Building political will

Contextual choices in fighting corruption. Mungiu-Pippidi, A. et al. 2011. Norway: Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).  

This report argues that the quest for public integrity is mostly a political one, between predatory elites in a society and its losers. Effective and sustainable good governance policies therefore need to diminish the political and material resources of corruption and build normative constraints in the form of domestic collective action. The authors argue that most of the anti-corruption strategies so far have focused on increasing legal constraints, which often fail because most interventions are localised in societies that lack the rule of law. In one of the final chapters, this report also contains specific recommendations for the donor community on how to play its role in fostering good governance in a more strategic way.  

Is it better to empower the people or the authorities? Assessing the conditional effects of “top-down” and “bottom-up” anti-corruption interventions. Hollyer, J.R. 2011. in D. Serra and L. Wantchekon (eds.), New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption (Research in Experimental Economics, Volume 15)  

This chapter analyses the circumstances under which bottom-up and top-down anti-corruption interventions can be effective and identifies some factors that are conducive to the success of either forms of intervention. The author shows that anti-corruption efforts do not directly affect corruption levels, rather the effect of these treatments is mediated through the behaviour of political actors. The causal chain linking the intervention to corruption outcomes is longest when bottom-up designs are applied: the interventions target citizens’ behaviour, which must influence politicians who in turn influence bureaucrats. But, the effect of top-down interventions is also mediated by the behaviour of politicians or officials charged with oversight roles. Political institutions that govern the relationships between citizens, politicians, watchdogs and bureaucrats are therefore likely to play an important role in conditioning the effectiveness of both forms of anti-corruption interventions.  

Unpacking the concept of political will to confront corruption. Brinkerhoff, D.W. 2010. U4 Policy Brief, Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.  

In this brief, the author offers a general overview of his previous work on political will and how to assess it. Following the theoretical discussion regarding the importance of government capacity and other factors to understand political will, the author provides a list of possible top-down and bottom‑up strategies for donors to build political will for anti-corruption reforms.  

Governance reform under real world conditions: Citizens stakeholders and voice. Odugbemi, S. and Jacobson, T. 2008. Washington DC: World Bank.  

This book demonstrates to a broad audience – particularly governments, think tanks, civil society organisations and development agencies – the ways in which communication research can help address development challenges, particularly in the area of governance reform. The book provides innovative solutions to six key challenges in governance reform, including how to secure political will, presenting theoretical frameworks as well as practical approaches and techniques to address these challenges.  

Romanian coalition for a clean parliament: A quest for political integrity. Mungiu-Pippidi, A., 2005. ERCAS Working Papers, Berlin: European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building.  

This paper provides a detailed description of an anti-corruption campaign that took place in Romania in 2004 and which prevented nearly one hundred controversial MPs from being re‑elected. The author describes how civil society became organised to create a coalition of relevant stakeholders to fight against corruption in a context characterised by predatory political elites, high state capture, constituencies with low civic competence and low interest in politics.  

Making anti-corruption agencies more effective. Pope, J. and Vogl, F. 2000. Finance and Development.  

National anti-corruption agencies can be critical in preventing corruption before it becomes rampant, but this article claims that such agencies are difficult to set up and often fail to achieve their goals once they have been established. The authors claim that the main problem with these agencies is that they may be so bound to the political elite that they will not dare to investigate the most corrupt government officials. Moreover, they may lack the power to prosecute or they may be poorly staffed. The paper shows the role of political will in building anti-corruption agencies and underlines the role that international organisations can take to contribute to the success of these agencies.


Roberto Martínez B. Kukutschka


Marie Chêne, Finn Heinrich, PhD, Transparency International, Carmen Malena, CIVICUS



Close search

Responsive versions of the site in progress.