U4 Innovation Lab for Anti-Corruption in Development
The U4 Innovation Lab will test recommendations, ideas, methodologies, hypotheses and assumptions relevant for anti-corruption, derived from research and practical experiences. Together with U4 partners, we plan to take on the challenge of testing these aspects of anti-corruption policies to generate knowledge that can accelerate the development of effective measures. Another benefit is that the results can help limit the risks of large-scale interventions.
Background to the U4 Innovation Lab
Growing dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of anti-corruption approaches motivated the creation of the U4 Innovation Lab. Practitioners and researchers are pointing out major evidence gaps, and the problem of a limited understanding of what is successful in anti-corruption reforms.
As a result, there is increased questioning of the assumptions behind existing anti-corruption initiatives and not least, how they relate to the systems that maintain corruption in specific contexts. The changing and complex character of corruption across contexts is highlighted in recent research as a fundamental weakness in approaches to address corruption. The interaction between countries, both developed and developing, is particularly vulnerable to corruption. Furthermore, existing anti-corruption knowledge is not fully accepted across the aid sector, preventing necessary improvements.
The U4 Innovation Lab
Until now, U4 recommendations have been based on analyses of existing and original research, and on insights derived from practice under very specific circumstances. Their eventual effectiveness across contexts have not been tested and is not adequately documented. The Innovation Lab will conduct systematic action research to enable accelerated evidence-based policy development.
The Innovation Lab will conduct systematic action research to enable evidence based policy development
The ultimate purpose of the U4 Innovation Lab is to contribute to fulfilling the U4 mission by helping to develop innovative approaches and conduct research that can contribute to prevent the harmful impact of corruption on sustainable development. The U4 Innovation Lab will test recommendations, ideas, methodologies, hypotheses and assumptions relevant for anti-corruption, derived from research and practical experiences. Possible methodologies include action research, innovative pilots, and formative research.
These test projects can be short-term or stretch over a period of several years, depending on the type of activity or test object/prototype involved. The common denominator for all innovation lab projects is to embrace the risk of testing the new, with a view to generate knowledge that can limit the risks of larger scale interventions, while achieving greater impact.
Structuring the Lab
The lab work will revolve around specific pilot projects that we will identify in close consultation with U4 partners in the U4 Partner Forum. Based on experiences and research from actors specialising in innovation, U4 proposes a simple framework to encourage more precision in different stages of the innovation process. (See Figure 1)
The Innovation Lab aims to provide recommendations for partner agencies and also offer valuable suggestions for future research. It will make a direct contribution to the evolving body of evidence on what kinds of anticorruption intervention works, why, and under which conditions. We envisage that the outputs will contribute to greater value for money from anti-corruption interventions that follow the lab’s recommendations. The best outcome for the Innovation Lab would be a rethink of whole systems relevant for reducing harmful corruption within sustainable development.
For more information
Fredrik Eriksson U4 Senior Advisor
Sara Ögmundsdóttir U4 Finance and Operations Manager
The U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at CMI works to identify and communicate informed approaches to partners for reducing the harmful impact of corruption on sustainable and inclusive development. Sign up for our newsletter.