Improving service delivery and levels of integrity
'Accountability through practical norms: Civil service reform in Africa from below' (2016-2017) was part of the Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme funded by the British Academy and the Department for International Development (DFID) (£399,000).
The project explored ways to improve service delivery and levels of integrity by drawing on empirical evidence on practical informal norms in key government departments (health and education) in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo, Niger, Tanzania and Malawi.
It is the first comparative, cross-country study employing anthropological and socio-legal methods at a large scale to generate systematic empirical evidence on practical norms covering francophone and Anglophone countries in two regions, West and East Africa.
Practical informal norms at shop-floor level play an important role in regulating bureaucratic practices in settings where there is a wide discrepancy between official rules and lived realities. This might be negative, justifying or facilitating corrupt practices, but it might also be positive, resulting in hubs of integrity.
An anthropological approach
Drawing on an anthropological approach the project contributed to a shift in focus from naming and shaming to the development of a more positive approach emphasising integrity and public service delivery.
For example, the parliamentary committees on health and public service reform at Malawi’s National Assembly and the Governments of Malawi and Niger have drawn on the research findings.
- Gerhard Anders (principal investigator)
- Giorgio Blundo (EHESS, IRD) (co-investigator)
- Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (EHESS, LASDEL) (co-investigator)
Project research reports:
Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Mahman Tahirou Ali Bako and Abdoutan Harouna. The importance of practical norms in government health and education services in Niger. (2018). (Word document)