Culture change

Embracing anti-corruption efforts throughout an organisation, area or industry.

Culture is dynamic and multi-faceted. Effective leadership can introduce the right tone at the top, but even change at the most senior level may not be enough to change an entire organisation’s culture. The focus of leaders and anti-corruption champions should be on results across all levels of a public organisation, not only on specific types of activity. 

A tried and tested model for cultural change management is the ADKAR model, which was developed with input from more than 1,000 organisations from 59 countries. The principles of ADKAR are:

  • Awareness – of why change is needed
  • Desire – to support and participate in the change process
  • Knowledge – of how to change things
  • Ability – to implement new skills and required changes in behaviour
  • Reinforcement – to sustain the change

The first step is to identify the problem and get the agreement to change through a shared vision of the future. Change usually starts small and spreads; ‘big-bangs’ often wither quickly. Above all, corruption mutates and countering it really is an evolving process, so be prepared to change again and again. Get the leadership, organisational skillset and culture right and the rest should follow. As co-founder of One Young World Kate Robertson stated in 2017: “… Nothing will change until leaders address the cycle of corruption”.

Examples and further resources

Engaging younger generations

Transparency International have produced some short videos on YouTube aimed at helping young people identify and fight corruption. Each video is less than two minutes long and is part of a suite of video resources.

Deploying behavioural science

The Behavioural Insights Team works in partnership with governments, businesses, foundations and charities to tackle major policy problems. They offer a range of services applying behavioural science to deliver social impact around the world.

Combating gift culture in Tanzania

A recent research project to decrease gift-giving in hospitals in Tanzania, funded by the FCDO through the Global Integrity - Anti-Corruption Evidence programme, developed and tested an intervention targeting both patients and health professionals. Champions recruited from among staff at the hospital received training through a workshop and continued support and the opportunity to connect with other champions through a WhatsApp group. Posters and desk signs in the health facility made salient the negative consequences of gift giving on equity and outlined steps for health professional to refuse gifts from patients without jeopardising the relationship.

The intervention was piloted in one hospital in Dar es Salaam. Preliminary findings suggest a decrease in reported gift giving among patients and the intention to give a gift in the future as well as a shift in social norms (eg a decrease in the belief that other patients will give a gift). 

Anti-corruption at sea

During its 10-year history, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) has reduced corruption risks in the maritime industry in countries like Nigeria, Argentina and Ukraine by engaging the whole value chain of the industry as well as government. MACN works towards its vision through three objectives:

  • Capability building: providing industry-leading innovative solutions to members.

  • Collective action: driving and leading sustainable change in the operating environment.

  • Collaboration: a recognised contributor and expert working in partnerships to raise the integrity standard for maritime trade.

Managing cultural change

The U4 Anti-Corruption resource centre have issued a report on different approaches to cultural change management. How change happens in anti-corruption: A map of policy perspectives sets out five different perspectives on how to achieve sustainable reductions in corruption and therefore potential new policy directions.

Zero-tolerance initiatives in Bolivia

In 1999, the incoming mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, made it his goal to stamp out corruption and transform the city. Juan Del Granado focused on accountability and transparency and developed a strategy to incentivise ethical behaviour by public officials, including a zero-tolerance approach to the slightest suggestion of corruption. New ways of reporting corruption were put in place for government officials, while the administration worked to improve the city’s economic position. Good practice was rewarded with public recognition to present a positive story of change and restore trust between civil servants and the public. Nieves Zúñiga and Paul M. Heywood outline these efforts in more detail in their article Cleaning up La Paz.

Integrity in public administration

The ANTICORRP project report Integrity and Integrity Management in Public Life addresses the issue of integrity management, as well as on the relationship between compliance-based and values-based approaches to ensuring high standards in public administration, with particular attention to the issues of culture and leadership in promoting appropriate models of integrity. The report builds on fieldwork in Bolivia and Rwanda, alongside relevant additional sources.

The whole-organisation approach

Anil Iyer’s article on tackling fraud and corruption for Infrastructure Intelligence outlines how important this issue is for the infrastructure industry and beyond, and the perspective shift required to address it:

“If you ask an early career or middle management professional the question: “Who should be detecting and dealing with fraud and corruption?”, a typical response is “We have accountants and lawyers who deal with that sort of thing”. Ask the same question about quality management, health and safety, sustainability, diversity and inclusivity, digital transformation or mentoring – all subjects which are integral to our day-to-day business – and the answer will probably be “all of us”.”