18. July 2019

Exploring social norms and corruption at CARE Netherlands round table

Social norms and shame
Representation of social status and shame, which can play a large role in driving corrupt behaviour

Public governance experts and other practitioners are increasingly interested in the role of social norms and cultural codes in driving – or preventing – behaviour, including corrupt behaviour, and shaping the governance capacity of public and administrative bodies.

This was evident at a round table on 1 July 2019, organised by CARE Netherlands and attended by Senior Research Fellow with the Basel Institute's Public Governance team, Jacopo Costa. The participants, including experts working across Africa, Asia and Latin America on topics including gender equality, the inclusion of women and children in society, violence against women and healthcare policies, are working with CARE Netherlands on the four-year Every Voice Counts project. 

The participants discussed how the implementation of concepts such as public governance, accountability, responsiveness, transparency and participatory democracy is shaped by the social norms that operate in different local contexts.

Jacopo Costa presented the findings of the Public Governance team's research on corruption, social norms and behaviours in East Africa, as well as a follow-on project aimed at developing a behavioural intervention to address bribery in the Tanzanian health sector.

The participants' interest in how social norms and networks can be harnessed to design more effective anti-corruption interventions echoes a growing recognition of the importance of understanding these informal mechanisms and the local contexts in which they operate.