U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


What evidence is there for effective anti-corruption interventions in authoritarian contexts?


  1. Background

  2. The link between regime type and the levels of corruption

  3. Why do autocrats engage in anti-corruption?

  4. Anti-corruption reforms in Qatar

  5. Anti-corruption reforms in Rwanda

  6. Anti-corruption reforms in Singapore

  7. Lessons learned

  8. References


This U4 Expert Answer explores the strategies and policies used by authoritarian states to counter corruption. It provides an overview of the theory and evidence linking the type of government (democratic vs. autocratic) to the levels of corruption in a country. The answer then explores the potential reasons that could motivate an autocratic leader to engage in anti-corruption and provides three examples of successful transformations in authoritarian environments: Qatar, Rwanda and Singapore. The answer finds that even though autocracies are not necessarily better than democracies at controlling corruption, most successful transformations have occurred in democratic environments. Moreover, while certain autocracies have managed to control petty and bureaucratic corruption, other types of corruption, particularly those that can benefit the ruling elite, tend to remain unscathed


Roberto Martinez B. Kukutschka, [email protected]


Nieves Zuniga, [email protected]




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