Valdis Krebs, Founder and Chief Scientist, orgnet.com Interview 03 24 09 Corruption Networks
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Valdis Krebs, Founder and Chief Scientist, orgnet.com Interview 03 24 09 Corruption Networks

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Valdis Krebs, network software and analysis consultant, shares his insights into the architecture of corruption networks and identifies lessons to build networks for positive change.

Valdis Krebs, network software and analysis consultant, shares his insights into the architecture of corruption networks and identifies lessons to build networks for positive change.

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Valdis Krebs, Founder and Chief Scientist, orgnet.com Interview 03 24 09 Corruption Networks Valdis Krebs, Founder and Chief Scientist, orgnet.com Interview 03 24 09 Corruption Networks Document Transcript

  • Interview and transcription March 24, 2009 Valdis Krebs, Social Network Software and Analysis Learning from Networks of Corruption What I’ve been working on lately, has been a little bit of the opposite of what I started working on. I started working on large companies, helping them operate better and helping them function better with things like information flow and knowledge exchange and helping them to improve that so they can be more innovative and more productive. But lately I’ve been working with much smaller concerns, been working with civic networks with Ed Morrison and I-Open, and also looking at negative networks. Looking at corruption networks. A lot of networks we’re always thinking about and looking at and thinking they’re always positive and everything’s good and the more connections you have the better and all that other stuff but, there’s also another side of networks and that’s the negative side. How people achieve certain crimes, certain influence, even terrorists operate in networks and so these are all the things that, these are all networks we don’t want to work well. So, rather than trying to improve these networks, we look at how we can disrupt these networks. So, one of the things that’s interesting though is that by looking at how we disrupt networks we also start to understand how networks are strong and networks are resilient. So, some of my greatest learning in how to make effective community networks, small team networks, small neighborhood networks that are resilient and that are aware of what is happening, are getting the information they need, I learned, by looking at terrorists networks and trying to do just the opposite. So, how do we take this small group of ten, fifteen, twenty individuals and how do we disrupt that network? Who are the key people here? Where are the key clusters? Where are the key bridges of communication and how do we stop that? If we understand how to stop it, we also understand how to build it. So, it’s kind of an interesting thing because we can learn from the opposite of what we are trying to do, an interesting thing about networks that way. A lot of the work that I am doing now is looking at these various networks that are trying either to get away with something or trying to do something against another group. When Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United 1 States The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA
  • we look at corruption networks what we see is that even though these people are not schooled in the knowledge of networks, or the science of networks, it is amazing how they utilize certain things that we know about networks to get away with what they do. In normal networks what we try to do is to shorten the distance between people. Because the less hops you have in the network, the less steps it takes for anything to be communicated, or for information to travel or for knowledge to get around the better it is because distance usually delays and distorts so we try to minimize distance amongst groups, working teams that are working together, communities, civic networks and so on, so that when something pops up in one part of the network it’s quickly known in other parts of the network and so the network can easily adapt and do what’s necessary. In a network of corruption, or a network of criminals, they have to get things done so they need to look at that also. They try to hide themselves by putting distance between themselves and the events they are trying to affect. So, they kind of flip that whole distance mantra on its back. So, instead of minimizing distance, they are trying to maximize distance. So, if I am trying to influence a certain politician, it’s stupid for me to do a quid pro quo, it’s stupid for me to give money to that politician and then that politician goes off and either supports a contract that I want or votes for a law or a resolution that benefits me, because then it’s a direct relationship and people see that it’s quid pro quo. What a lot of people are doing these days, a lot of corrupt business people and politicians is they are putting distance between themselves so they are doing this thing that I call “in- direct quid pro quo.” So, rather than give the money directly to you, so that you go off and vote in a certain way, I’m going to give the money in an indirect circle but it’s eventually going to get to you. So, I may hire a lobbyist and I may give the money to the lobbyist. The lobbyist then goes out and hires one of your family members to