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The effectiveness of integrity led anti-corruption interventions

In recent years, an influential scholarly school of thought has emerged in the field of anti-corruption, which emphasises the need to encourage positive behaviour instead of an “excessive” focus on direct measures aimed at countering corruption head-on. This paper considers the evidence base on whether integrity led interventions have been able to reduce corruption. It finds little evidence that integrity oriented approaches, such as training, integrity awards or codes of conduct, can lower corruption where these are not paired with robust enforcement mechanisms. On the other hand, there is some indication that ethical leadership, behavioural nudging and to some extent anti-corruption messaging can help to reduce corruption in certain settings. The most promising results seem to come from interventions that raise the (material) costs of corruption while simultaneously increasing the (social-normative) benefits of behaving ethically. As such, certain integrity led interventions can provide a useful complement to direct anti-corruption measures but appear unlikely to work if applied in isolation.

3 November 2022
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The effectiveness of integrity led anti-corruption interventions

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Jenkins, M.; (2022) The effectiveness of integrity led anti-corruption interventions. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2022:13)

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About the author

Matt Jenkins is a Research and Knowledge Manager at Transparency International, where he runs the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk, an on-demand bespoke research service for civil society activists and development practitioners. Jenkins specialises in anti-corruption evaluations and evidence reviews, he has produced studies for the OECD and the GIZ, and has worked at the European Commission and think tanks in Berlin and Hyderabad.


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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)