Background studies

World Bank Group. 2017. Citizens as Drivers of Change: How Citizens Practice Human Rights to Engage with the State and Promote Transparency and Accountability. Washington, DC: World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldban...

This report uses three case studies to analyse the role of citizen engagement to reduce corruption in service delivery: in Afghanistan, improving education outcomes through community-based monitoring of schools; in Paraguay, monitoring sovereign wealth fund resources allocated to education to improve the infrastructure of marginalised schools; and in Serbia, promoting transparency and the integrity of physicians to reduce corruption in the health sector. The report concludes with recommendations for citizen engagement in the international development practice.  

Ezequiel Molina, Laura Carella, Ana Pacheco, Guillermo Cruces, Leonardo Gasparini. 2016. Community Monitoring Interventions to Curb Corruption and Increase Access and Quality of Service Delivery in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review.https://www.campbellcollaborat...

This report reviews 15 quantitative studies examining the effects of 23 community monitoring interventions (CMIs) in the areas of information campaigns, scorecards, social audits, combined information campaigns and scorecards in low- and middle-income countries. Most studies focused on interventions in the education sector, followed by health, infrastructure and employment promotion. While evidence was found for CMIs having beneficial effects on reducing corruption and improving the quality of service delivery, it proved difficult to identify the mechanisms through which these effects come about. The study identifies the need for adequate information and tools to assist citizens in the process of monitoring. Further research on these mechanisms and their moderating effect on the effectiveness of CMIs is needed.  

Hasan Muhammad Baniamin. 2015. Controlling Corruption through E-Governance: Case Evidence from Bangladesh. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute. U4 Brief 2015:5.  

This U4 Brief looks at the potential of e-governance to reduce corruption in service delivery. It features a case study on Bangladesh, which established e-governance for delivering some key government services. The author suggests that the effectiveness of e-governance varies according to its type and the nature of corruption (in this case the introduction of electronic and mobile ticketing for the Bangladesh Railway and district web portals for district land administration in Bangladesh), and tends to be more effective in dealing with petty corruption involving street-level bureaucrats than in dealing with grand corruption involving higher-level officials. The paper concludes that merely introducing e‑governance is insufficient for controlling corruption, as the nature and maturity of e-governance matters. Although e-governance can potentially improve monitoring of public services, whether it does depend on the effectiveness of related law enforcement efforts, among other factors.  

David Hall. 2012. Corruption and Public Services.

This paper analyses major forms of corruption in public services, ranging from petty corruption at the point of service delivery to state capture. In particular, Hall finds that the privatisation and outsourcing of public services provided many opportunities and incentives for corruption. It then reviews the role of international actors such as the World Bank, the OECD and foreign governments in fighting corruption and their limitations. It concludes with recommendations, arguing that ending corruption requires public and political organising to demand that political leaders represent public interests, not the interests of rich and powerful elites and companies, and to hold them accountable. Transparency, accountability and public participation are key elements in this process as well as are strong and independent systems of audit, and courts prepared to prosecute, fine and ban corrupt companies and officials.  

Dena Ringold, Alaka Holla, Margaret Kozio, Santhosh Srinivasan. 2012. Citizens and Service Delivery Assessing the Use of Social Accountability Approaches in Human Development. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

This report looks at the use of social accountability in the human development sectors – health, education and social protection. As citizens frequently interaction with service providers, they can influence the quality of service delivery provided they have access to information about their rights and the type and quality of services they should expect. Learning from the experiences gained from the implementation of World Bank projects, this review identifies lessons, knowledge gaps, and questions for further research while documenting a diverse set of cases including the rapid adoption of access to information laws, the use of public expenditure,  tracking surveys by civil society organisations to “follow the money” from central government budgets to schools and health clinics, and the incorporation of grievance redress mechanisms into the design of conditional cash transfer programmes.  

Transparency International. 2010. Gender and Corruption in Service Delivery: The Unequal Impacts.

Women and men are affected differently by corruption. Corruption exerts a particularly severe impact on women and girls due to power imbalances, their greater reliance on public service provision, level of participation in public life and lack of access to resources. There are also gender specific forms of corruption. These risks are particularly acute in service delivery in developing countries. Corruption in the provision of basic services, such as health and education, can have disproportionate and negative consequences for women and girls. It can seriously compromise their access to quality schools and clinics, their own social and economic empowerment and even their country’s prospects for growth, gender equality and wider social change. Corruption directly thwarts progress in all these areas by exacerbating poverty and gender gaps. In developing countries, the effects can be stark when basic services are of low quality and gender inequalities are already high.  

John C. Bertot, Paul T Jaegar, and Justin M. Grimes. 2010. Using ICTs to Create a Culture of Transparency: E-Government and Social Media as Openness and Anticorruption Tools for Societies.

