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Evaluating anti-corruption interventions: The state of practice

Organisations implementing anti-corruption interventions regularly evaluate their work but to date the quality of the research produced has not been subject to any rigorous review. Analysis based around a new framework for assessing evaluation quality changes this picture and provides new insights on how evaluation is conducted in practice in this field. While some examples of good practice are identified, there are widespread issues with evaluation quality. These issues limit the potential of evaluation to generate valuable learning around anti-corruption interventions.

17 June 2024
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Evaluating anti-corruption interventions: The state of practice

Main points

  • Many anti-corruption programmes are set up in a way which makes evaluating them harder than it might otherwise be. A large majority lack a Theory of Change (ToC), baseline studies, and monitoring information.
  • Evaluations tend to focus more on internal programme processes as opposed to analysing the external effects of interventions. Despite usually having the aim of understanding both effectiveness and impact, most evaluations are not designed in a way which would allow them to do so reliably.
  • ToC does not appear to be well understood in the field as a basis for planning and evaluating anti-corruption interventions. Many of the ToCs that are available lack critical elements, such as grounding in contextual analysis and inclusion of assumptions and risks.
  • Evaluations are usually conducted at the end of the lifespan of a single programme. The median time frame for completing the evaluation is three months. This reduces the likelihood of evaluations supporting direct learning around interventions.
  • While evaluations increasingly acknowledge gender and intersectionality, it is rare for them to explore how these factors influence outcomes from interventions.
  • Opportunities to use different approaches to measuring corruption and related phenomena are often missed in practice. The quantitative indicators selected are often not appropriate for tracking change at the level at which most interventions operate.
  • Development agencies and CSOs should critically review how they design anti-corruption programmes, why they undertake evaluations and for whom, and how practice can be improved. Such improvements include changes needed to organisational structures and processes, and implementing ways of designing evaluations which are appropriate to understanding the complexity of anti-corruption interventions.

Cite this publication

Shipley, T. (2024) Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2024:04)

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About the author

Tom Shipley

Tom Shipley is a Researcher at the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption. His research explores how the anti-corruption field can improve understanding of its impact. Alongside this research, Tom has provided expert reports and analysis for a range of organisations in the field including Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Transparency International, the UK government, USAID, and the World Bank.


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)