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.


Please provide a synthesis of the literature on the effectiveness of integrity led interventions.


In recent years, an influential scholarly school of thought has emerged in the field of anti-corruption, which emphasises the need to encourage positive behaviour instead of an “excessive” focus on direct measures aimed at countering corruption head-on.

This paper considers the evidence base on whether integrity led interventions have been able to reduce corruption. It finds little evidence that integrity oriented approaches, such as training, integrity awards or codes of conduct, can lower corruption where these are not paired with robust enforcement mechanisms. On the other hand, there is some indication that ethical leadership, behavioural nudging and to some extent anti-corruption messaging can help to reduce corruption in certain settings.

The most promising results seem to come from interventions that raise the (material) costs of corruption while simultaneously increasing the (social-normative) benefits of behaving ethically. As such, certain integrity led interventions can provide a useful complement to direct anti-corruption measures but appear unlikely to work if applied in isolation.


  1. Introduction
  2. The case for integrity centred approaches
    1. Strong theory, patchy evidence?
  3. Integrity led interventions: An evidence review
    1. Integrity training
    2. Ethical leadership
    3. Peer group role models
    4. Addressing social norms through ‘nudges’
    5. Anti-corruption awareness raising campaigns
    6. Ombuds offices
    7. Codes of conduct
    8. Integrity oaths
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


Matthew Jenkins (TI) [email protected]


Peter J. Evans, David Jackson, and Guillaume Nicaise (U4)




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