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.