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KickBack - The Global Anticorruption Podcast
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KickBack - The Global Anticorruption Podcast

Author: KickBack

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This podcast series features in-depth interviews with a wide range of corruption experts, on questions such as:
What have we learned from 20+ years of (anti)corruption research?
Why and how does power corrupt?
Which theories help to make sense of corruption?
What can we do to manage corruption?
How to recovery stolen assets?
102 Episodes
In episode 102 Robert Barrington (Centre for the Study of Corruption), Guy Beringer KC (Hon) (Chair of the Taskforce on Business Ethics and the Legal Profession), Liz Dávid-Barrett (Centre for the Study of Corruption) and Tena Prelec (University of Rijeka) discuss the topic of so-called 'professional enablers'. Distinguishing between legal and illegal functions, the group discuss the types of activities related to corruption that the term might (and might not) encompass. They provide plenty of case examples from around the globe involving different types of professionals, such as accountants, consultants and lawyers. There is then a particular focus on the legal profession and the pathways available for raising professional standards. This includes a discussion some of the legal ethics issues raised by this topic.
Leading academics from the Centre for the Study of Corruption sit down to discuss what we learnt from Episode 100. The anniversary episode featured insights on the state of anti-corruption practice from some of the leading global thinkers in the field. Here, Robert Barrington, Liz Dávid-Barrett, Dan Hough and Sam Power debate some of the key questions raised, including: To what extent we should be optimistic about the future for anti-corruption work? What is the proper place for corruption theory in understanding key developments in the field? And what are the roles that different groups of actors can play in the next phase of anti-corruption initiatives?
For this special anniversary episode, Kickback invited leading thinkers from around the globe to comment on the state of practice in the corruption field. We asked each individual to respond to one of two questions: a) ​'what is one thing about corruption that you've changed your thinking on in the past 10 years?' b) 'what is the most significant development - positive or negative - in relation to corruption and corruption studies over the past thirty years?' We got some fascinating responses. Take the time to listen to them all in or jump to an individual's comments from the links below. Here are our esteemed contributors: Michael Johnston (2.34) - Leena Koni Hoffmann (7.52) - Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (10.24) - Paul Heywood (12.51) - Florencia Guerzovich (15.40) - Joseph Pozsgai-Alvarez (18.16) - Jorge Alatorre (21.36) - Delia Ferreira Rubio (23.33) - Matthew Stephenson (26.55) - Susan Rose-Ackerman (29.43) - John Githongo (32.15) - Jon Quah (33.34) - Laode Muhammad Syarif (36.12) - To see categories of past episodes, go to our playlists page -
Huma Yusuf speaks to Tom Shipley about the links between business integrity and environmental, social and governance (ESG). Huma is Director of Business Integrity at British International Investment, an impact investor, and a key public commentator on climate change in Pakistan. In this podcast, Huma describes how anti-corruption and business integrity fit into the global business agenda on ESG, breaking down some of the key concepts and debates in this area. She also talks about working with businesses in emerging markets on these topics and some of the key challenges that arise. Links to reports cited in the podcast are here: Transparency International (2022) "Investing with integrity", World Economic Forum (2022) "Investing in integrity in an increasingly complex world: the role of anti-corruption amid the ESG revolution",
This is the second episode of the 'Introduction to' series in which experts provide an overview of some of the key issues in the corruption field. In this episode Liz Dávid-Barrett, Dan Hough and Sam Power (all Centre for the Study of Corruption) discuss the leading theories for corruption analysis, including rational choice, collective action and social norms approaches. This is a valuable overview for researchers new to these topics. Further links to Kickback episodes with some of the leading theorists referenced are provided below. Susan Rose-Ackerman on the principal-agent theory of corruption, Bo Rothstein on corruption as a collective action problem: Diana Chigas and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church on social norms: And for the first 'introduction to' episode on corruption measurement, see:
