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 summary of the literature on the efficacy of geographic staff rotation in preventing corruption in the customs sector.


Geographic staff rotation is widely used by customs administrations to periodically rotate their officials across work locations in order to prevent the formation of new or disrupt existing corrupt relationships. This Helpdesk Answer evaluates the efficacy of this measure, concluding it has the potential to reduce corrupt outcomes, but also that it can give rise to significant operational implications and be ineffective or counterproductive if not carefully and fairly implemented.


1. Introduction

2. Staff rotation policies

3. The efficacy of staff rotation in preventing and countering corruption

4. The limitations and risks of staff rotation in preventing and countering corruption

5. Operational implications of staff rotation

6. Conclusion

Main Points

  • Geographic staff rotation is an established practice used in the customs sector to prevent the formation of new or disrupt existing relationships that lead to corruption.
  • Almost only economic models and laboratory experiments suggest that rotation can be effective in reducing the incidence and volume of bribes exchanged between a client and public official.
  • The measure may be limited to target entrenched networks and relationships underpinned by social norms.
  • Rotation may lead to an increase in corruption if not implemented fairly and deliberately.
  • It carries significant operational implications, such as a burden on resources and potentially causing short and long-term efficiency losses.
  • A one-size fits all approach to geographic staff rotation should be avoided and it should be implemented carefully with an eye to contextual factors and in tandem with other integrity measures/safeguards.


Jamie Bergin

[email protected]


Caitlin Maslen (TI)

Celine Pinzio (TI)

Guillaume Nicaise (U4)




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