This module is a resource for lecturers   




This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.

The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities, after which group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to create the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it will be more challenging and the lecturer may need to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions and for providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussions in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting closest to them. Given the time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback during each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups have the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer can facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues may vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the Key issues section of the Module.

It is recommended that lecturers begin building a conducive and friendly environment at the start of class and before conducting the very first exercise. This can be done by breaking the ice in a supportive way, by respectfully examining students' starting orientations to corruption, and by demonstrating genuine interest in their perspectives. Once students come to see the lecturer as respectful, genuinely interested in their orientation to the material, and consistent in policing any snide or unsupportive comments by class members, that safe space will enable effective learning and development.


Exercise 1: Ice breaker

Side note: By breaking the ice in a supportive way in the very first exercise, the lecturer can begin building a conducive, sympathetic environment at the start of class. This includes respectfully examining students' existing orientations to corruption, and by demonstrating a genuine interest in their views. Once students come to see that the lecturer is respectful, genuinely interested in their viewpoints, and consistent in policing any snide or unsupportive comments by class members, the establishment of a safe environment will be well on its way.   

Exercise 1 could include working in small groups, and having the students define the term "public sector corruption" and provide stories of public sector corruption that they have heard or experienced. Ask students to express their views about which spheres of the public sector they feel are corrupt in their country and why. Ask representatives from each group to present the group's views to the larger class, and facilitate a discussion around their feedback. In case the topic is too sensitive in the particular circumstances and students may not feel comfortable to talk openly about it, the lecturer may consider using online tools such as to get the students' responses anonymoysly and discuss them with the class.


Exercise 2: Case studies

Divide the students into groups of five or six and ask each group to discuss one or more of the following case studies. To guide their discussion, ask the students to identify what appears to be a legal or ethical violation and to suggest its role in the kind of corruption reflected in the case study. Each group should nominate a spokesperson to report on the observations of the group to the larger class. The lecturer can then facilitate further discussion by comparing group observations on the same case study, or ask groups to compare different case studies.

Case study 1: Hiring friends and family

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Service in country A appointed a former colleague as Chief Finance Officer (CFO). The CEO made the appointment with no references, no statement aligning the candidate with the selection criteria, no interview notes and no comparative report. The CEO and CFO went on to cross-hire their relatives (including spouses and children), former business associates and friends to fill a variety of positions in the National Health Service, often to the exclusion of better qualified candidates. Given the small size of country A, these appointments were highly visible. The pair also manipulated procurement processes to benefit their families and associates.

Case study 2: Buying office chairs

A procurement division in a government department put out the supply of office chairs to tender. The award criteria were the price and the delivery time. The price was weighted as 80 per cent (i.e. 80 points for the lowest price). With respect to the non-price-related criteria, a bidder offering a delivery time between six and five months would get five points; between five and four months, ten points; between four and three months; 15 points; and less than three months, 20 points. For a delivery time of more than six months, no points would be awarded. Two companies submitted bids and their prices were almost the same. One company offered a delivery time of 4.5 months (by checking the appropriate box in the tender documents), while the second bidder deliberately did not offer any delivery time. A corrupt government official, in return for receiving a bribe, checked the box "less than three months" in the second bid after the bid had been submitted. This was the decisive factor in winning the tender and for the contract award. The office chairs were, in fact, delivered eight months after contract conclusion.

Case study 3: Electricity connection

The officials in a State-run electricity company in a developing country were supposed to approve and install new electricity connections. It was discovered that in several towns, when members of the public requested a connection, particular officials informed them that for a large unofficial payment, the officials could connect them to another person's meter so that they would never receive an electricity bill. Members of the public who refused this offer would have to wait several months for the legal connection. Those who accepted the offer and could make the payment would be connected immediately and enjoy "free" electricity.


Exercise 3: Understanding procurement corruption

Show the seven-minute video Corruption risks in public procurement and facilitate a discussion around the importance of corruption-free public procurement. Ask students to consider the public procurement system in their own country and what changes are required to improve it.


Exercise 4: Cultural issues in public sector corruption - gifts and conflicts of interest

The aim of this exercise is to encourage students to think about the difficult issues raised by practices that may be culturally acceptable in one context but not in another. The examples below focus on the cultural practice of gift-giving, which in some societies could be at odds with the legal anti-corruption framework. Ask students to consider whether these scenarios should be regarded as cases of corruption (some societies would stress that such practices have nothing to do with corruption) and how to tackle the challenge of cultures approaching gift-giving differently:

  • A company in the United States maintains a resort and invites high-ranking judges, politicians and business people to spend time and mingle together, free of charge.
  • A city official in New Zealand who is responsible for approving construction permits is taken to a lavish lunch by a property developer, and then to a football match where he sits in a corporate box.
  • In rural Mexico, corrupt government officials share some of their illegally accumulated wealth with the local community by financing events with free food and alcohol.
  • A government minister for public works in Queensland, Australia, accepts heavily discounted shares in a mining company, which is planning investments in a new mine and accompanying infrastructure.

These scenarios were taken from a Washington Post article by Mark Berman and Jerry Markon, titled "Why Justice Scalia was staying for free at a Texas resort" (2016), and from an academic article by Adam Graycar and David Jancsics, titled "Gift Giving and Corruption" (International Journal of Public Administration, vol. 40, issue 12, pp. 1013-1023 (2017)).  

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