Understanding success and failure of anti-corruption initiatives

Richard Heeks, Harald Mathisen

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This paper focuses on the success and failure of anti-corruption initiatives; focusing mainly on those in developing countries. Through a review of extant evidence, it finds a very mixed picture within which there is widespread failure; albeit sometimes only partial failure. As a result, anti-corruption as a field can struggle to gain attention and resources among competing development initiatives. In reviewing that field we find that, while some progress has been made - for example in integrating risk assessments into programs and in learning from political economy analysis - there is little actual focus on the "missing middle": the interventions themselves and how they can be made to work better. In analyzing those interventions, we argue that projects mostly fail because of over-large "design-reality gaps"; that is, too great a mismatch between the expectations built into their design as compared to on-the-ground realities in the context of their implementation. Successful initiatives find ways to minimize or close these gaps. Effective design and implementation processes enable gap closure and improve the likelihood of success. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-549
Number of pages16
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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