Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Partners with InnoCentive to Identify Systems to Monitor Institutional Corruption

Waltham, Mass.—October 18, 2011—The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, a research center at Harvard University, and InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, today announced a Challenge seeking innovative systems to monitor institutions for potential signs of corrupting forces. The Challenge is open to the public and can be found on the InnoCentive website at https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9932692.

This Challenge is an extension of the work currently being conducted by the Center’s Research Lab on institutional corruption. Through this Challenge, the Lab’s ultimate goal is to find and deploy tools, databases or other technologies that help monitor institutions so they can better serve their intended purpose, as well as their relevant constituencies. The Challenge, which carries a total of $8,000 in awards, focuses on the potential of monitoring as a mechanism to combat corrupting forces within an institution. Center Director and Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig said, “We are eager to encourage innovative thinking about this critical problem from the widest range possible, and I am excited about the potential this approach presents.”

Corruption within public and private institutions is a widely acknowledged and insidious problem, due largely to the fact that many corruptive practices are legal and not necessarily considered unethical by members within an institution. Practices such as promising future employment, consulting work, campaign contributions, research funding, gifts or other incentives are not explicit bribes, though in some cases, they can be used in a legal manner to divert the purpose of an institution. This can result in the functional and reputational harm to an institution or to those who depend upon and trust it.

This Challenge asks Solvers to develop an innovative system or set of tools that will facilitate the detection and aggregation of information regarding corrupting forces within institutions for public and private organizations—such as government, regulatory agencies, businesses and professions, including medicine, academia and the law—in a way that is easily accessible and useful to the relevant constituencies.

“Every day we see increasing signs of friction between government and corporate institutions and the stakeholders they serve,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO, InnoCentive. “As a citizen, I am delighted that we can help advance the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics’ agenda of monitoring and ultimately curtailing corruption at the institutional level.”  
This Challenge is open to anyone with a solution that fits the published criteria, and requires only a written proposal. Submissions for this Challenge will be accepted through November 8, 2011.

About the Research Lab at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
The Lab at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University is in the third year of a five-year project on institutional corruption. The Lab is concerned with widespread or systematic practices that undermine the integrity of an institution or public trust in an institution. However, unlike more frequently studied examples of individual corruption (such as bribery), institutional corruption tends to involve practices that are legal. Although these practices may be of concern to informed but disinterested third-parties, participants within the institution tend not to consider them unethical. We study a wide range of important institutions, with the ultimate goal of producing a set of practical tools that might be used both to understand the dynamic of institutional corruption and to respond to it. Learn about the projects we support, institutional corruption, or about getting involved on our website: http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab.

About InnoCentive
InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Eli Lilly, Life Technologies, NASA, nature.com, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.