Michela Wrong, journalist and author of It's Our Turn to Eat, speaks to Dr. Sam Power, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the Centre for the Study of Corruption. Named as the top book on corruption by The Guardian in 2023, It's Our Turn to Eat tells the story of John Githongo, the Kenyan activist and whistleblower interviewed in Episode 96. Michela talks to Sam about the issues raised in the book as well as her other writing including Do Not Disturb, her latest book on the abuse of power by the Kagame regime in Rwanda.
The Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner and activist, John Githongo, speaks to Liz Dávid-Barrett (Centre for the Study of Corruption). The episode covers key moments in John's career including his involvement in the formation of Transparency International and time spent as Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics in the Kenyan government in the early 2000s. John and Liz further discuss what lessons can be taken from Kenya's fight against corruption and the particularly the role of anti-corruption institutions.
Dr. Magnus Öhman, senior political finance adviser at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, speaks to the Kickback team. Magnus discusses the challenges of corruption and political trust against the wider global context of increased democratic backsliding. There is specific focus on approaches to tackling the problem of illicit finance in politics, including the potential of artificial intelligence for improving transparency.
Grant Walton, Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy (Australian National University, speaks to Dan Hough about his research on corruption in Papua New Guinea (PNG). A key focus for Grant has been to explore what people understand by corruption in PNG and how this compares to Western understandings of the term. The disconnection between the two has implications for how we approach messaging on countering corruption which risks being ineffective or even backfiring if it does not account for local understandings. Grant also outlines the formal state anti-corruption institutions in place in PNG, leading to discussion on the appropriate roles for external actors in supporting these institutions. Publications mentioned by Grant in the podcast can be found on his research profile, here:
Professor Dan Hough (University of Sussex), Professor Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett (University of Sussex/ International Anti-Corruption Academy) and Dr. Roxana Bratu (King's College London) provide an introduction to corruption measurement debates. They explore questions like: How has measurement of corruption changed over the three decades? What are the best tools currently available for measuring corruption? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these tools? What are 'proxy indicators' for measuring corruption? What do users actually want from corruption measurement tools?
Andrew Wedeman, Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University, speaks to Professor Dan Hough about the politics of anti-corruption campaigns in China. Andrew analyses the anti-corruption campaign instigated by President Xi Jinping and also puts this into historical perspective. Andrew and Dan discuss the effects this campaign has had on Chinese society at all levels and whether there really is any evidence of progress in controlling corruption in the country. Andrew additionally talks about some of the challenges in researching these issues and where research on this topic could go next in China.
Cheri-Leigh Erasmus, Global Director of Learning at the Accountability Lab, speaks to Dan Hough, Professor of Politics at the Centre for the Study of Corruption. She describes Accountability Lab's distinctive approach to building integrity in the civil service with examples from across the globe. She shares some lessons from this work and offers plenty of ideas for how to engage new audiences in anti-corruption work. You can see more on the work of Accountability Lab here,
Claudia Baez Camargo, Head of Public Governance at the Basel Institute, talks to Liz Dávid-Barrett about her work on applying social norms theory to analysing corruption issues. The episode takes in examples of applied research in East Africa and Ukraine, while Claudia's thinking on corruption is also influenced by her upbringing in Mexico. Claudia describes some successes in altering social norms around corruption in health settings but equally some of the challenges in sustaining these initiatives. In addition, Claudia talks about her work analysing informal networks of corrupt actors as well as how we might use insights from behavioural science to improve anti-corruption interventions.
This episode features Cecilia Müller Torbrand, CEO of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN). She speaks to Liz Dávid-Barrett about the work of MACN, a network of shipping businesses which has been making some real headway in reducing corruption risks in this sector. The MACN story offers lots of valuable lessons for researchers and practitioners. Cecilia talks about how MACN has succeeded in framing its messaging around trade and commerce to engage government and the private sector in anti-corruption work. She also describes the incredible data MACN has compiled on corruption incidents and risks in the sector, which it uses to push for change. Detailed examples from Argentina and Nigeria show how the model works in practice and provide evidenced examples of change.
