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Combining Top-down and Bottom-up Accountability: Evidence from a Bribery Experiment

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  • Danila Serra

Abstract

Monitoring corruption typically relies on top-down interventions aimed at increasing the probability of external controls and the severity of punishment. An alternative approach to fighting corruption is to induce bottom-up pressure for reform. Recent studies have shown that both top-down and bottom-up mechanisms are rarely able to keep service providers accountable. This paper investigates the effectiveness of an accountability system that combines bottom-up monitoring and top-down auditing using data from a specifically designed bribery lab experiment. We compare “public officials” tendency to ask for bribes under: 1) no monitoring; 2) conventional top-down auditing, and 3) an accountability system which gives citizens the possibility to report corrupt officials, knowing that reports lead to formal punishment with some low probability (the same as in 2). The experimental results suggest that “combined” accountability systems can be highly effectives in curbing corruption, even when citizens “voice” leads to formal punishment with a relatively low probability. In contrast, pure top-down auditing may prove ineffective, especially in a weak institutional environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2008-25.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2008-25

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Keywords: corruption; monitoring; bottom-up; experiment;

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References

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  1. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," CESifo Working Paper Series 2894, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2002. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 428-454, October.
  3. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2009. "The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 488-503, December.
  4. Benjamin A. Olken, 2007. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 200-249.
  5. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  6. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  7. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
  8. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2008. "Corruption and culture: An Experimental Analysis," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2008-23, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
  10. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory experiments on corruption," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-38, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  11. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2003. "The Hot Versus Cold Effect in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, June.
  12. Lambsdorff, Johann Graf & Frank, Björn, 2010. "Bribing versus gift-giving - An experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 347-357, June.
  13. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 2003. "Testing Political Economy Models of Reform in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 208-212, May.
  14. Oxoby, Robert J. & McLeish, Kendra N., 2004. "Sequential decision and strategy vector methods in ultimatum bargaining: evidence on the strength of other-regarding behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 399-405, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Abbink, Klaus & Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun, 2012. "Letting the briber go free: an experiment on mitigating harassment bribes," MPRA Paper 42176, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2013. "The influence of wages on public officials' corruptibility: A laboratory investigation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-210, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Mikhail Drugov & John Hamman & Danila Serra, 2011. "Intermediaries in Corruption: An Experiment," Working Papers wp2011_01_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  4. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polanía Reyes, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A Preference-based Lucas Critique of Public Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2734, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polanía Reyes, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A preference-Based Lucas Critique of Public Policy," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-11, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  6. Olivier Armantier & Amadou Boly, 2014. "On the effects of incentive framing on bribery: evidence from an experiment in Burkina Faso," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 1-15, February.
  7. Bobkova, Nina & Egbert, Henrik, 2012. "Corruption investigated in the lab: a survey of the experimental literature," MPRA Paper 38163, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Timothy C. Salmon & Danila Serra, 2013. "Does Social Judgment Diminish Rule Breaking?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  9. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2011. "Economic incentives and social preferences: substitutes or complements?," Department of Economics University of Siena 617, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

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