Corruption and collective action

A growing number of authors argue that anti-corruption efforts have not worked because they are based on inadequate theory, suggesting that collective action theory offers a better understanding of corruption than the principal-agent theory usually used.

This collaborative research project is exploring whether different types of corruption should be understood as rooted in principal-agent problems or collective action problems, and the implications for anti-corruption reform. Our research so far suggests that both views are useful, along with a third perspective – that corruption can serve important functions, solving difficult problems that people face, especially in weak institutional environments.

Working with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, we will explore the different contexts and circumstances in which each of the three theoretical lenses are likely to be most appropriate. This will be followed by empirical case study research. The project aims to inform the development of more contextualised, and potentially more effective, anti-corruption programming.

See the blog post introducing the Corruption and Collective Action paper – Corruption: unpacking the black box of political will by Heather Marquette and Caryn Peiffer (Jan 2015).
 
Researchers: Heather Marquette and Caryn Peiffer (DLP), with Liz Hart and Nils Taxell (U4/CMI)

 

 

Related items

The politics of redistribution: we need you

Share your thoughts on episodes of redistribution that have helped redress inequality, and help us shape new research into the politics behind them. 

Opinion by David Hudson 16th October 2014

Does talking about corruption make it seem worse?

Guest post for The Guardian's Global Development Professionals Network

Development cooperation and fighting corruption: thinking differently

Everyone associates Brazil with football and the World Cup. Brazilians pouring out onto the street last summer to protest the competition being hosted in their country was last thing many of us expected to see.

Opinion by Heather Marquette 24th June 2015
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 26th April 2016

Beyond perceptions of corruption?

Efforts to understand corruption - and eradicate it - are beset by two core problems. Corruption is hard to define without straying into the subjective; and it's difficult to build robust methodologies to investigate it.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer 5th February 2015

Welcome to DLP's blog

Welcome to DLP's new blog on politics, power, policy and developmental leadership

Opinion by Heather Marquette 10th December 2013

Creative expression and women's empowerment in the Pacific

Art and creative expression have become an activist tool and alternative form of advocacy for young women in Fiji.

Through photography, theatre, dance and song, young women are finding new avenues for public expression. These innovative avenues for making their voices heard have great power in a context where women’s mobility and visibility is often constrained by socio-cultural norms.

Opinion by Tait Brimacombe 19th March 2015

Forgotten South Sudan tangled in factionalism and failed politics

A toxic blend of complex historical identity politics and short-term elite politicking

Opinion by Jonathan Fisher 4th September 2014
Opinion by Heather Marquette 13th October 2015

Politics shape services; and services shape politics

How governance and sector specialists can help each other understand the politics of service delivery

Opinion by Richard Batley 19th June 2014
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 15th October 2015

Time for a grown-up conversation about corruption

To combat corruption, we need to understand the deeper political realities, power dynamics and social structures that perpetuate it.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 9th December 2014

Fixing aid: we can't turn off the tap at the first sign of corruption

Much 'petty' corruption is about the poor using what little power they have to stave off destitution. (Guest post for The Conversation)

Opinion by Heather Marquette 10th November 2014

Somaliland's route to peace

Have donors overlooked the role played in development by secondary education? Reflections on new research on peacebuilding in Somaliland. 

Opinion by Sarah Phillips 12th December 2013

#Feminism: Digital technologies and feminist activism in Fiji

Guest post on Devpolicy on DLP work with research partners at University of the South Pacific

Opinion by Tait Brimacombe 14th March 2017

Anti-corruption in Bolivia: fighting greed – or attitudes?

Unsurprisingly, when people are asked about corruption, they say they are against it. But that doesn’t tell us what they really think about it, or what they do when confronted with it.   

Opinion by Nieves Zúñiga 29th June 2015

Don't give up on government

The World Bank launched its flagship World Development Report (WDR) this week, which boldly redefines how governance and policy interact to yield good or bad development outcomes. People are rightly praising the report for rejecting best practicesembracing adaptation and endorsing a focus on politics.

Opinion by Dan Hymowitz 3rd February 2017

Cancer and the links between medicine and development

Guest post for From Poverty to Power

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th April 2015

Corruption: unpacking the black box of political will

New thinking on the reasons why individuals engage in corruption - including the pragmatic calculation that, right or wrong, corruption may be the only solution to pressing difficulties. 

Opinion by Heather Marquette 12th January 2015

Using aid to strengthen Parliaments: fix the car, or worry about the driver?

Parliaments have always been treated as the poor cousins of democracy assistance efforts. (Guest post for From Poverty to Power)

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 24th November 2014

Fiji's Roshika Deo - outlier, positive deviant or simply feisty feminist?

