researchers studying the importance of trustworthy, reliable, competent and non-corrupt government institutions.
Rothstein took is PhD at Lund University in 1986 and served as assistant and associate professor at Uppsala University 1986 to 1994. He has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York, Cornell University, Harvard University, Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, the Australian National University and the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2006, he served as Visiting Professor at Harvard University.
His latest book, The Quality of Government: Corruption, Inequality and Social Trust in International Perspective is published by University of Chicago Press in 2011. Among his earlier books in English are Social Traps and the Problem of Trust, and Just Institutions Matters: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State (both Cambridge University Press 1998) and The Social Democratic State (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press 1996). His articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as World Politics, Governance, Comparative Politics, Scandinavian Political Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, European Journal of Political Research and Comparative Political Studies. He is also a regular contributor to the Swedish debate about public policy and has published more than 100 op-ed articles in all major Swedish daily newspapers.
Beginning in January 2012, Rothstein will be in residence at Stanford and affilliated with the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (SCANOCOR) and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford.