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Enrolling the local: Community-based anti-corruption efforts and institutional capture

This Brief examines community-based anti-corruption efforts in natural resource management in order to better understand their rationales, potentialities, and challenges—especially complications posed by the intersection of such initiatives with national-level dynamics of institutional capture. The authors present a case study from northeastern Madagascar in order to empirically explore such dynamics, and conclude with a discussion of how multi-level anti-corruption interventions might offer a promising way forward for reducing corruption in natural resource management for certain high-value landscapes or resources that might be subject to challenges connected to institutional capture.

31 January 2021
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Enrolling the local: Community-based anti-corruption efforts and institutional capture

Main points

  • Community-based anti-corruption efforts are often seen as a way to circumvent corrupt state actors, to empower those most affected by the negative consequences of corruption, and to build trust and legitimacy for such initiatives at the local level.
  • However, evidence from community-based natural resource management programs around Makira Natural Park in northeastern Madagascar suggests that while community-based anti-corruption efforts may prove effective in cases where local resources and landscapes are of little interest to national-level actors, they are likely to fail when resources are highly valued by those actors for strategic and/or economic reasons.
  • When lucrative natural resources are involved, institutional capture that effectively takes power away from local actors is a persistent challenge, requiring a multi-level approach to combatting corruption to increase chances for community-based management of natural resources to achieve desired results.

Cite this publication

Klein, B.; Zhu, A.; Pardo-Herrera, C.; Mullard, S.; (2021) Enrolling the local: Community-based anti-corruption efforts and institutional capture. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (TNRC Publication 2022:2)

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About the authors

Brian Klein

Brian Klein is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, jointly appointed in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and the Program in the Environment. Brian’s research focuses on natural resource governance and global development, especially in frontier settings across the Global South. His current projects primarily examine local-level governance and exploitation in Madagascar’s artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. He has conducted extensive fieldwork on the island, including ethnographic research in rural communities, and served there as a member of the US Peace Corps. Brian holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Annah Zhu

Wageningen University

Camilo Pardo-Herrera

George Mason University

Saul Mullard is a senior adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and a civil society specialist with a background in historical sociology, development studies, and South Asian studies. His research interests include the relationship between corruption and climate change and the role of local communities and indigenous peoples in addressing corruption and environmental protection. Mullard holds a doctorate and master’s in South and Inner Asian Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as a BA in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.


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


Photo: WWF-Madagascar COPYRIGHTED