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Reducing Bureaucratic Corruption: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on What Works (WP-17-20)

Jordan Gans-Morse, Mariana Borges, Alexey Makarin, Theresa Mannah Blankson, Andre Nickow, Dong Zhang

This article offers the first comprehensive review of the interdisciplinary state of knowledge regarding anti-corruption policies, with a particular focus on reducing corruption among civil servants. Drawing on the work of economists, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, the researchers examine seven categories of anti-corruption strategies: (1) rewards and penalties; (2) monitoring; (3) restructuring bureaucracies; (4) screening and recruiting; (5) anti-corruption agencies; (6) educational campaigns; and (7) international agreements. Notably, rigorous empirical evaluation is lacking for the majority of commonly prescribed anti-corruption strategies. Nevertheless, they find growing evidence of the effectiveness of anti-corruption audits and e-governance. In addition, adequate civil service wages seem to be a necessary but insufficient condition for control of corruption. An emerging skepticism regarding the effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies also is apparent in the literature. The researchers conclude with broader lessons drawn from the review, such as the recognition that when corruption is a systemic problem, it cannot be treated in the long-term with individual-level solutions.
This working paper has been published in World Development.

Jordan Gans-Morse, Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

Mariana Borges, Graduate Student, Northwestern University

Alexey Makarin, IPR Graduate Research Assistant, Northwestern University

Theresa Mannah Blankson, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Andre Nickow, Graduate Student, Northwestern University

Dong Zhang, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Lingnan University

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