Understanding success and failure of anti-corruption initiatives
This paper focuses on the success and failure of anti-corruption initiatives; focusing mainly on those in developing countries. Through a review of extant evidence, it finds a very mixed picture within which there is widespread failure; albeit sometimes only partial failure. As a result, anti-corruption as a field can struggle to gain attention and resources among competing development initiatives. In reviewing that field we find that, while some progress has been made – for example in integrating risk assessments into programs and in learning from political economy analysis – there is little actual focus on the “missing middle”: the interventions themselves and how they can be made to work better. In analyzing those interventions, we argue that projects mostly fail because of over-large “design-reality gaps”; that is, too great a mismatch between the expectations built into their design as compared to on-the-ground realities in the context of their implementation. Successful initiatives find ways to minimize or close these gaps. Effective design and implementation processes enable gap closure and improve the likelihood of success.
- 1.Anonymous (2008). Laying foundations for transparency of development project finances in a South Asian ministry of planning. eTransparency Case Study no.14, http://www.egov4dev.org accessed 13 October 2011.
- 2.Bhatnagar, S. C., & Singh, N. (2010). Assessing the impact of e-government. Information Technologies and International Development, 6(2), 109–127.Google Scholar
- 3.Blunt, P. (2002). Public Administrative Reform and Management Innovation for Developing Countries. Background paper by for the Fourth Global Forum on Reinventing Government, http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan006226.pdf accessed 13 October 2011.
- 4.Boateng, K., & Heeks, R. B. (2008). Computerising election results management in West Africa. eGov Project Risk Example no.2, http://www.egov4dev.org accessed 13 October 2011.
- 5.Brinkerhoff, D. W. (2010). Unpacking the concept of political will to confront corruption. U4 Brief no.1. Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 6.Chandrasena, A. M. S. K. (2008). Web-based access to user-friendly financial statements in Sri Lanka. eTransparency Case Study no.10, http://www.egov4dev.org accessed 13 October 2011.
- 7.de Maria, W. (2010). The failure of the African anti-corruption effort: lessons for managers. International Journal of Management, 27(1), 117–122.Google Scholar
- 8.Doig, A., Watt, D., & Williams, R. (2005). Measuring ‘success’ in five African anti-corruption commissions, U4 Report. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 9.Fjeldstad, O. H. (2006). Corruption in tax administration: Lessons from institutional reforms in Uganda. In S. Rose-Ackerman (Ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption (pp. 484–511). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- 10.Grindle, M. S. (2010). Good governance: The Inflation of an Idea, RWP10-023. Cambridge: Kennedy School of Government.Google Scholar
- 12.Heeks, R. B. (2006). Implementing and managing eGovernment. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- 13.Heeks, R. B. (2007). Why anti-corruption initiatives fail: technology transfer and contextual collision. In S. Bracking (Ed.), Corruption and development: The anti-corruption campaigns (pp. 258–272). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- 14.Hubbard, P. (2007). Putting the power of transparency in context: information’s role in reducing corruption in Uganda’s educations sector, WP 136. Washington: Centre for Global Development.Google Scholar
- 15.Hussmann, K., & Hechler, H. (2008). Anti-corruption policy making in practice. U4 Brief no.1. Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 16.IDS. (2010). An upside-down view of governance. Brighton: Institute for Development Studies.Google Scholar
- 17.ITAD. (2011). Joint external anti-corruption evaluation, synthesis report. Hove: ITAD.Google Scholar
- 18.McGee, R., & Gaventa, J. (2010). Review of impact and effectiveness of transparency and accountability initiatives. Brighton: Institute for Development Studies.Google Scholar
- 20.Persson, A., Rothstein, B., & Teorell, J. (2010). The failure of anti-corruption policies: A theoretical mischaracterization of the problem, working paper 19. Gothenburg: Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
- 22.Pritchett, L., Woolcock, M., & Andrews, M. (2010). Capability traps? The mechanisms of persistent implementation failure, working paper 234. Washington: Center for Global Development.Google Scholar
- 23.Reinikka, R., & Svensson, J. (2005). Fighting corruption to improve schooling. Journal of the European Economic Association, 3(2–3), 1–9.Google Scholar
- 25.Scanteam. (2009). Anti-corruption approaches: A literature review. Oslo: Norad.Google Scholar
- 26.Sundet, G. (2008). Following the money: Do public expenditure tracking surveys matter, issue paper 2008:09. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 27.Tisne, M., & Smilov, D. (2004). From the ground up: Assessing the record of anti-corruption assistance in southeastern Europe, policy studies series 2004. Budapest: Center for Policy Studies, Central European University.Google Scholar
- 28.Trivunovic, M. (2011). Countering NGO corruption: Rethinking the conventional approaches, U4 issue paper 2011:3. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 29.Unsworth, S. (2007). Rethinking governance to fight corruption. U4 Brief no.7. Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 30.Vian, T., Savedoff, W. D., & Mathisen, H. (2010). Anticorruption in the health sector. Herndon: Kumarian Press.Google Scholar
- 31.Williams, R., & Doig, A. (2007). Achieving success and avoiding failure in anti-corruption commissions. U4 Brief no.1. Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
- 32.World Bank. (2007). Strengthening World Bank Group engagement on governance and anticorruption. Washington: World Bank.Google Scholar
- 33.World Bank (2010). First “International Corruption Hunters Alliance” Meets at World Bank to Accelerate Global Enforcement Action. Press Release no. 2011/216/INT. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- 34.World Bank/Independent Evaluation Group. (2008). Public sector reform: What works and why? Washington: World Bank.Google Scholar
- 35.Zuleta, J. C. (2008). Combating corruption in the revenue service, U4 Brief no.14. Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar