Effective poverty reduction requires narrowing the gap between words and actions, making trust and accountability real within and between organisations, at all levels and between all actors. Aid agencies today are shifting emphasis from projects and service delivery to a language of rights and governance. They have introduced new approaches and requirements, stressing partnership and transparency. But embedded traditions and bureaucratic inertia mean old behaviours, procedures and organisational cultures persist. This Policy Briefing looks at how current practices maintain such cultures, and at how they can be changed by achieving consistency between personal behaviour; institutional norms and the new development agenda.