Guest blogger Priya Chattier speaks at DLP's 2016 Annual Conference at La Trobe University in Melbourne on Monday 8 February. Her post here begins a short series on the conference theme: Power, politics and positive deviance.

Opinion by Priya Chattier 1st February 2016

Developmental leaders, 'dirty hands', and the dark side of collaboration

Should donors support developmental leaders who gain or keep power through questionable means? 

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi 11th December 2013

Political analysis as the practical art of the possible

Bringing politics back into PEA - a new paper with Adrian Leftwich

Opinion by David Hudson 24th July 2014

Inequality – the politics behind the policies

Discussion starter for the #polinequality conference

Opinion by David Hudson 11th February 2015

Political settlements: people and the landscapes of power

The problem with politics is that it involves people, and people do strange things. When development actors engage with power they often prefer to iron out the unpredictability of real politics in favour of the much neater lines of trends and social groups. We revere drivers of change studies because we can cope with the long-term, identity-based analysis of `deep’ politics. 

Opinion by Alan Whaites 24th July 2015

Peace processes after civil war: choosing the right tools for the job

Why, despite the best of intentions and the investment of significant resources, do peace processes so often fail to lead to a stable and lasting peace after civil war?

Opinion by Jasmine-Kim Westendorf 18th April 2016

What's so 'African' about African leadership?

Does a focus on 'African' leadership obscure the rich and diverse nature of Africa's many states and get in the way of useful lessons from other parts of the world?

Opinion by Suda Perera 1st April 2014

Why are Africa's poor more likely than the rich to pay a bribe for public services?

Research in Africa has consistently found that the poor are more likely than the better off to pay bribes to state officials for public services. This matters for all sorts of reasons, but from a state-building and developmental perspective, the crisis of trust that corruption can trigger can be devastating. When services are pushed just that bit further away by public-servants-turned-corrupt-gatekeepers, it is likely to colour the already jaundiced perceptions that hard-pressed communities may have of state institutions and of their legitimacy; and also, as Seligson puts it, of ‘the broader national governance frameworks in which they are located’.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer 19th January 2017

The Medellin model: don't forget the political processes

Since my DLP paper on Medellín was published, the city has become a ‘model’ for development – offering a palette of policies to combat urban violence that can provide a blueprint for cities with similar problems. 

Opinion by Kate Maclean 2nd November 2015

Connections, contradictions and the political economy of attention

How can we encourage creativity, even in risk-averse organisations? How can we protect our attention resources?

I listened to two interesting LSE podcasts recently which got me thinking more about creativity following on from a recent blog I posted about the current interest in innovation. Some even suggest the ‘innovation imperative’ is a mega trend.

Opinion by Chris Roche 7th May 2015

When the stars align to tackle inequality: reflections on the DLP annual conference

From the Occupy Movement to Thomas Piketty to current proposals for a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, inequality has emerged as one of the most intractable challenges of our time, and everyone, from activists to academics to policymakers, is talking about it. 

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 18th February 2015

Gender and power: six links and one big opportunity

Donors have recently made great efforts to understand power in partner countries. Yet they have largely ignored one of the most pervasive power relations – gender.

Opinion by Diana Koester 21st May 2015

Perceptions of women in politics in Fiji: how to accelerate change?

Women are widely seen as entirely capable of taking on political leadership in Fiji; however, when asked to think about 'leaders', the public imagination automatically sees a man in the role.

Opinion by Rachel Fairhurst 20th January 2015

Shuffling the decks: quick fixes versus long-term stability

(First published as a guest post for the ODI's Development Progress blog)

Opinion by Suda Perera 22nd January 2015
Opinion by Heather Marquette 9th March 2015

Corruption: do we target the servant or the paymaster?

Corruption can only be fought effectively with a coherent strategy collectively supported by all actors. (Guest post for The Guardian on UK aid watchdog report)

Opinion by Heather Marquette 5th November 2014

From objects of care to controllers of lives: governance, development and disability inclusion

Over the past decade or so, Australia’s efforts to support disability-inclusive development have begun to move from a charity approach to a rights-based approach. We now recognise that positive changes for people with disabilities are best brought about by – oddly enough – people with disabilities.

Opinion by Luke Arnold 25th May 2016

It's all about inclusion, but how?

Guest post for the World Bank

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 6th April 2016

Is education a magic bullet for addressing corruption? Insights from Papua New Guinea

This post for Devpolicy unpacks the findings of a new Development Policy Centre / DLP paper 

Opinion by Grant Walton 17th June 2015

Taking the Results agenda to the next level?

On new book The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th July 2015

The challenge of realising Pacific democracies' development potential

One of the most important issues facing Pacific democracies is how to realise democracy’s promise to support inclusive development. I have been struck by the many common challenges that emerging democracies face, regardless of region, as outlined in Alina Rocha Menocal’s discussion on the complex relationship between democracy, state-building and development. However, I think her insights also bring to the fore some of the unique problems that the Pacific region faces.

