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Effectively evaluating anti-corruption interventions

Tailoring the approach to the challenge

Evaluating anti-corruption interventions is not easy. Challenges include how to accurately measure corruption and changes in corruption; prove causation and contribution; and to fairly and fully gauge results and sustainability. Combating corruption is a complex, long-term undertaking. The possibility of unintended consequences and backlashes is ever present. Evaluators should ensure their methodology is designed to overcome theme-specific challenges.

17 July 2022
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Effectively evaluating anti-corruption interventions

Main points

  • Corruption is a complex and clandestine phenomenon, sustained by underlying drivers, entrenched interests, and power relations. Subsequently, evaluating anti-corruption interventions presents a myriad of challenges.
  • Evaluation methodology must consider the difficulty of accurately measuring corruption and changes in corruption; stakeholders’ potential reluctance to discuss the topic honestly and openly; the problem of proving causation and contribution; the time taken to achieve an impact; and the likelihood of unintended consequences and backlashes.
  • Conventional anti-corruption approaches have not consistently yielded anticipated results. Assessment of effectiveness, impact, and sustainability should therefore include whether the intervention aligns with the latest and local thinking on corruption and anti-corruption measures.
  • Evaluations can contribute to filling the anti-corruption evidence gap. It is possible to carry out a high-quality impact evaluation, even with budget and data limitations, by appreciating the range of methods available – including those particularly appropriate for complex interventions.
  • Evaluations that focus on impact and sustainability should gauge whether the anti-corruption intervention contributes to wider, and deeper, change. With widespread or systemic corruption, eliminating a specific corrupt practice is not enough. The root causes of corruption need to be addressed in order to bring about systems change.

Cite this publication

Wathne, C. (2022) Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2022:6)

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About the author

Cecilie Wathne

Cecilie Wathne led U4’s thematic work on Measurement and Evaluation from 2018 to 2020. She has been the head of planning, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning at the Norwegian NGO Strømme Foundation. She has also worked as a researcher at the Overseas Development Institute on issues related to aid effectiveness and accountability. Wathne holds an MSc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford and a BSc in Economics, a BA in Political Science and a Certificate in Quantitative Methods from the University of Washington. She has undertaken fieldwork in over a dozen countries in Asia and Africa.


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