HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Guidance on Anti-Corruption Training Released
Natalia Gorbacheva, Vladislava Ozhereleva

The Anti-Corruption Resource Centre (U4) has released the analytical publication entitled Anti-corruption and integrity training: learning how to resist corruption.

The paper stresses that training aimed at promoting anti-corruption standards and ethical norms is one of anti-corruption measures. However, researches and practitioners still have limited understanding of which forms of training produce the desired results.

To address this challenge, the U4 experts explored 24 empirical studies and a number of meta-analytical studies published between 2013 and 2023.

The studies analysed had a number of methodological shortcomings, in particular:

  • Lack of exhaustive description of the assessed training initiatives in most studies;
  • Inability to achieve long-term results due to the short-term character of the studies whose duration rarely exceeded 18 months;
  • Almost total disregard of gender differences.

Even with these shortcomings, the findings of the studies analysed allowed the U4 experts to formulate certain conclusions.

1. Objectives of anti-corruption training

The U4 experts identify the following objectives of anti-corruption training:

  • Raise awareness of employees about the compliance information, provisions of codes of conduct, mission and vision of the body (organisation), which is aimed at ensuring that employees understand internal rules, norms and values of the body (organisation);
  • Inform employees about the external integrity and anti-corruption infrastructure such as help and hotlines, ombudsmen and support groups, which allows an employee to be aware of where to seek assistance on anti-corruption outside the working environment;
  • Ensure that employees have the understanding of potential integrity challenges, stemming, in particular, from:
  1. Corruption offences,
  2. Corruption risks relevant for certain target groups (their field of activity),
  3. Position of a certain employee,

and develop prepared and tailored reactions to specific scenarios;

  • Shape employees’ moral and ethical attitudes.

Specific training initiatives can formulate these objectives in a way or another, while their programme will be primarily defined by the risk profile determined by the sectoral, professional and country context.

2. Ways to measure the impact of anti-corruption training

The paper points out that the measurement of effectiveness of anti-corruption training can be done though the assessment of:

  • Satisfaction of participants, efficiency and responsiveness of training to the needs of its attendees, for example, through feedback;
  • Knowledge of trainees about corruption, ways to justify corruption offences, anti-corruption policy of the body (organisation) normally through tests;
  • Existing moral and ethical attitudes of attendees, in particular, their attitude to corruption and misconduct of their colleagues in general, attitude to ethical dilemmas etc., for instance through psychometric tests;
  • Degree of readiness to report corruption offences committed also by colleagues in the course of experimental cheating games;
  • Other indicators such as the number of complaints of trainees concerning their work, experience of interaction with a trained employee in the exercise of the professional duties through the use of so called “mystery shoppers” etc.

The assessments are paired with correlation analysis to determine whether exposure to ethics training is associated with specific attitudes or competencies related to integrity or corruption: for example, by comparing the performance of the attendees prior to and after the training, or by comparing their performance after the training with the performance of the employees from the control groups (who do not attend the training but reply to the same questions as its attendees).

The U4 experts underline that some of the studies analysed (for example, the studies on the impact of anti-corruption training on the attitudes of police officers in India and Mexico) triangulated the findings by combining treatment group assessments with survey data from external stakeholders and administrative data sources.

3. Recommendations on how to conduct anti-corruption training

In order to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption training, the authors of the publication recommend:

  • Developing learning initiatives with due regard for at least several objectives: the paper stresses that only one of them can be insufficient for ensuring comprehensive understanding of how to counter corruption offences by employees;
  • Paying close attention to the composition of the groups undergoing the training: for example, joint training of employees of different hierarchies can hamper an open dialogue;
  • Taking into account gendered corruption risks in developing and conducting training initiatives: the U4 experts underline that female employees can be in a more vulnerable position, for example, by being more exposed to sextortion;
  • Ensuring that the training process is under control of its organizers: for instance, in simulating behavioural scenarios implying offering of a remuneration to an employee throughout the training may result in creating patterns that are not in line with the objectives of the training if there is no proper guidance for the trainees;
  • Focusing on interactive formats, small groups and real cases, which provides the attendees with sufficient freedom of action to switch to the topics they consider as relevant; in this case it is necessary to take into account the importance of clear communication of the objectives of these forms of training and reflection on the outcomes to the trainees;
  • Creating an extensive support infrastructure implying, in particular, the possibility to request advice of experts and/or available updated resources; the most active trainees can be subsequently invited to hold mini-sessions to raise awareness of their colleagues;
  • Implementing innovative solutions with a view to establishing long-term support networks: these networks provide employees with the possibility to communicate, exchange experience and cooperate on anti-corruption and integrity issues. In Zambia, for example, a training of urban planners was focused on building lasting relations among its participants: this was done through such means as adding several social events to the training curriculum, creating a group in a messenger for attendees, and following up frequently after the training. Risk managers and corruption experts of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency take the lead to organise training sessions for their colleagues, sharing their experience on how to mitigate corruption risks and counter corruption at large.
Education and enlightenment

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