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Lying about firm performance: Evidence from a survey in Nigeria

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  • Clarke, George

Abstract

It is difficult to be sure that managers in developing countries report financial information accurately and truthfully during firm surveys. The most common concern is that managers might under-report performance to avoid attracting attention from the tax authorities or corrupt bureaucrats. Using a method developed in the literature on corruption, this paper identifies managers who appear to be reticent or deceptive and compares their answers with the answers of non-reticent managers. The paper shows that reticent managers report that their firms are more, not less, productive than non-reticent managers. The paper then assesses possible reasons for this, finding that the most likely explanation is that reticent managers exaggerate performance so that they or their firms look good. Because past studies have found that reticent managers appear to lie about other aspects of firm and manager behavior—including underreporting corruption—this suggests that it will be difficult to fully assess how these behaviors affect firm performance unless reticence is controlled for.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35382.

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Date of creation: 11 Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35382

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Keywords: Reticence; Nigeria; Firm Surveys; Corruption; Labor Productivity;

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References

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  1. Omar Azfar & Peter Murrell, 2009. "Identifying Reticent Respondents: Assessing the Quality of Survey Data on Corruption and Values," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 387-411, 01.
  2. George R.G. Clarke & James Habyarimana & Michael Ingram & David Kaplan & Vijaya Ramachandran, 2007. "An Assessment of the Investment Climate in South Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6738.
  3. Jensen, Nathan M & Rahman, Aminur, 2011. "The silence of corruption : identifying underreporting of business corruption through randomized response techniques," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5696, The World Bank.
  4. Recanatini, Francesca & Wallsten, Scott J. & Lixin Colin Xu, 2000. "Surveying surveys and questioning questions - learning from World Bank experience," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2307, The World Bank.
  5. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Clarke, George, 2012. "Do reticent managers lie during firm surveys?," MPRA Paper 37634, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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