Anti-Corruption in South America

How ought countries enforce anti-corruption laws? This question lay at the heart of new research co-authored by Kevin Davis, Beller Family Professor of Business Law. Davis and his two co-authors, Guillermo Jorge, global adjunct professor of law at NYU Law, and Maira Machado, associate professor at the Law School of Sao Paolo, presented their findings this fall at a conference at the Law School of Sao Paolo to a group that included academics trained in both law and political science from Argentina, Brazil, the US, Spain, and Canada, as well as public officials from Argentina and Brazil.

Focusing on the issues that rise when multiple institutions are involved in enforcing anti-corruption laws, Davis and his co-authors examined an approach to institutional design that they call “institutional modularity,” which involves multiple enforcement agencies with overlapping jurisdictions that are able but not required to coordinate with one another. In a study of six South American countries, the scholars found that the modular approach has achieved some success in Brazil but may not be appropriate for neighboring countries. All six countries are grappling with the question how to design their anti-corruption institutions, and the conference was an opportunity for scholars and practitioners from across South America to connect.

Davis noted that this type of research not only informs what faculty teach students, but also helps generate ideas and disseminate scholarship to a global audience. “The idea that NYU can serve as an important intellectual node in a network of people thinking about similar topics,” said Davis,” is a key component of the global program at NYU Law.

The study was sponsored by the International Development Research Council, a Canadian agency that funds research on issues facing poor countries, and the conference was supported by IDRC and FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation.

Posted September 30, 2014