Eddy Malesky leads research on improving governance using digital technologies

Eddy Malesky looking at camera
DCID Director Eddy Malesky is leading multiple projects aimed at reducing corruption and improving governance using digital tools.

Weak governance—systemic corruption, poorly designed regulations, and inadequate service delivery—reduces the ability of both the private sector and the government to help improve lives, especially the lives of the poor. An important step in improving governance is getting private sector voices involved in the policy-making process; however, there are technical and institutional challenges to doing so in developing countries. These four projects focus on improving governance through a combination of 1) reducing corruption, 2) improving the quality of regulation, and 3) improving service delivery.

“Do Better Managers Engage in Less Corruption” (Vietnam)

This project flips the traditional view of government corruption as a burden on firms and asks whether poorly managed businesses make up for low productivity by paying bribes to avoid regulations and win procurement? Through nationwide, randomly assigned online courses and a digital accounting app, we are helping businesses monitor their productivity while simultaneously gathering anonymous data on bribe payments.

“Can Online Notice & Comment Improve Regulatory Compliance of SMEs?” (Thailand)

Many low-income countries have dangerously low compliance but are too poor or too corrupt to enforce regulations. Our research shows that including businesses at the design stage leads to better regulations and are more likely to be followed, but this process can be VERY expensive. In Thailand, we want to democratize the design process and get more businesses involved by using an online portal for “notice and comment” while also helping businesses improve the quality of their comments.

“Solid Waste Accountability Platform (SWAP)” (Cambodia)

Can we improve service delivery in an authoritarian state by letting citizens anonymously post complaints? In Cambodia, we designed an app that allows users to report issues with waste service to a public-facing website where government officials and private waste service companies can see them in real time. The goal is to increase bottom-up pressure and accountability in a difficult government environment.

“Corruption Learning Agenda” (USAID Democracy, Rights, and Governance Center)

USAID has identified anti-corruption as a priority topic in its 2022-2024 Learning Agenda and is looking for innovative approaches. Through exploratory research—a review of the literature, original research, and interviews—DCID faculty are helping USAID better understanding the role of political will in reducing corruption and identifying innovative approaches from around the world.

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