What we consider innovative ideas

When the following ideas were first tested, they were not expected to become the game-changing efforts that we know them as today. The jury may still be out on the ‘success’ of these efforts, however there is little doubt that they have altered the way we see and approach issues of transparency, accountability and corruption.  In this way, we consider them ‘innovative ideas’.


Distributing zero value currency as a disincentive for bribery

Tightening laws and reforming institutions will reduce corruption, but how about reconstructing the attitudes that reinforce it? Bribes may be commonplace - does that make them acceptable? In an attempt to change the ‘culture’ of corruption, the Indian non-profit 5th Pillar designed a ‘zero rupee note’ to 'pay' for a bribe. By addressing an overlooked aspect of corruption and employing a risky solution, the potential for impact of this effort may be as uncertain as it is great.

Randomized control trials to robustly address the challenges of corruption.

When leading development economists at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) began exploring the merits of emulating clinical trials from the medical field to identify and solve issues of basic needs, their work was ground breaking.  By experimenting with randomized actors, the experts were able to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt as to why governance issues in developing countries may be as they are, and what measures can be taken to deal with them.


Linking open public datasets to highlight channels of corruption.

When leading Croatian political blogger, Marko Rakar, released an easily searchable online list of registered voters just two months before local elections, real change followed.  As a result of the effort, voting turned away from candidates who would have benefited from the imagined voters exposed by the list.  It is Rakar’s strategic approach to ‘opening’ public datasets - his timing, clear vision of what implications the data would have, and how they would encourage citizens to act – that makes his work innovative.

Tracking bribes through online crowdsourced self-reporting.

It is no secret that bribery is a widespread issue in India and in many countries around the world.  The difficulty is determining ways to mitigate the need for bribes.  To combat this problem, the team at Janaagraha (a Bangalore, India based non-profit) decided to leverage the power of bribe-paying communities. The application by ‘I Paid A Bribe’ of crowdsourcing towards this often acknowledged, but also intractable issue had not been tried before.  The ‘market price of bribery’ for all to see and a push for reformers inside government to act on, reflects a well-calculated theory of change.   


 Collectivizing accountability through crisis tracking and mapping.

With their earliest effort to unmask electoral violence in Africa, Ushahidi taught us that simple tools can be used to not only collectivize voices, but also make them heard loud and clear. Capturing widespread action in an immediate and easy  way through mobile, combined with the display of the its aggregated form onto a single map, informed audiences of critical issues in a brand new manner that spoke louder than words.