Islands of Integrity: Anti-Corruption Research to Guide the Way

Johannes Tonn
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Event here at the Open Gov Hub coming up

About this event

Corruption researchers tend to focus a lot of attention on why systemically corrupt countries fail to improve and why anticorruption efforts often fall flat. As such, the field has had a difficult time identifying and explaining how positive change happens in order to inspire new and more effective anti-corruption interventions.

Recent research by Heather Marquette and Caryn Peiffer focuses on the opposite: potential success stories in anti-corruption. Using a novel three-step methodology developed to identify previously hidden ‘positive outliers’, they look at sectors within a country that have successfully reduced bribery against the odds in otherwise systemically corrupt countries. Having identified up to 18 potential cases, they drill down in two ‘positive outlier’ cases – Uganda’s health sector and South Africa’s police – to uncover the political processes and policies that have been responsible for bribery reduction in each case. In doing so, they draw out lessons about how positive changes happened and what can be learned for more successful anti-corruption interventions.

However, their success cases also highlight some important tensions that raise red flags for future interventions, and they look at important lessons from these as well.

We look forward to welcoming Heather Marquette to present the findings and to discuss the potential implications for anti-corruption policy and practice together with Francesca Recanatini from the World Bank.



Prof. Heather Marquette is Principal Investigator on the ‘Islands of Integrity’ project, which is funded by the British Academy/Global Challenges Research Fund Sustainable Development Programme. She is Professor in Development Politics at the University of Birmingham’s International Development Department, and Senior Research Fellow (Governance & Conflict) at DFID. A political scientist by training, she has extensive international experience in research, policy advice, consultancy and training on the politics of development, governance, corruption, political analysis, and aid policy. Her research includes work on Afghanistan, Ghana, India, Kenya and Nigeria. Her work has been published in Governance, Third World Quarterly, Political Studies, and Public Administration & Development, among others, and she is the author of Corruption, Politics and Development: The Role of the World Bank (Palgrave Macmillan).



Francesca Recanatini has worked on institution building and corruption since the beginning of her career at the Center of Institutional Reforms and Informal Sector (IRIS). Throughout her career, she has focused on integrating issues of governance, corruption and institution building in development. She joined the World Bank in 1998 and has worked in several countries in Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East to support the design and implementation of governance reforms through in-depth data collection and coalition building. Currently she is working on institution building, corruption and governance indicators in High-income and Fragile countries in the Middle East. She has published several papers on indicators, corruption and governance, contributing recently to Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Role? edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Carrington (September 2013); to the Global Handbook on Research and Practice in Corruption, Adam Graycar, editor (January 2012); and to the International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Susan Rose-Ackerman and Tina Soreide, eds. (December 2011). She is currently a Member of the EU Group of Experts on Corruption and holds a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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Johannes Tonn
Johannes Tonn
Director, Integrity & Anti-corruption

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