A summary of groundbreaking research into social norms and attitudes towards corruption by our Public Governance team has been published in Ellis, Jane (ed.) Corruption, Social Sciences and the Law – Exploration across the disciplines. Published by Routledge, the book is part of a series entitled The Law of Financial Crime.

This eye-opening exploration of social norms and attitudes towards corruption appears in Chapter 12 of Ellis, Jane (ed.) Corruption, Social Sciences and the Law – Exploration across the disciplines, published by Routledge on 15 May 2019 as part of a series entitled The Law of Financial Crime. See the publisher's flyer with full details of the book and a 20% discount code.

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. 

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.

Conventional anti-corruption approaches advocate for the adoption of legal and institutional reforms in line with international best practices. Nevertheless, these anti-corruption frameworks are often weakly implemented across the Global South. Overcoming these limitations invites the rethinking of some of the core assumptions of anti-corruption practice, which has mainly aimed to address poor accountability and weak law enforcement capabilities of the state.

Power and influence analysis can be used to assess corruption vulnerabilities in the public sector. This approach helps identify powerful stakeholders that should be engaged to achieve maximum impact for anti-corruption strategies. It also helps reveal informal political networks and relationships that can hamper anti-corruption efforts.

Ignorance, apathy and disempowerment are recurring drivers of impunity. Social accountability, on its part, aims to empower citizens with information and provide effective channels through which to exercise agency. 

Authored by Claudia Baez Camargo, Head of Governance Research, this publication guides practitioners towards localising anti-corruption interventions that invite citizen participation in order to make them more effective.

Drivers of petty corruption and anti-corruption interventions in developing countries – a semi-systematic review

Monica Guy

Communications and Project Officer
+41 61 205 55 12
Email Biography

Combatting corruption in the developing world has been a formidable challenge and taken a prominent place in the agenda of the international development community for the last two decades. Nonetheless, the results and outcomes of conventional anti-corruption interventions continue to be modest at best. This is often reflected in the so-called implementation gap, whereby countries adopting sound legal and organisational anti-corruption frameworks continue to experience very high levels of corruption.

This policy brief summarises the main findings and lessons learned from research on corruption, social norms and behaviours in Uganda. The empirical evidence indicates that behavioural factors associated to social practices and collective understandings play a role in shaping Ugandan citizens’ attitudes towards petty corruption and in fuelling practices such as bribery and favouritism.

This policy brief summarises the main findings and lessons learned from research on corruption, social norms and behaviours in Tanzania. While the findings show that petty corruption is prevalent and results in inequitable public service delivery, they also inform that citizen and public officials’ attitudes and behaviours towards corruption are shifting as a result of changes in the political environment.