Alan Doig, Professor at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, contributes the following guest post:
Resources for anticorruption are scare; how should they be spent? In particular, how should the international community (national aid agencies, international institutions, and private donors and foundations) allocate resources for education and training programs for anticorruption professionals?
Although “education” and “training” are often lumped together as one category, in fact they are quite different. Education is about the acquisition of knowledge, with the accompanying change in awareness and understanding, through the provision and assimilation of information. Training involves the acquisition of the applied knowledge and technical skills required to improve individual and organizational performance in the workplace, invariably in relation to specific roles or functions. In terms of impact, education would look for longer-term benefits and impact while training can be judged more immediately by what the person does once trained.
The question of how to spend the even more limited funds that are not tied to the big spenders (the multilateral and bilateral donors) brings this issue into sharp focus, and raises the question of whether too much too much is allocated to postgraduate anticorruption education, at the expense of practical anticorruption training.
In terms of the current demands of the wider anticorruption agenda, education is a luxury item in a world of limited resources. Not only does education require a significant infrastructure (as any university knows) but the effect may not be realized for many years; in any case any impact is mediated through the subsequent career choices of the students. And if we’re talking not about mass education (say, at the primary or secondary school level), but rather about (elite) professional education, with one or two students from any one country or organization participating, then education is unlikely to achieve significant dividends (and may achieve none, if the students opt for other careers or are not appointed to positions where they have specific anticorruption roles and responsibilities). Education is also resource-intensive and, as professions such as accountancy, medicine, and law recognize, must be followed by an extensive period of practitioner training to realize the benefits. Moreover, unless there is professional oversight of both education and training, there is also no certainty that the knowledge imparted has practitioner and policy relevance. Open application processes, as with all universities, also produce a huge mix in terms of age, backgrounds, previous experience, and current employment. Consequently the impact is not only dissipated but, given the conceptual and academic approaches that many of these programs take, most of the programs’ graduates know a lot more about the “why” of corruption than the much more relevant “how” of anticorruption.
Training, on the other hand, has more immediate impact, providing knowledge transfer and commonality and uniformity of approaches (exemplified by initiatives like the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Africa Anti-Corruption Centre in Botswana, a regional training initiative for anticorruption agencies). Training programs also allow for targeting specific skills (as with the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) training programs in Southeast Asia and elsewhere) or specific agencies or institutions (such as Integrity Action’s work on its fix-rate approach to provide civil society groups with a working tool to hold street officials to account, or INTOSAI‘s work on drafting and disseminating global audit standards) or specific inter-agency initiatives (as the UNODC tried to do with AsiaJust in Southeast Asia in bringing prosecutors and judges together to support inter-jurisdictional relations). While much is lost through either the wrong training (or, particularly, the wrong trainers), training develops capacity and puts operational tools in the hands of current practitioners.
This dichotomy between training and education–and the unfortunate shift in emphasis from the former to the latter–is exemplified by the funding and focus of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA). The IACA has been part-funded by a substantial grant from the Siemens Integrity Initiative (the global $100 million fund that Siemens agreed to establish to settle the various charges brought against it for its egregious worldwide bribery schemes). The founding group who set up the IACA were clear about its role as a training institution – specifically a trainer of practitioners whose enhanced knowledge and expertise would have a trickle-down effect back home. The Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, highlighted the proposed practical benefits of the Academy, particularly the training of experts working in anticorruption agencies and financial intelligence units. INTERPOL Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble added that the Academy was intended to “play a central role in enabling police and prosecutors worldwide to investigate and prosecute corruption.” This original vision has been lost as the founding group fell out or fell away, leaving some Austrian public servants to reconfigure the IACA as an educational, rather than a training, institution. Apart from a handful of short training courses and a popular summer school, the biggest current activity of the Academy is a Master’s Degree (MA) in Anti-Corruption Studies – supported with Siemens’ and Austrian taxpayers’ money. Now Siemens has given the Academy an even larger chunk of money for a professorship on “Collective Action,” compliance and private sector anticorruption, academic and other staff, and another MA program concentrating on those topics.
Some might welcome this development. A few months ago, Professor Andrew Spalding, who teaches at the IACA’s MA program, wrote a blog post in which he reported the responses he got when he asked his students in that program what they would do if they had $10 million to spend on anticorruption activities in their home countries. He reports that “the most common idea” was “the need to educate”:
Change public opinion, generate public will. Create a critical mass of citizens who more consciously recognize their right to a government free of systemic corruption.
Create “mini-IACAs” around the world that provided advanced training and certification in the causes and effects of corruption and the best solutions. Go to the business and law schools and provide a solid foundation in the importance of effective compliance and prosecution. Create training centers for working professionals in the private and public sectors. Go into the elementary schools and teach kids about the virtues of honesty and accountability, in government and in life. Provide seed money to startup companies that could build social media platforms to enable communication among citizens.
Some of these ideas—those focusing on skills training, media, and perhaps mass education at the elementary level—might be valuable. But I cannot see the added-value to the wider anticorruption agenda of more mini-IACAs or, frankly, the focus of the current one if its primary raison d’etre continues to be postgraduate education.
Now, postgraduate education does have a place as an anticorruption tool, particularly in shaping and focusing the leadership and management skills of senior practitioners. The optimal amount of resourced devoted to postgraduate anticorruption education is not zero. But there are already a number of public policy masters programs around the world that fulfill that function, What we need–and where an institution like the IACA could have made a bigger impact– is a global hub for practitioner investigative, investigation management, and prosecutorial training (which would also serve as a center of networking, knowledge transfer, best practice and training of practitioners with a common purpose and common interest in professionalizing what they do and how they do it).
An MA does not stop corruption; professional capacity does. Maybe it’s time to rethink the role and purpose not only of specific institutions like the IACA, but more broadly about the uses to which scarce resources should be put to the wider benefit of the anticorruption agenda.
[Full disclosure: I was appointed MA Coordinator at the IACA in January 2014; I resigned in October 2014.]