Bertot, Jaegar and Grimes’ article is an essential reference for researchers and practitioners looking to evaluate the utility and usefulness of ICTs as an anti-corruption strategy. The article begins by outlining the core principles that have inspired the push towards ICTs in governance, claiming that the use of ICTs is the natural progression of the open government movement. The article outlines the different types of initiatives in place, ranging from social media and crowdsourcing platforms to e-government. The authors provide appropriate examples that illustrate their use in practical situations. The article concludes with a sober look at the future of ICTs and barriers which might hinder their proliferation or their usefulness in different contexts.  

Ruhiiga Tabukeli Musigi. 2009. Costing the Impact of Corruption on Service Delivery in South Africa: An Exploratory Overview.  

This article presents an exploratory overview of the challenges of corruption in service delivery with specific reference to impact and cost. It surveys the theory of corruption, South Africa's relative ranking in terms of corruption perception, provides details on the institutional weaknesses in anti-corruption efforts and introduces a methodology for costing corruption. An interactive multiplier mechanism has been developed that could be used to quantify the cost of corruption. The article argues that the approach could then provide foundation tools for confronting corruption in an integrated and holistic manner. The significance of the discussion lies in its identification of a research agenda providing potential areas of focus and, in developing a methodology allowing for a systematic approach in the costing of corruption in service delivery.  

Daniel Kaufmann, Judit Montoriol-Garriga, Francesca Recanatini. 2008. How does Bribery Affect Public Service Delivery? Micro-Evidence from Service Users and Public Officials in Peru.

This paper explores the price and quantity components of the relationship between governance and service delivery using micro-level survey data. The authors construct new measures of governance using data from users of public services from 13 government agencies in Peru. For some basic services, low-income users pay a larger share of their income in bribes than wealthier users do; that is, the bribery tax is regressive. Where there are substitute private providers, low-income users appear to be discouraged more often and not to seek basic services. Thus, bribery may penalise poorer users twice – acting as a regressive tax and then as a discriminating mechanism for access to basic services.  

Serdar Yilmaz, Yakup Beris, and Rodrigo Serrano-Berthet. 2008. Local Government Discretion and Accountability: A Diagnostic Framework for Local Governance. http://siteresources.worldbank...

This paper presents a conceptual framework to better analyse the factors that are likely to improve local governance. As decentralisation reforms grant local governments new powers and political, administrative and fiscal responsibilities, there is a need to introduce effective accountability systems, combining upward accountability to downward accountability to citizens. Public accountability mechanisms focused on effective, efficient, transparent and rules-based public financial management safeguard against misuse and abuse of local discretion, but they have imperfections. New forms of social accountability mechanisms, which enable direct engagement of citizens with government in budgeting and expenditure processes, can complement these approaches for better service delivery.  

Andrew Sunil Rajkumar and Vinaya Swaroop. 2007. Public Spending and Outcomes: Does Governance Matter?

This article analyses whether increases in public spending lead to improved outcomes when factoring in governance quality. The authors run a series of regressions and show that governance is an important factor when considering the utility and effectiveness of public spending. In other words, the efficacy of public spending can be largely explained by the quality of governance. Public health spending leads to better health and education outcomes in countries with good governance while public spending has virtually no impact in poorly governed countries. The authors conclude the paper by evaluating the implications these findings have on international development projects and health and education systems in the developing world, claiming that an increased focus on governance might lead to greater effectiveness of service delivery.  

Klaus Deininger and Paul Mpuga. 2005. Does Greater Accountability Improve the Quality of Public Service Delivery? Evidence from Uganda.

This article assesses whether there is a correlation between accountability mechanisms and the quality of public services. Using a large dataset from Uganda, the authors find that household knowledge on how to report inappropriate behaviour by bureaucrats and unsatisfactory quality of services makes a marked difference in the incidence of corruption and is also associated with significant improvements in service quality.  

Junaid Ahmad, Shantayanan Devarajan, Stuti Khemani, and Shekhar Shah. 2005. Decentralization and Service Delivery. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3603, May 2005.

This World Bank working paper provides a good overview of the debate around corruption and decentralisation. The paper looks at how governance issues play into the debate and if service quality is affected by decentralisation. The authors provide a detailed account of different studies that show the effects of decentralisation on the quality of services. While meant to be an informative study, the authors find common threads in the research, namely that good governance and accountability in government management systems are essential to improve the quality of services at any level of government.


Iñaki Albisu Ardigó; Marie Chêne


Matthew Jenkins

Contributing experts:

Umrbek Allakulov (Water Integrity Network)

Shaazka Beyerle (US Institute of Peace)

Simone Bloem (Center for Applied Policy)

Claire Grandadam (Water Integrity Network)

Jacques Hallak (Jules Verne University – Amiens)

Mihaylo Milovanovitch (Centre For Applied Policy)

Muriel Poisson (International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO)

Juanita Riano (Inter-American Development Bank)

Marc Y. Tassé (Canadian Centre of Excellence for Anti-Corruption)

Vítězslav Titl (University of Siegen)

Davide Torsello (Central European University Business School)

Patty Zakaria (Royal Roads University)



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