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The key to better anti-corruption strategies is to conceive corruption reform differently. Think of it as a different mental model. Mental models are the images, assumptions and stories that we carry in our mind about every aspect of our world. They are often tacit and unexamined, below the surface, like icebergs. Yet they determine our behaviour.
In corruption reform, the front-line mindset is often that Corruption is a gigantic problem, woven into our context. Tackling it in my job will hurt me. I will target my energies elsewhere. Partly true, of course, but in working across many countries and sectors, we have identified an alternative approach.
Why? Front-line reformers understand their sector (health, education, telecoms, policing, etc). They understand the economic incentives that drive their sector, the language of their sector, the social norms that govern peoples’ behaviour, the political specificities of the sector. There is also usually ownership and pride among those working in any given sector, powerful motivators if ways can be found to harness them. Even in the toughest corruption environments, where progress may only be possible in tiny steps, there are many sector improvement measures that can help, and which can form the basis of a much larger improvement when circumstances change.
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