A New Approach to Anti-Corruption – When Rule-Breakers rule

This toolkit provides a step by step guide to analysing corruption problems and developing realistic and effective anti-corruption strategies in contexts where the rule of law is weak.

Over the past 5 years, the SOAS ACE programme has tested a number of different approaches in a range of countries and sectors to identify feasible and implementable anti-corruption strategies. SOAS ACE has identified three anti-corruption strategies which offer most potential for reducing corruption.

This toolkit developed by Pallavi RoyAgata Slota and Mushtaq Khan, provides detailed guidance to analysing corruption problems using a political settlements approach and examples of different methods that can be used to test and develop realistic and effective strategies to reduce corruption. The guide includes detailed case studies to illustrate how the approach has been used in practice in a number of different fields and countries.

It is aimed at policy-makers and practitioners looking to find solutions to deeply entrenched, often seemingly intractable corruption challenges.

Click here to access the toolkit
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Making anti-corruption real: using a ‘Power Capabilities and Interest Approach’ to stop wasting money and start making progress
This report synthesises the key insights from five years of SOAS ACE research identifying strategies for feasible and impactful anti-corruption.
Anti-corruption needs a radical rethink. After decades of effort, the massive costs of corruption continue to harm many countries, and corruption appears to be increasing in some. Even worse, anti-corruption efforts have often been corrupted, with anti-corruption and enforcement agencies extracting from citizens or using their powers to harass and pick up the opposition. Why have anti-corruption efforts not delivered stronger results, particularly when they seem to work in some countries? This paper examines these challenges and outlines a new approach to anticorruption which looks for opportunities where actors have, or are likely to have, the power, capabilities and interests to act against particular types of corruption.
Read the paper here or the two page summary


Journal article Absenteeism in primary health centres in Nigeria: leveraging power, politics and kinship
Primary health centres (PHCs) in Nigeria suffer critical shortages of health workers, aggravated by chronic absenteeism that has been attributed to insufficient resources to govern the system and adequately meet their welfare needs. However, the political drivers of this phenomenon are rarely considered. Our research found that the formal governance mechanisms to reduce absenteeism are insufficient, and building alliances (often informal) with local elites interested in improving service delivery locally may help to reduce interference by other powerful actors. Read the article here.


Journal article: De-risking private power in Bangladesh: How financing design can stop collusive contracting
Collusive contracting with private power plants in Bangladesh has resulted in high power prices that cost the taxpayer around U$1 billion in subsidies. The main driver of collusive contracting is the unwillingness of politically unconnected firms to engage in a high-risk environment. Our empirical analysis found that financing instruments with contestable subsidies from development finance institutions (DFIs) are associated with a 26% reduction in plant-level prices. Read the article here.


Latest SOAS-ACE publications

Briefing papers and think pieces:

Working papers:

Journal articles: