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Disaggregation of corruption types & their analysis

Corruption is not one phenomenon, but many different sorts of abuse, minor and major, all aggregated together. Disaggregation between the different types of corruption is essential in order to tailor the reform measures to the specific problem. In CurbingCorruption we advocate two-levels of disaggregation: First by Sector, second by specific corruption type.

1.1 Corruption typologies in six sectors

This sector-specific typology gets us away from unhelpful binary classifications like grand/petty, need/greed, political/ bureaucratic, institutional/individual all vanish. All the corruption types are in the one typology

In making this disaggregation we have to strike a balance between defining a ‘reasonable’ number of distinct corruption types whilst not making the number unmanageably large. We end up with between 10 and 50 in each sector, with the typical number being 30 corruption types. These are then grouped into 5 or 6 different categories, such as corruption at policy level, corruption related to finance and budgets, corruption related to field operations or service delivery, corruption related to the management of personnel and corruption types related to procurement.

Here are five more typologies. The details for each one are to be found in the relevant sector.



 Construction project typology (from U4) 


1.2 Analysing the corruption types in your circumstances

Doing this analysis can be a two-hour exercise or it can be a six month one. The quick way is always attractive. Your own staff are usually well aware of the corruption issues, often with extensive experience of working in large, complex, bureaucratic environments. Hence, they are likely to be the best informed about what the corruption problems are, which ones can be tackled, and which ones need to be left for later. You might give them the list of corruption from the relevant sector review in CurbingCorruption and ask a group of them to analyse which are the more relevant ones and their relative importance. This simple approach has the advantage that you can quickly capture the ‘top of mind’ knowledge of your senior professionals. It has some disadvantages, notably that it is likely to focus on the more immediate issues.

In the mid-range, you may have specialist groups with extra knowledge, like internal audit groups, regulatory agencies and professional fraud groups. Together with external groups like community groups, private sector associations and civil society, you can get a more inclusive analysis done, still quite quickly. It has the same disadvantages as above.

At the most thorough end of the spectrum, you can get a detailed analysis done by groups with professional anti-corruption knowledge, if possible combined with sector expertise. These groups might sit within universities, or civil society, or think tanks. Such analyses are likely to take from two months to six months. In large initiatives, there are several analytical techniques you can consider, as mentioned below. There is also an obvious and often sizeable political advantage to having a thorough, independent analysis done of the corruption issues and risks. If you have time and funds, we recommend that you do a thorough analysis.

1.3 Formal analysis methodologies you can use

There are lots of different methodologies and names for corruption analysis tools, but they all do much the same thing. They aim to develop concrete insights regarding forms of corruption, the extent of each, and the vulnerabilities in the particular sector or agencies or functions. The purpose is to focus the application of practical prevention measures. They use a simple methodology. First, they identify the underlying laws, regulations, and guidelines governing the target agency or function.

Then, they identify the main processes; Identify key steps (both formal and informal) for each business process; Assess strengths and vulnerabilities to corruption of each step (based on weaknesses in the formal system and weaknesses in the capacity/ incentives to implement the formal system).

Then they make some estimation of the scale of each one, usually through survey information. They might be able to access existing surveys that provide information on the perceived scale of the corruption types, or they may commission a survey, or they may do their own. These can be small – a ‘straw poll’ of 50 people – or they can be large. One analysis that I have been involved in, of Education corruption in Afghanistan, developed its own survey data from 550 interviews.

Here are three such analysis techniques: Vulnerability to Corruption Analysis (VCA), Public expenditure tracking surveys (PETS) and Quantitative Service Delivery Surveys (QSDS).  There are others that are more community based, such as citizen report cards.

Three formal corruption analysis techniques – Read more

1.4 Doing a Political Economy analysis

Regarding the factors driving the corruption in each sector, you and your colleagues are likely to know the political and power context. It is valuable to consider this more formally. Who is gaining from each corruption type and why?  Who might gain, who might lose from reducing corruption in this specific area? For each corruption type, who are your supporters are and who are the possible spoilers.

Doing such a ‘Political Economy Analysis’ means that these issues are laid out in a structured way and can help decide which corruption types you should address. It will also help when you put together the overall strategy that fits best with your specific context. This is discussed further in Step 3 – Develop your overall strategy.

Here are three simple guides to doing a political economy analysis. You can commission someone to do the analysis formally, or you can follow the steps yourself for an informal analysis.

If you want to go into more detail, look at the following:

  •  OECD 2015 A governance practitioner’s notebook: alternative ideas and approaches (on politics, public sector reform and stakeholder engagement); Tools for political economy analysis from the EU(2008).
  • Hudson and Leftwich 2014 From political economy to political analysis; and 
  • World Bank 2008 The political economy of policy reform: Issues and implications for policy dialogue and development operations.
  • Khan et al (2016) Anti-corruption in adverse contexts: a strategic approach.


Ang, Yuen Yuen (2014) Authoritarian restraints on on-line activism revisited. Why I-paid-a-bribe worked in India but failed in China. Comparative Politics 47(1), 21-40.

Effective States Institute and inclusive Development Research Centre (2015) Making political analysis useful: adjustment and scaling.

European Commission (2008) Tools for political economy analysis. Annex A.

Hudson, David, Marquette, Heather and Waldock, Sam (2016) Everyday political analysis. Development Leadership Program, January 2016.

Khan, Mushtaq, Andreoni, Antonio, Roy, Pallavi (2016) Anti-corruption in adverse contexts: a strategic approach. SOAS Research Online.

Whaites, Alan (2017) The beginners guide to political economy analysis. National School of Government international.

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