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CJL Convenes Anti-Corruption Experts in New ‘Thinking Together’ Event

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6 Jun 2020

How do Social Norms Affect Public Authorities?

In the first installment of our new ‘Thinking Together’ events, CJL brought together a group of anti-corruption experts from U4, Accountability Lab, Integrity Action, former DFID, Integrity Action, and the Basel Institute. In this conversation, we posed a few questions we’re puzzling over as one component of our ongoing collaboration with CARE Nederland and its partners:

  • How do social norms impact public officials?

  • Is there something qualitatively different about a ‘social norm’ within a bureaucratic institution, as compared to the norms held more broadly in a community?

  • When we think about norms related to corrupt patterns of behavior, do different public authorities (technical v political, junior v senior) experience them differently? What are the differences that make a difference?

  • Given the hierarchies and power structures inherent in bureaucracies, how are these norms sustained, formally and informally? What generates the fear associated with breaching the norm? What is different about this fear, as compared to a broader community?

Facilitated by our team, this event offered us the opportunity to share our learnings so far with researchers and practitioners involved in similar work, as well as think collectively through some key questions. While we may have left the session with more questions than answers, we learned quite a bit of nuance – and also realized we are asking the right questions.

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