Opinion by Julien Barbara 8th July 2016

Corruption: is the right message getting through?

A couple of years ago, Cote d’Ivoire’s government erected striking black and orange billboards around Abidjan that carried messages like “It destroyed my region” and “It killed my son”

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer 12th August 2015

What's in a name? Leadership as more than the 'big men' and 'big women' of history

A more nuanced understanding of good developmental leadership demands a shift away from the conventional focus on 'big' individuals.

Opinion by Heather Lyne de Ver 11th February 2014

The road to transparency in resource-rich Myanmar

A large oil painting hangs in the formal reception room of Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines. A powerful and confident 19th century Burmese senior civil servant shows a pot full of rubies to a covetous foreign trader. Glowing at the centre of the pot is the Padamyar Ngamauk or the ‘royal ruby’—the massive and flawless ruby that was the pride of the royal treasury.

Opinion by Taylor Brown 1st April 2016

Medellin - more than a miracle

Bad news sells. And for news editors looking for horror stories to recycle, Colombia's second largest city used to be a reliable source.

Opinion by Cheryl Stonehouse 4th March 2014

‘Crows who come in search of dollars’: NGO legitimacy in conflict zones

Do political dynamics affect NGO legitimacy more than performance?

Opinion by Oliver Walton 19th August 2014

Gender - the power relationship that Political Economy Analysis forgot?

While most development research is well on the way to embedding gender analysis, PEA - many donors' key analytical tool - largely ignores it.

 

Opinion by Evie Browne 13th February 2014

What do we do on Monday? Political settlements in theory and practice

The political settlements framework can seem a distraction to some practitioners, many of whom have been thinking and working politically about development for a number of years. They find the term difficult to define with any precision and, in any case, quite unnecessary. In the real world, progress towards better understanding of and engagement with the political conditions which help and hinder development has been ticking along nicely, independently of the academic debates.

Opinion by Edward Laws 15th July 2015

Politics, risk and development: three takeaways

Last week was a big one for the Australasian development community, particularly for those interested in the politics of development. The Australasian Aid Conference at the Australian National University (10-11 February) included a packed session on 'Putting political thinking into development practice'. And DLP’s Annual Conference at La Trobe University focused  on Power, Politics and Positive Deviance.

Opinion by Chris Roche 19th February 2016

More room for politics in the inequality debate?

This month at DLP our focus is largely on corruption as we prepare for a collaborative event in London discussing 'Corruption and development'. Yet we could hardly fail to notice that inequality, a hot topic since Pikettymania and the theme of our conference earlier in the year, has resurfaced with a vengeance.

Opinion by David Hudson 24th June 2015

Politics - the problem and solution to poor services?

One of the most influential and enduring World Development Reports ever produced – Making Services Work for Poor People – is a decade old this year.

Opinion by Claire Mcloughlin 13th March 2014

What is transformative leadership?

Guest post in University World News

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th April 2016

Is developmental patrimonialism a dead end?

A few years ago I was involved in a research project that looked at state-business relations and economic growth in post-independence Africa. One of our findings was that several African states had been able to grow strongly, for 15 years or more, despite the absence of what most people would describe as ‘good governance’. In states such as Kenya, Malawi, and Côte d’Ivoire, post-independence strongmen, ‘fathers’ of their nations, had presided over strong growth by curtailing multi-party democracy, centralizing economic rents via the patronage system and carving out some space for long-term technocratic planning. We called this ‘developmental patrimonialism’. 

Opinion by Tim Kelsall 27th September 2016

The practicalities of change - positive deviance and land reform in Vanuatu

This guest post by Anna Naupa draws on her Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture, presented at the DLP Annual Conference 2016: Power, Politics and Positive Deviance. It is the perspective of Anna Naupa and not that of any organisation with which she is, or has been, affiliated.

Opinion by Anna Naupa 13th April 2016

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more

News

Doing Development Differently workshop - Jakarta 2017

Thursday 30th March 2017

Putting the concept of Thinking and Working Politically into practice was at the heart of a workshop on 15-16 March attended by more than 200 delegates from the field of international development. Delegates from the government, civil service and local organisations of the host country, Indonesia, were joined by academics, including DLP researchers, and staff from donor organisations and NGOs.

Read more

DLP shares research at FCO Africa Study Day

Monday 27th March 2017

DLP findings on the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the topics discussed with with UK diplomats and civil servants at the FCO's Africa Study Day, held at Sandhurst on 21 March. This year's Foreign and Commonwealth Office event was organised by University of Birmingham's International Development Department, home to DLP.

Read more

Follow: @dlprog