Mushtaq Khan and Paul Heywood on Anti-Corruption Evidence (Podcast – part one)

In this podcast ICRN’s Christopher Starke speaks to Prof Mushtaq Khan and Prof Paul Heywood about their respective approaches to anti-corruption. To start us off, both explain what it is that fascinates them about researching corruption in their respective career paths.

The next section of the interview takes a deep dive into the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Programme. ACE was initiated after concerns about the lack of evaluation of development projects and the risk of development spending being lost due to corruption were voiced. As a response DfID developed Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE), which has two parts: the SOAS-ACE research partnership consortium led by Mushtaq Khan and GI-ACE led by Paul Heywood, which consists of grants competition for leading international researchers to examine the most effective ways to fight corruption.

Mushtaq explains how SOAS-ACE shares a common theory of change among all its research projects with a focus on Nigeria, Tanzania and Bangladesh. He argues that the reason why many anti-corruption efforts have failed lies in the assumption that most people in developing countries follow rules and a few greedy people break the rules. The common approach has then been to find and punish these “bad apples” in order to get rid of corruption. SOAS-ACE however starts from the assumption that in many developing nations, people do not have the capacities to follow rules leading to a large informal sector. Also politics in developing nations is different. There is less tax revenue in developing nations, leading to more clientelism. In order to then bring about anti-corruption one has to identify the demand for anti-corruption. That is, finding organisations which need a rule of law in their own interest and are powerful enough to demand it. He then outlines how the rule of law is different from rule by law and how economics can help to identify a market for anti-corruption.

Paul in turn outlines the approach of GI-ACE, which has four features: a) focus on anti-corruption, b) focus on real-world problems and real issues, c) politics of anti-corruption, and d) demonstrating impact. It marks a swing towards local problem-driven approaches. In this work GI-ACE is focused on three core themes, namely international architecture enabling illicit financial flows, promoting integrity and moving away from nations as units of analysis.

In the final part, the Professors debate on the potential cross-fertilisation between the two different approaches. Listen to find out more.

The podcast was produced and made available by KickBack – The Global Anticorruption Podcast.