Edgardo Buscaglia

Edgardo Buscaglia


Edgardo Buscaglia was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution until 2008. He is also the director of the International Law and Economic Development Center at the University of Virginia School of Law, the vice president of the Inter American Law and Economics Association, and a legal and economic senior adviser to several international organizations in the United States and in Europe.

Buscaglia studies the impact of legal and judicial frameworks on economic development. His current research focuses on factors affecting legal and economic integration in developing countries, the causes of public sector corruption, and intellectual property rights in developing countries. He also engages in economic analysis of the judicial sectors in civil law countries and in the implementation of technical assistance to countries focused on public sector institutional reforms, including improvements in public sector governance applied to central and local governments in Asia, Africa, and in Latin America. Additionally, Buscaglia is responsible for designing and delivering international economic and institutional assessments of organized crime linked to public sector corruption.

Some of his most recent peer-reviewed publications include "Controlling Organized Crime Linked to Public Sector Corruption: Results of a Global Trends Study" with Jan van Dijk (United Nations Forum, United Nations Press, 2003); "How to Design a National Strategy Against Organized Crime in the Framework of the United Nations' Palermo Convention" with Samuel Gonzalez-Ruiz in The Fight Against Organized Crime (UNDP Press, 2003); "Empirical Foundation for the Implementation of the Palermo Convention" with Jan van Dijk and Mark Shaw in Max Planck Journal (2002); "An Economic Analysis of Legal Harmonization in Latin America," in Emerging Markets Review (Elsevier Science Press, 2001); "An Economic Analysis of Institutional Integration in the Americas," in German Papers in Law and Economics (BCPress, 2001); "An Economic Analysis of Public Sector Corruption: Objective Indicators vs. Perceptional Biases," International Review of Law and Economics, June 2001; Law and Economics in Developing Countries with William Ratliff (Hoover Press, 2001); Judicial Corruption in Developing Countries: Its Causes and Economic Consequences (Hoover Essays in Public Policy, Hoover Press, 2000); "Law and Economics of Development" in the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics (Edward Elgar Press, 2000); "A Quantitative Analysis of the Efficiency of the Judicial Sector," International Review of Law and Economics, 1997; U.S. Foreign Policy and Intellectual Property Rights in Latin America with Clarisa Long (Hoover Essays in Public Policy, Hoover Press, 1997); "An Economic and Jurimetric Analysis of Public Sector Corruption," Essays in Law and Economics (Elgar Press, 1997); "Benchmarking Procedural Times: A Quality Control Approach to Court Delays" with J. L. Guerrero, Benchmarking for Quality Management & Technology, 1997.

Buscaglia is also the coeditor (with William Ratliff and Robert Cooter) of The Law and Economics of Development (JAI Press) and the coauthor (with William Ratliff) of Legal and Judicial Reforms in Latin America: Political and Economic Implications (1998). Buscaglia is an op-ed contributor to the Wall Street Journal, London's Financial Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Times, and the Miami Herald.

Buscaglia served as a member of the board on Governance of Transparency International (an international anti-corruption alliance based in Berlin) and as a member of the board of directors at Analysis and Programming International Consulting Group.

Buscaglia has held teaching positions at Georgetown University, Washington College, the University of Ghent (Belgium), and the National University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Buscaglia received his legal postdoctoral training in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California at Berkeley Law School. He also received a master's in law and economics and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was a Fulbright and ITT scholar between 1985 and 1989.

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Recent Commentary

Undermining the Foundations of Organized Crime and Public Sector Corruption: An Essay on Best International Practices

by Edgardo Buscaglia, William Ratliffvia Analysis
Monday, August 1, 2005

Corruption and organized crime are serious criminal phenomena, but they are also much more than that. Not only is organized crime an impediment to national development and globalization, but with its links to terrorist groups worldwide, it is also a threat to the national security of the United States and other open and opening societies. The recent histories of Pakistan and Colombia demonstrate clearly how organized criminal groups support the expansion of transnational terrorism and even how misconceived domestic and international policies can simply make matters worse (Buscaglia 1999; Buscaglia and Ratliff 2001). The threat that these activities of organized crime presents is compounded because transnational criminal organizations often act with the tacit or explicit support of state authorities, as in the illegal traf?cking of radioactive, biological, and chemical materials and in the more conventional transport of military and other equipment (Buscaglia and Gonzalez-Ruiz 2002). That is, criminal groups frequently expand their activities worldwide by capturing the public policies of states with the support of corrupt public of?cials, who then do not work conscientiously for the good of their own nations or of the international community. Just one example is the transnational criminal organizations in Russia that engage in the traf?cking and supplying of weapons to terrorist groups inside and outside the Fed-eration's borders, which they do by corrupting local public of?cials and of?cials in the military establishment (Buscaglia 1997).

