To better understand how developmental progress occurs, international development scholars and policy makers reach for impressive examples of positive change. These cases have been referred to as not only “positive outliers” but also “positive deviants” and “pockets of effectiveness.” Academic studies of these cases identify and examine positive developmental change occurring in otherwise challenging governance environments. However, research in this literature largely relies on the reputations of cases to identify success stories, and by doing so, cases that do not have a known reputation for their developmental progress have been overlooked. This case study summarizes a novel three-stage methodology for identifying and examining positive outlier cases that does not rely solely on reputations. The methodology promises to not be blind to the identification of “hidden” cases of developmental progress. The utility of the methodology is demonstrated through its use in uncovering two country case studies in which surprising rates of bribery reduction occurred, although the methodology has broader applicability. The advantage of the methodology is validated in the fact that in both cases identified, the reductions in bribery that occurred were largely previously unrecognized.
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