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Conceptualizing corruption prevention: a systematic literature review

Nicholas Bautista-Beauchesne (École nationale d’administration publique, Montréal, Canada)
César Garzon (École nationale d’administration publique, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 2 July 2019




Existing reviews about corruption and anti-corruption have yet to treat the subject of prevention as the main focus of inquiry. The purpose of this paper is to address this need by analyzing definitions, theoretical underpinnings, methods and sectors of interest within published academic articles. By doing so, the main objective is to clarify the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the prevention of corruption.


The research design consists of a systematic literature review, which uses a keyword-string search method across relevant databases. A qualitative and quantitative coding scheme was implemented to provide descriptive statistics.


Results show a need for methodological diversity, theoretical debate and a clarification of the definitional foundations of corruption prevention. Specifically, the results underline a need for more interdisciplinary collaboration between the various fields that study the issue. To this end, a conceptualization of corruption prevention is proposed, built around a two by two matrix, to synthesize existing definitions and spark scholarly debate.

Practical implications

This paper contributes to the field of anti-corruption on a theoretical level by highlighting the current strengths and weaknesses of the inroads made by the existing literature. Moreover, on a practical research level, this paper suggests fruitful lines of inquiry to channel a rapidly expanding field of study.

Social implications

This paper underlines the need for corruption prevention policymaking to take note of the broad literature emanating from multiple social science disciplines. This paper also underlines the need for policy implementation to consider the socio-historical context and definitional idiosyncrasies of corruption for policy effectiveness.


A core original contribution of this paper is to advance a definition and conceptualization of corruption prevention. Using two conceptual axes – focus and scope – prevention tools are categorized and analyzed to spark further scholarly debate.



The authors would like to thank Dr Étienne Charbonneau for helpful comments on previous versions, as well as the École Nationale d’Administration Publique for financial support. All shortcomings belong to the authors.


Bautista-Beauchesne, N. and Garzon, C. (2019), "Conceptualizing corruption prevention: a systematic literature review", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 719-745.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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