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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.