Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

International Journal of Public Administration

For a Special Issue on

Promises and Pitfalls of Digital Technologies in the Fight against Corruption

Abstract deadline
30 November 2024

Manuscript deadline
30 June 2025

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Tobias Polzer, WU Vienna, Austria
[email protected]

Kristina S. Weißmüller, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[email protected]

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Promises and Pitfalls of Digital Technologies in the Fight against Corruption

Administrative corruption is a pressing but still unresolved issue in public administration worldwide, causing severe societal harm. Defined as the “abuse of public office for private gain” (Meyer-Sahling, Mikkelsen, and Schuster 2018, 277), corruption subverts the integrity of public institutions, undermines societal trust, and renders public organizations ineffective (Bellé and Cantarelli 2017; Weißmüller and Zuber 2023). Its socially undesirable and clandestine nature makes corruption notoriously difficult to research and contain. Corruption-related costs in public procurement in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) are estimated to amount to €30 billion between 2016 and 2021 (European Parliament, 2023). Moreover, various studies suggest that about 10-25% of the value of public contracts is likely to be lost due to corruption (UNODC, 2013), eroding governance capacity and the principles of democracy (Liu et al., 2022).

As a consequence, the development and design of effective anti-corruption strategies is of paramount importance and it is, therefore, one of the top priorities of EU legislation (European Commission 2022). Public organizations and policy makers urgently seek ways to use innovative technologies to better assess and prevent corruption. Following profound societal and technical change, digital-era governance is the dominant paradigm of public administration in the twenty-first century (Margetts and Dunleavy 2013), and its fundamental digital transformation of public administration affords new opportunities for the fight against corruption.

The relationships between digital transformation and corruption are intricate. This special issue focuses on the promises and pitfalls of digital technologies to prevent, address and reduce corruption in the public sector. The special issue aims to assess how recent technological advancements and disruptive technologies associated with public sector digitalization – such as artificial intelligence (AI) – can elevate the fight against corruption. In this context, it also seeks to highlight the wider (and potentially negative) implications of these technologies, such as shifting the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate practices (Siraz, Claes, de Castro, and Vaara 2023), blurring accountability in citizen-state interaction, increasing cybercrime threats, and introducing new technology-related biases, e.g. the amplification and reinforcement of discrimination, stereotypes, and existing power structures.

For example, the use of AI technology has great potential to improve the efficiency of public administration and civil services provision. AI may accelerate anti-corruption through bottom-up agency and collective action (Köbis et al. 2022), but the use of AI posits issues, e.g., in the form of citizen discrimination, a lack of accountability (Busuioc 2021; van der Voort et al. 2019), and ways of deflecting blame (Maasland & Weißmüller 2022). Conversely, digital technology may also amplify stakeholders’ and NGOs’ voice regarding integrity violations through the affordance of social media platforms (Cordery et al. 2023).

Recent corruption research shows significant advancements in global anti-corruption initiatives and policy formulation. Scholars note, however, that more nuanced and critical perspectives and rigorous theory-based research are needed to advance the anti-corruption discourse (Breit, Lennerfors, and Olaison 2015; Weißmüller and Zuber 2023), particularly in the digital governance age. Addressing this shortcoming, we encourage research to cover some of the following specific themes and topics:

Design and use of technology:

  • What are the promises and pitfalls of using technological solutions (such as AI, blockchain, dataspaces, open government data, auditing software) in fighting corruption?
  • How can technology bridge integrity and compliance-based approaches to anti-corruption in practice?
  • How do digital technologies affect corruption and anti-corruption in business of government (e.g., in procurement processes, or the operation of public-private partnerships)?
  • How do digital technologies relate to anti-corruption policy implementation, effective anti-corruption strategies in public management theory and practice, e.g., the design of whistleblowing platforms?
  • To what extent do technology-based training programs against corruption stand the test of evaluation?
  • What are dark sides of technology use: e.g., accountability gaps by use of AI; use of social media for legitimization strategies of white-collar crime?

Stakeholders and civil society:

  • What new forms of anti-corruption activism by non-profit organizations and citizens on social media in corruption cases arise due to technology?
  • What is the role of cross-sectoral technology partnerships in the fight against corruption?
  • What are the relationships between corruption, digital transformation, and the sustainable development goals?
  • What new forms of citizen audits of government performance become possible with the help of digital technologies?

Context and systems:

  • What can we learn from comparative research on the boundary conditions for implementation of technological solutions, e.g., in emerging economies?
  • What are the changed structures and processes within public sector organizations as a consequence of technological solutions?
  • What are challenges in building core competences and organizational capacities for implementing innovative technological solutions in the fight against corruption?
  • What new forms of corruption are brought about by technological developments?
  • To what extent do corruption and anti-corruption facilitate or hinder digital transformation of the public sector?

This is not an exhaustive list. The special issue seeks papers that examine some of the above issues from an empirical evidence-based perspective. Further topics, if aligned with the aims of this special issue will be considered.

Manuscripts must have a clear conceptual and theoretical foundation and meet appropriate methodological standards. Submissions should make strong theoretical contributions (such as developing a theoretical framework) and sound empirical analysis (such as quantitative analysis or comparative case study analysis).

We especially welcome contributions by scholars from regions typically underrepresented in public administration research and contributions investigating non-WEIRD or hard-to-study samples, regions, and contexts. Research drawing on multiple disciplinary perspectives is welcome.

Submission Instructions

Proposals should be submitted to the guest editors directly via email at [email protected] and [email protected] by November 30, 2024, with email subject title, “IJPA special issue: Digital Technologies in the Fight against Corruption”. The submitted proposals should be no more than 500 words (excluding references).

The guest editors will inform authors about the decisions on proposals by January 31, 2025. All proposals will be reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • The relevance of the paper to (some of) the major themes above
  • The research question(s) and the theoretical/conceptual foundations for the research, including the soundness of the brief description of methods and data
  • The results to be reported
  • The significance of the research for theory and practice

Please note that acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee final publication. All manuscripts will be subject to peer-review by relevant subject-matter experts. Because IJPA is a global journal, authors are encouraged to engage with the prior academic scholarship on fundamental public administration issues and questions, and contribute to knowledge from a comparative perspective.


  • November 30, 2024 – Proposals due
  • January 31, 2025 – Decision on proposals
  • June 30, 2025 – Full paper submission

The guest editors welcome enquiries in advance of submission and declarations of interest.

Full Papers must follow the IJPA editorial guidelines. Please see the journal website.

Instructions for Authors