Corruption is pervasive in Sub-Saharan Africa’s educational sector. The phenomenon includes not only bribery but also practices that the World Bank has labeled "quiet corruption." While anti-corruption interventions tackling such practices are typically based on assumptions of rational decision-making from classical economics, Cosimo analyses petty corruption practices through a behavioural lens.

This article applies a novel conceptual framework to characterise and assess the repertoire of practices used by informal networks to redistribute power and access to resources. These distinct norms and practices are typologised as co-optation, control, and camouflage. Co-optation involves recruitment into the network by means of the reciprocal exchange of favours. Control is about ensuring discipline amongst network members by means of shaming and social isolation. Camouflage refers to the formal facades behind which informality hides and is about protecting and legitimising the network.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID), through its East Africa Research Fund (EARF), commissioned the Basel Institute on Governance to conduct the research project “Corruption, Social Norms and Behaviours in East Africa” aiming at shedding light into those “[behavioural] factors that influence the propensity for poor people to engage in, resist and report ‘corrupt transactions’” in three East African countries, namely, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID), through its East Africa Research Fund (EARF), commissioned the Basel Institute on Governance to conduct the research project “Corruption, Social Norms and Behaviours in East Africa” aiming at shedding light into those “[behavioural] factors that influence the propensity for poor people to engage in, resist and report ‘corrupt transactions’” in three East African countries, namely, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

This Policy Brief summarises the main findings and lessons learned from a research on corruption, social norms and behaviours in Rwanda. The findings show that, although Rwanda has successfully curbed corruption, favouritism continues to be used to secure preferential access to public health services.

While the Rwandan experience illustrates how behavioural insights can effectively complement conventional anti-corruption approaches, further entry areas for deepening behavioural anti-corruption interventions are also identified.

What is corrupt behaviour? In order to better understand how endemic corruption “works” from the perspective of the affected populations themselves, researchers from the Basel Institute explore behavioural factors that impact attitudes towards petty corruption in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. One of the milestones of the research project has now been successfully completed with a systematic literature review.

On July 4th, the Basel Institute and Makerere University co-hosted a multi-stakeholder consultation workshop on behalf of the research project "Corruption, Social Norms and Behaviours in East Africa". The workshop informed interested Ugandan stakeholders on the findings of the research project and invited a discussion on the way forward to developing innovative anti-corruption interventions for Uganda based on the evidence uncovered through the research.

This paper compares social network dynamics and related petty corrupt practices in East Africa. It highlights how the properties of structural and functional networks could serve as entry points for anti-corruption interventions.

With a focus on the health sector in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, the empirical findings from this research corroborate the role of social networks in perpetuating collective practices of petty corruption, including bribery, favouritism and gift-giving.