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Steven Sampson

Steven Sampson

Professor emeritus

Steven Sampson

The most successful ngo in the world: transparency international and the rise of ‘anticorruptionism’


  • Steven Sampson

Summary, in English

Presented at conference on NGO studies and anthropology, panel on elite NGOs and NGO elites. Abstract. The anticorruption NGO Transparency International was founded in 1993 by a former World Bank official and his network of ex-diplomats, lawyers, development consultants and businessmen. With headquarters in Berlin and affiliate organizations in 90 countries, it is truly one of the most successful NGOs in history, achieving a tremendous impact in a relatively short period. TI is received at the World Bank, at Davos, and at every major anticorruption or business ethics forum. Most of the affiliates are headed and run by a professional staff with a local board resembling those of the main organization. TI does not demonstrate or mobilize mass or grass roots activities, and their strategy of work is called ‘coalition building’. How did TI get so influential so fast? Did they just catch a wave of anticorruption sentiment ‘out there’. How do elites mobilize in a grass-roots fashion? And how do we integrate the elite origin and character of organizations such as Transparency International into the general study of NGOs, civil society and non-state actors?


  • Social Anthropology

Publishing year






Document type

Conference - other


  • Social Anthropology


  • social anthropology
  • NGOs
  • civil society
  • transnational activist movements
  • corruption
  • anticorruption
  • Transparency International
  • elites
  • global elites
  • anticorruptionism

Conference name

Anthropology and the Future of NGOs

Conference date