Alternative title: Dismantling networks of corruption: challenges and opportunities in reforming informal governance in Tanzania.

This Tanzania country report is part of a research project funded by the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Programme of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the British Academy. 

This article was published in Central Asian Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal that is published quarterly.

It features innovative social science research on contemporary developments in the wider Central Asian region. Its coverage includes Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Xinjiang, neighboring powers (China, Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, Turkey), and the role of leading international powers and donors in this region.

Alena Ledeneva invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society’s open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Broadly defined as ‘ways of getting things done’, these invisible yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. They include emotion-driven exchanges of gifts or favours and tributes for services, interest-driven know-how (from informal welfare to informal employment and entrepreneurship), identity-driven practices of solidarity, and power-driven forms of co-optation and control.

Despite significant investment and anti-corruption capacity building in the past decades, "most systematically corrupt countries are considered to be just as corrupt now as they were before the anti-corruption interventions"(1). Statements like this are indicative of the frustration shared by practitioners and scholars alike at the apparent lack of success in controlling corruption worldwide and point to the need to rethink our understanding of the factors that fuel corruption and make it so hard to abate. 

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.

In many countries high levels of corruption persist in spite of the adoption of so-called anti-corruption “best practices”. In this paper we make a call to pursue a context-sensitive inquiry into the drivers of corruption in order to substantially improve the practices and effects of anti-corruption.