Reducing bureaucratic corruption: Interdisciplinary perspectives on what works

Jordan Gans-Morse*, Mariana Borges, Alexey Makarin, Theresa Mannah-Blankson, Andre Nickow, Dong Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


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, we examine seven policy categories: (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 policies. Nevertheless, we find growing evidence of the effectiveness of policies based on monitoring, including 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. We conclude with broader lessons drawn from our review, such as the recognition that when corruption is a systemic problem, it cannot be treated in the long term with individual-level solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Anti-corruption
  • Bureaucracy
  • Civil service
  • Corruption
  • Interdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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