Designing effective anti-corruption communication campaigns is essential to earn and maintain popular support for government integrity reforms. Communicating progress and achievements can help bolster the legitimacy of the government, mobilize the public behind reform measures and generate support for enforcement efforts against politicians or other entrenched elites who might otherwise seek to undermine anti-corruption initiatives. This is particularly important for anti-corruption reformers in “window of opportunity” contexts in order to create the conditions that make systemic change possible - and durable.
Yet, existing research shows that anti-corruption campaigns can actually backfire by triggering anti-corruption fatigue or apathy, reinforcing the perception that corruption is pervasive and therefore too difficult to challenge. While public support for anti-corruption reforms and trust-building are key ingredients in political transition contexts, research into what works and what can be quickly deployed to assist reformers is limited.
To understand the scope of existing research and the lessons that can be learned in designing effective anti-corruption communication campaigns, NDI has conducted a review of available literature. Despite the limited evidence, studies on anti-corruption communication strategies do highlight some emerging lessons and potential avenues for future research and experimentation. These lessons can help guide reformers during transition moments in constructing and tailoring their messaging or, at a minimum, in avoiding the pitfalls of anti-corruption campaigns.