Luís de Sousa, deputy director and research fellow at ICS-ULisboa, speaks to Robert Barrington, professor of anti-corruption practice at the Centre for the Study of Corruption, on a range of topics. Luís is well-known for his research on anti-corruption agencies and in the episode he discusses country cases and conditions for success. This is also the first Kickback episode to discuss Portugal in depth. Lessons from Portugal on the politicization of anti-corruption measures, the role of external actors in reform, and the importance of local government will be of real interest to researchers and practitioners working in comparable contexts.
In this episode recorded on the margins of the International Anti-Corruption Conference, Paul Massaro, senior policy advisor for the U.S. Helsinki Commission, speaks to Liz Dávid-Barrett. Paul discusses the drivers behind the Enablers Act and the role of the US in countering kleptocracy. The conversation also covers the effectiveness of international sanctions on corruption and the importance of counter-kleptocracy work to ending the war in Ukraine.
Kicking off 2023 we were delighted to have Dame Margaret Hodge join us to talk about integrity issues in the UK. She speaks to Dr. Sam Power, Senior Lecturer at the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption, to talk about her fascinating route into politics and how this naturally led her to focus on integrity. The episode covers corruption issues in the UK including the UK's role in wider international patterns of corruption. Margaret and Sam discuss some practical responses to these issues which will be of real interest to reformers in the UK and other countries facing similar challenges.
This episode from the margins of the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Washington DC features Shannon Green, Executive Director of USAID's Anti-Corruption Task Force. Shannon talks to Liz Dávid-Barrett about the agency's new anti-corruption strategy. They also focus on the challenge of fighting kleptocracies and USAID's new dekleptification guide. Here are links to the resources discussed USAID anti-corruption strategy: USAID dekleptification guide:
We are delighted to announce that the Centre for the Study of Corruption (CSC) at the University of Sussex is the new home of Kickback. The centre will be hosting the podcast over the next three years. We look forward to continuing the great work of the original Kickback team and welcoming an interesting range of guests from across the anti-corruption community. Robert Barrington talks more about the handover in a blog for the CSC (link below). In this episode, Matthew Stephenson talks to Liz Dávid-Barrett about what we have learnt from Kickback so far. He also offers his thoughts on the major themes and challenges the anti-corruption field should be tackling. These include 'the political economy of anti-corruption reform' as well as the proper place for theory in anti-corruption work. We additionally take this opportunity to ask Matthew about his latest research. He talks about a recent paper on the US experience of anti-corruption which provides some evidence to support an incremental theory of anti-corruption reform in contrast to 'big bang' explanations. There will be new episodes coming from the CSC in the new year so stay posted! Blog on the handover from Robert Barrington - Here are links to papers discussed by Matthew - Taming systemic corruption: The American experience and its implications for contemporary debates - - co-authored with Mariano-Florentino Cuèllar Corruption as a self-reinforcing trap -
Ahead of the Qatar World Cup, we welcome Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes Football Club and a former Senior Global Advocacy Manager at Transparency International. She speaks to Dan Hough, self-professed football obsessive and Professor of Politics at Sussex University. Maggie takes us through her journey from anti-corruption campaigning to football management. She and Dan discuss the ethical problems affecting football, including the FIFA scandal, and how these issues exacerbate inequity between the men's and women's games. Maggie offers an alternative vision for ethical club management which we can all buy into.
Comments (2)

mohsen fakhary

I think episode 0 is deleted or somehow have a problem. I cannot download it or listen to it while I downloaded episodes 1 and 2 successfully. BTW thank you for good content you provided!

Jul 10th

Tris Hicks

The common way to standardise is incidents per thousand which ‘disadvantages states like Wyoming over California’. Apparently. Otherwise an interesting topic with some insight into the complexity of measuring Criminal Justice

Feb 1st
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