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Can customary authority reduce risks of corruption and local capture?

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Can customary authority reduce risks of corruption and local capture?

Donors should be willing to collect diverse perspectives regarding opportunities for partnership with customary leaders.
22 October 2018

Read the full blog post in Public Administration Review – 23 October, 2018.

Governments and development agencies are increasingly working with communities to supply public goods and services, but recent evidence suggests that this community-driven development (CDD) is beset by corrupt practices, such as embezzlement and nepotism, and subject to manipulation of processes to benefit private interests. How can development practitioners ensure more resilience against risks of corruption and capture in community-driven development?

We suggest that development practitioners consider an alternative organisation often present in communities where development projects take place: customary authority. In the past several decades, scholars and development practitioners had assumed that customary authority was withering away and was no longer an important force in local politics. Yet in recent years, a new generation of scholarship examining the developing world, from sub-Saharan Africa to Afghanistan, illustrates the resilience of customary governance in the face of divergent forces such as violent conflict, democratisation, economic development, and migration.

Read the full blog post on Public Administration Review

    About the authors

    Jennifer Murtazashvili

    Dr. Jennifer Murtazashvili is associate professor and director of the International Development Program at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research explores questions of governance in fragile states with a geographical focus on Central and South Asia and the former Soviet Union. Her first book, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

    Dr. David Jackson leads U4’s thematic work on informal contexts of corruption. His research explores how an understanding of social norms, patron-client politics, and nonstate actors can lead to anti-corruption interventions that are better suited to context. He is the author of various book chapters and journal articles on governance issues and holds degrees from Oxford University, the Hertie School of Governance, and the Freie Universität Berlin.


    All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

    This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)