Organized crime, corruption, and links to terrorism are possible because of weaknesses in the control mechanisms of state and civil society, as demonstrated by conditions in Colombia (Buscaglia and Ratliff 2001) and by large-scale terrorist involvement in organized crime, including money laundering, as has been the case with the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland (Economist 2005). Theory and applied research suggest that there are interdependent links along the entire spectrum of political, socioeconomic, legal, and criminal justice domains (Shelley 1995; Buscaglia and Gonzalez-Ruiz 2002; Buscaglia and Ratliff 2000). For example, the analytical results found in Buscaglia and van Dijk (2003), from a sample of more than ?ve dozen countries worldwide, attest to the deep ties between the growth of organized crime and the growth of public sector corruption. Many believe incorrectly that in a large range of societies the links between organized crime and terrorists resemble the popular perceptions of a formal and structured "Ma?a" type (Buscaglia and Gonzalez-Ruiz 2002). But on the contrary, these criminal enterprises are dynamic and relatively loose structures, making the task of both law enforcement and intelligence analysis much more dif?cult (Williams 2001).

There is ample evidence of organized crime's involvement in some major piratical attacks in the Malacca Strait, for example, with the threats those attacks posed to persons, to property, and to the delivery of, among other things, 80 percent of the oil shipped to Asia's booming economies. Indeed, organized crime may be involved in the setting up of "phantom ships" that intelligence sources say are under the control of al-Qaeda (Ratliff 2005a, 2005b; Burnett 2002). What is more, evidence suggests that these links between terrorism and organized crime are on the rise. For example, since 1990 the transnational organized crime linked to speci?c terrorist operations has increased at an average rate of 8, 19, and 21 percent yearly in Latin America, Africa, and Eurasia, respectively (Buscaglia and Gonzalez-Ruiz 2002). Thus the links between organized crime and states with weak or corrupt governance constitute an important threat to international peace and security as well as to national development and well-being. They demand a response that will both improve national governance and development and reduce links that threaten national and international security. The composite indices of organized crime and corruption in Buscaglia and van Dijk (2003) were used to identify the institutional factors linked to reductions in complex crime. This policy essay goes one step further by delineating best practices in counteracting organized crime and public sector corruption.

This essay is in three parts: (1) focus and background, (2) methodology and empirical analysis, and (3) policy recommendations taken from the study of best international practices in counteracting organized crime and public sector corruption.

A Nation under Siege

by William Ratliff, Edgardo Buscagliavia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Colombia is under siege, with left-wing rebels and right-wing paramilitaries in control of more than half its territory and a government incapable of restoring order. U.S. policy is only making things worse. By Hoover fellows Edgardo Buscaglia and William Ratliff.

War and Lack of Governance in Colombia: Narcos, Guerrillas, and U.S. Policy

by Edgardo Buscaglia, William Ratliffvia Analysis
Sunday, July 1, 2001

This essay is based on academic and field research conducted by both authors between 1994 and 2001 in Colombia and the United States. For more references, see Buscaglia, “Law and Economics of Development” in The Encyclopedia of Law and Economics (Cheltenham: Eduard Elgar, 2000).

Colombia today is crippled by its most serious political, economic, social, and moral crisis in a century, a condition that seriously threatens both Latin America and the national interests of the United States in the region.


Law and Economics in Developing Countries

by Edgardo Buscaglia, William Ratliffvia Hoover Institution Press
Friday, August 11, 2000

This concise volume examines the relationship between law, governance, and economic development and shows the main substantive and procedural legal factors that developing nations must address to promote political stability and economic growth, intended for the general informed reader as well as for policymakers in governments and civil society.

Judicial Corruption in Developing Countries: Its Causes and Economic Consequences

by Edgardo Buscagliavia Analysis
Thursday, July 1, 1999

Many scholars have provided path-breaking contributions to the institutional analysis of systemic and systematic corruption. Descriptive studies focusing on corrupt practices and on the impact of corruption on economic development are abundant. Yet the literature has not yet isolated the main legal, organizational, and market-related causes of systemic corruption within the public sector in general and within the judiciary in particular.

