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Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
“In India, as elsewhere in the developing world, the old business of corruption is meeting a new rival: the Washington-style business of persuasion.” So commented columnist Anand Giridharadas in the May 18, 2006, edition of the International Herald Tribune.
Lobbying and bribery are both time-honored ways to seek influence. The most important difference between them, according to economist Bård Harstad of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is not that one is legal and the other a crime. It’s that bribery doesn’t last as long.
Whereas successful lobbying changes the rules, bribery only bends them. Harstad built a mathematical model to track and explain why bribery is more common in poor countries and lobbying in rich ones. “If you are bribing, you get permission to break the rule only once,” says Harstad. “If you want to break the rule later, you have to pay again.”