Yanik Harnois, Stéphane Gagnon, (2022), “Corruption and international development: A review of project management challenges”, Journal of Financial Crime, 29(3), 864–877. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFC-06-2021-0128



The outcomes and quality of international development projects (IDPs) remain highly controversial, especially with perception of corruption by various stakeholders. This study aims to integrate findings from both social and administrative sciences to focus attention on the governance challenges involved in both business and public administration of such projects. It also asks to what extent Project Management (PM) methods can effectively be harmonized with broader anti-corruption initiative in both donor and receiving countries.


Taking a transdisciplinary viewpoint, this study proposes a review and synthesis of the literature on the theoretical, methodological, and epistemological issues in researching corruption as a construct in PM as applied to IDPs.


Some experts recognize the inefficacy of applying classical PM tools and processes. By contrasting the literature, this study concludes that an alternative approach to overcome the taboos and prejudice in studying corruption is to ask a different research question. As opposed to studying “who and why” about corruption occurrences (ex-post), given the challenge of unveiling its practices and motivations, PM researchers can to ask instead “where and how” it occurs and help understand methods to mitigate its effects on projects (ex-ante).


A research agenda is proposed for the several disciplines and fields concerned with solving this phenomenon. To guide PM research on development projects, focusing on the “where and how” of corruption requires addressing how actors build their knowledge management capabilities and address the social and cultural challenges inherent to IDPs.