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Integrity Building and Social Norms in Kosovo’s Municipalities

Part of the Political Corruption and Governance book series (PCG)


Why do ‘integrity building’ interventions in development settings rarely induce governance practices that are consistent with the standards set out in the formal state? This chapter explains the seemingly poor outcomes of integrity-building approaches by going beyond an assessment of institutions, rules or organizational processes, to focus on a key dimension of integrity building: the response and agency of ordinary citizens. In particular, the chapter considers how underlying norms within society shape choices about whether to engage in integrity supporting or undermining practices. The empirical focus is on the norms such as vote swapping, string pulling and collusion, at the municipal level in Kosovo. The research demonstrates the complexity of integrity building and how the process can be held back by interdependent behaviors that require a whole set of different interventions.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Nestled in south-eastern Europe (SEE), Kosovo is bordered in the south-west by Albania, in the south by Macedonia, in the east and north by Serbia and in the north-west by Montenegro. A 2015 estimate states that the total population is 1,870,981 with around 92 percent of that number identifying as Albanian. Around 5–6 percent of the population consists of the Serb minority that are mostly concentrated north of the Ibar river, adjacent to the Kosovo-Serbian border, but some also reside in small areas in southern Kosovo. The remainder of the population comprises the Roma, Bosniaks, Turks and Gorani minorities.

  2. 2.

    Author calculations OECD database; In 2009, for instance, the international community dedicated $345 per person on international state-building efforts in Kosovo, an amount that towers over the aid spent on state-building activities in those other, more high-profile efforts in Afghanistan ($62 per capita) and Iraq ($41 per capita) and dwarfs that allocated to other countries in the SEE region (after Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina receives the second highest at $44).

  3. 3.

    Law No. 03/L-072 on Local Elections in the Republic of Kosovo 3.

  4. 4.

    Law Nr. 03/L-040 on Local Self-Government.

  5. 5.

    In 2009, the largest projects within the public sector policy and administrative management category were directed at the municipal level, for example, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development microdata. For example, an EU-funded project (€0.8m per annum) has aimed to ‘establish a more efficient, effective and accountable local government with emphasis on better management, consistent service delivery and improved relations with citizens’. Other development agencies have supported a variety of interventions aiming to increase citizen participation and raise awareness on democratic issues, including the ‘Effective Municipalities Initiative’ program supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the ‘Support to Decentralisation in Kosovo’ project implemented by the United Nations Development Program.

  6. 6.

    The interviews were anonymous and so citations for the interview take the initials of municipality (P, K, H, SK) and the position in which they were interviewed. All respondents were interviewed personally in their homes and in their first language (i.e. Albanian or Serbian). The sample was ‘proportionally stratified’ according to age and gender. The population of respondents was all those people eligible to engage with the state, that is all adults over 18. The survey took place across four municipalities. This number was chosen to ensure coverage of municipalities in different regions and of different sizes. Within each municipality, sampling took place across the different neighborhoods that were identified beforehand. Studies about sensitive topics are prone to social desirability bias—that is, when people do not give honest answers in order to present themselves in a socially desirable light. Asking people to respond from the vignettes’ characters’ perspective rather than on the basis of their own lives can reduce the effects of social desirability bias (Hughes and Huby 2004). Pre-tests of the vignettes specifically focused on whether the survey generated any emotional or psychological harm through requesting feedback from respondents about how they felt during and after the vignettes.


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Jackson, D. (2018). Integrity Building and Social Norms in Kosovo’s Municipalities. In: Kubbe, I., Engelbert, A. (eds) Corruption and Norms. Political Corruption and Governance. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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