Robert Klitgaard's Biography

Robert Klitgaard is a University Professor at Claremont Graduate University, where he served as the President from 2005 to 2009.

He previously served as Dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where he was also the Ford Distinguished Professor of International Development and Security.  He has been a Professor of Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; Lester Crown Professor of Economics at Yale’s School of Management; and Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he also served half-time as Special Assistant to Harvard President Derek Bok.

Klitgaard has advised many governments on economic strategy and institutional reform, and his consulting work and research have taken him to more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  He has been called “the world’s leading expert on corruption” (The Christian Science Monitor).  In recent years he has served on the faculty of the World Economic Forum, the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic Literature and Theoria, and the Board of the International Development Evaluation Association.

In addition to many articles, he has written eight books:

  • High-Performance Government: Structure, Leadership, Incentives (RAND, 2005) (edited with Paul C. Light).  “This sometimes sprawling but hugely insightful work is the first significant public management book about performance in the new century. It rivals John Roberts’ The Modern Firm currently regarded by many (this reviewer included) as the best business book thus far on performance in the 21st century.” —The Public Manager.  For a free, downloadable copy, click here.
  • Corrupt Cities: A Practical Guide to Cure and Prevention (ICS Press and World Bank Institute, 2000; translated into 13 languages) (with Ronald MacLean-Abaroa and H. Lindsey Parris).  “This small gem of a an exemplar of the transfer of economic principles into the practice of public management.” —The Journal of Economic Literature
  • Adjusting to Reality: Beyond “State versus Market” in Economic Development (ICS Press and International Center for Economic Growth, 1991; translated into Spanish and French), a study of policies to make markets work better, make governments work better, and close the economic gaps among ethnic groups. 
  • Tropical Gangsters (Basic Books, 1990; I. B. Tauris, 1991), a first-hand account of economic reform in Africa.  Named by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the six best non-fiction books of 1990.  Included in New York Times’ Books of the Century
  • Controlling Corruption (University of California Press, 1988; translated into 8 languages), a study of corruption and how to reduce it in the developing countries. 
  • Elitism and Meritocracy in Developing Countries (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), an analysis of selection policies (including affirmative action) around the globe.
  • Data Analysis for Development (Oxford University Press, 1985), how to apply statistics and econometrics to policy problems in poor countries.
  • Choosing Elites (Basic Books, 1985), how educational elites are and should be selected in the United States.  Listed in The Harvard Guide to Influential Books.  Named one of “900 Great Books of the Western World” as compiled in 2000 by Prof. Alexander H. McIntire, Jr., of the University of Miami.
Klitgaard received A.B., M.P.P., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.  He and his wife Elaine have four children.  Address:  Claremont Graduate University, 160 East Tenth Street, Claremont, CA 91711.  Tel. 909-607-4314.  E-mail: or

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