This essay proposes a framework within which the institutional analysis of corrupt activities within the judiciary can be further understood in developing countries. First, an approach to the study of public sector corruption based on science, not on guesswork or intuition, must be verifiable if we are to develop reliable anticorruption policy prescriptions. Therefore, legal, economic, and organizational factors are proposed here to explain corruption within the judicial sectors of developing countries. Second, the economic theory of corruption should recognize that official corruption is a significant source of institutional inertia in public sector reforms. An account of the private costs and benefits of judicial reforms as perceived by public officials is also considered in this study.

A Complicated Peace

by William Ratliff, Edgardo Buscagliavia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Late last year President Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala, the biggest country in Central America, signed a peace accord with guerrilla insurgents, ending the country's thirty-six-year civil war. How will Arzu bring economic growth to agricultural regions that don't even have clear land titles? Or political stability to a country in which 70 percent of the people see the legal system as a mere device of the white elite? Hoover fellows Edgardo Buscaglia Jr. and William Ratliff explain why negotiating the peace accord may have been the easy part

U.S. Foreign Policy and Intellectual Property Rights in Latin America

by Edgardo Buscagliavia Analysis
Tuesday, April 1, 1997

This essay presents a legal and economic analysis of U.S. foreign policy regarding the protection of U.S. intellectual property rights in Latin America. Piracy of U.S. intellectual property in foreign markets costs American businesses up to $80 billion in losses each year. U.S. companies are estimated to lose one dollar to inadequate protection of intellectual property rights for every three dollars of revenue gained from exported products.

First, we explain the forces behind the move to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in Latin America. We examine the double-sided problem of intellectual property rights reform: the lack of adequate standards for intellectual property protection and the weakness of enforcement mechanisms (i.e., courts and administrative authorities). We also explain how, under the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Latin American nations have committed to raising their standards of intellectual property protection.

Second, we explore current attempts at reform and the problems impeding further improvements, such as the lack of political stability, corruption within the legislatures, the use of intellectual property as an economic and foreign policy tool, the short-term incentives for politicians facing reelection to support local pirate industries, and the institutional failure of courts and administrative agencies throughout Latin America.

Finally, we outline the implications for U.S. foreign policy. Foreign economic pressures, coupled with regional trade pacts such as Mercosur, can be used to affect the costs and benefits of reform as perceived by Latin American politicians and business leaders. We conclude that although Latin American nations have traditionally considered intellectual property to be "the heritage of humanity" rather than a privately held asset, as they struggle to attract world-class technologies to their shores, Latin American countries are slowly realizing that they must reform their systems of intellectual property rights if they are to succeed in an age of high technology.

Judicial Reform in Latin America

by Edgardo Buscaglia, William Ratliff, Maria Dakoliasvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

The movement toward democracy and free markets in Latin America can only go so far if the courts remain corrupt and inefficient. Hoover fellow William Ratliff joins Edgardo Buscaglia Jr. and Maria Dakolias in describing the principal problems and in offering an outline for reform.

Judicial Reform in Latin America: A Framework for National Development

by William Ratliff, Edgardo Buscagliavia Analysis
Friday, December 1, 1995

Judicial reform is essential in Latin America today if the domestic and international economic changes that have drawn so much worldwide attention are to succeed. Yet heretofore this aspect of reform has usually drawn only passing attention or none at all in the region and beyond. We believe that this indifference cannot continue because law is the underpinning of true democracy and lasting economic reform, both within individual countries and in foreign relations in the emerging world of competition and interaction among nations. We examine this phenomenon from the combined perspectives of law, economics, political science, and history.

First, we describe the problem--the crisis within the judicial system in Latin America today that may itself precipitate changes that would be difficult or impossible to achieve otherwise. We offer new data on perceptions of the current crisis from within the judicial sectors themselves and societies at large. We touch as well on some nonjudicial factors, ranging from institutional inertia to traditional ways of thought and the quality of political leadership, that affect the role of law in society and that in varying ways promote or impede reform.

Second, we discuss judicial reforms needed today to bring justice to all levels of society by enhancing efficiency and reducing and in time eliminating the predatory role of the state, all of which are present or needed in judicial reforms under consideration or being implemented in varying degrees in Latin America. This part analyzes how factors related to the predatory power of the state--such as "rent seeking" (the bribe culture) and other unofficial activities, conducted by different groups within the public sector--increase the institutional inertia observed during judicial reforms. Our proposals take into account both the expected costs and the benefits of judicial reform for the people in general but also for government officials and politicians, considerations that are essential if reforms are to be drawn up realistically and enacted. In doing so we do not think of judicial reform as an entirely consensual matter but often as the playing off of one self-interested group in the government against another that is too weakened by the current crisis to resist effectively. Thus may the door open to long-term positive reform.