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.


I would like to understand the scope of any research linking the implementation of structural adjustment or rapid privatisation programmes led by international finance institutions to the growth of corruption and economic crime.


The implementation and outcomes of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), promoted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to help countries all around the world overcome their economic crises, have generated significant controversy. The SAPs’ impact on the economic development and levels of corruption of those countries are of special concern. Regarding corruption, the literature presents two main positions: one, the anti-corruption discourse legitimises and justifies the need for SPAs. Two, SAPs do not actually reduce corruption but they exacerbate it. Contextual conditions and interactions of SAPs with other policies make it difficult to establish a direct causal relationship between SAPs and levels of corruption, but studies show that aspects associated with those economic reforms have exacerbated corruption risks


The link between SAPs and corruption
How anti-corruption legitimises SAPs
How SAPs can exacerbate corruption

Main points

  • SAPs can potentially increase corruption at the same time that they can be legitimised by anti-corruption discourses.
  • The phase of implementation of SAPs is especially vulnerable to corruption.
  • The level of corruption in a country can also influence the success of SAPs


Nieves Zúñiga


Saul Mullard, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre




Close search

Responsive versions of the site in progress.