do a project and they overpay that person to do what they do and they give them a huge sum of money and of course you get that money and your married to the politician, or related to the politician and then he or she votes the way the original corrupt person is trying to get them to go. What also happens, is sometimes there is an even more indirect route where the money goes from the lobbyist not to a family member or to a spouse but goes to a charity that the spouse is sponsoring or the head of, and then the money gets there. So, often we get three, four, steps between the person who is trying to influence and then the person who gets influenced. What this allows for is this thing called, “plausible deniability.” When the media accuses this person of trying to influence the vote or trying to influence a contract or anything like that, this person can say, “Well, I don’t even know the person, I don’t even have any direct contact with the person, there is no quid pro quo.” Technically, he is right, there is no quid pro quo, there is nothing showing that there is a direct relationship between me and the person he is trying to influence, and the person I’ve tried to influence. Most people have a real hard time chasing down this indirect flow because those things just aren’t that visible. So, when we’re looking at corruption networks, we are looking at these indirect paths. How are people trying to get things done and yet hide at the same time? Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United 2 States The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA
  • In a positive network, that network is not concerned about hiding they are just concerned with getting things done. So, if it’s a civic network or a project team, whatever, they are just worried about getting things done, getting the knowledge they need, meeting their deadlines, meeting their budget, getting rewarded for their good work. A corrupt network, or a criminal network kind of has a double role. They have to get things done too, but they also have to hide from prying eyes, the authorities, from the media, from just citizens. They have the double goal of hiding and getting things done. So they have to use less efficient network needs but they can’t use very inefficient means or else they won’t get anything done. That’s one of the things that we learned about terrorist networks is that even though they are usually cloaked, and they’re hidden, at times, just like on Star Trek, they have to uncloak in order to do what they need to do. And when they uncloak and when they get things done that’s when we can spot them, that’s when we can see how they’re connected, that’s when we can see that here’s a group that’s working together and so that’s when they are visible. It often takes these kind of groups longer to do what they’re doing because they have this double need, but eventually and especially if no one is watching, no one is paying attention, they are able to get these things done. But in today’s world where transparency is kind of the new mantra, maybe with the media watching, with all sorts of watch groups watching and with local citizens watching what’s going on in their neighborhood, maybe some of these corrupt practices will be exposed and we’ll see less of them. Unfortunately, at least for the time being in the world of social network analysis, corruption seems to be the growth industry. That seems to be where things are happening and there’s a lot of attention that needs to be paid to it. Our generous thanks to Valdis Krebs http://www.orgnet.com The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA Copyright 2009 I-Open http://i-open.org Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United States Related I-Open Interviews • Insights from Valdis Krebs: Networks of Corruption, Employment Networks, and Innovations in Network Research [00:27:58] Vimeo, Livestream • Learning from Corruption Networks [00:10:17] Livestream, Vimeo, You Tube • Building Employment Networks [00:10:17:00] Vimeo, Livestream • Network Research Innovations [00:08:19] Tube, Vimeo, Livestream • Social Network Analysis 1997 – 2007 Valdis Krebs Part 1 Defrag Conference 2007 Livestream, Vimeo • Social Network Analysis 1997 – 2007 Valdis Krebs Part 2 Defrag Conference 2007 Livestream, Vimeo Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United 3 States The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA
  • Articles • Social Networks – the new front in the war on terror, Military Tech, CNET News http://news.cnet.com/8301-13639_3-10315748-42.html • Fireside Chat with Ed & Valdis – First of a series of chats on leading edge ideas in regional economic development with Ed Morrison and Valdis Krebs http://www.thenetworkthinker.com/2009/08/fireside-chat-with-ed-valdis.html Biographical Valdis Krebs is the Founder, and Chief Scientist, at orgnet.com. Valdis is a management consultant, researcher, trainer, author, and the developer of InFlow software for social and organizational network analysis [SNA/ONA]. InFlow maps and measures knowledge exchange, information flow, emergent communities, networks of alliances and other connections within and between organizations and communities. http://www.orgnet.com/VKbio.html Contact Information Valdis Krebs E-mail: valdiskrebs@orgnet.com Twitter: ValdisKrebs Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United 4 States The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA