Research Topics


The U4 Blog

Learning & events

About Us

U4 Issue

Reassessing donor performance in anti-corruption

Pathways to more effective practice

Two decades of donor effort in anti-corruption have produced only very limited success. We are still far from confident about ‘what works’. Most analysis has been on WHAT donors have been trying to do. But could part of the answer be in HOW they work?

4 January 2021
Download PDFRead short version

A summarised version of this U4 Issue is also available:
Are donors mad? Reassessing performance in anti-corruption

Main points

  • The working methods that donors use are likely to be determining overall outcomes just as much as the technical content of their interventions.
  • These methods relate to how donors conceptualise the corruption problem; how they organise themselves in their operations; how they respond to corruption when they encounter it; and how their technical staff are deployed. Each of these considerations is significantly shaping what they do. All of them may be having inhibiting effects on donor performance.
  • A significant evidence base has accumulated that demonstrates how current donor approaches fall far short of their ambitions.
  • This publication proposes new pathways for donors to follow. These challenge the current orthodoxies of donor thinking, donor organisation, and donor relationships with others, both within their own governments and with the recipients of their assistance.
  • These pathways point to a need to break with numerous traditional ways of working, many of which are deeply ingrained within donor agencies. There are many obstacles to making these adjustments. Change is unlikely to be quick or easy. None of the new pathways is a silver bullet on its own.

Cite this publication

Mason OBE, P.; (2021) Reassessing donor performance in anti-corruption. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2021:1)

Download PDFRead short version
Phil Mason OBE


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)


aid, anti-corruption institutions, anti-corruption measures, anti-corruption policy, anti-corruption strategy, collective action, development cooperation, donor coordination, governance, political economy