Planning Corruption or Corrupting Planning?

A Sub-Saharan Africa Perspective

Journal of the American Planning Association cover.

Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, and Wes Grooms, planning theorist, urban political economist and a visiting assistant professor of urban and regional planning, join forces with renowned authors  to better understand corruption and how it complicates planning. 

Here we illuminate the often overlooked, yet pernicious impacts of corruption in planning. We used a sequential mixed-methods approach, inclusive of a survey of 82 planning practitioners in Ghana and semistructured interviews with 17 of these survey respondents, to investigate planners’ experiences of corruption. We found that incentives for corrupt behaviors, structured by the particularities of planning culture, are necessary but insufficient to unpack corruption in planning, both in and outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Personal values and coercion also play roles in incentivizing corruption. We also learned that practitioners rely on social coping mechanisms to resist corruption, which speaks broadly to practitioners monitoring themselves when institutional corruption controls seem weak or nonexistent within a planning culture. Further research across planning cultures is called for to develop planning curricula and practices that can help students and professional planners understand and resolve corruption and other moral dilemmas specific to their planning contexts.


Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, Assistant Professor
University at Buffalo

Vanessa Watson, Founder and Executive Member
African Center for Cities at the University of Cape Town

Clifford Amoako, Associate Professor
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Wes Grooms, Planning Theorist, Urban Political Economist and Visiting Assistant Professor
University at Buffalo

Davina Osei, Development Economist and Lecturer
Leiden University

Victor Osei Kwadwo, 
University of Maastricht

Andy Bonaventure Nyamekye, Expertise in Public Administration and Public Policy 

Kahad Adamu, PhD student
University at Buffalo

Gabriel K. Appiah, PhD student
Georgia Institute of Technology


Journal of the American Planning Association

Date Published

December 2021