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.