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Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment

Author

Listed:
  • Ramos Joao

    (PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia)

  • Torgler Benno

    () (Queensland University of Technology)

Abstract

We test the broken windows theory using a field experiment in a shared area of an academic workplace (the department common room). More specifically, we explore academics’ and postgraduate students’ behavior under an order condition (a clean environment) and a disorder condition (a messy environment). We find strong evidence that signs of disorderly behavior trigger littering: In 59% of the cases, subjects litter in the disorder treatment as compared to 18% in the order condition. These results remain robust in a multivariate analysis even when controlling for a large set of factors not directly examined by previous studies. Overall, when academic staff and postgraduate students observe that others have violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean, all else being equal, the probability of littering increases by around 40%.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramos Joao & Torgler Benno, 2012. "Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(3), pages 563-577, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:8:y:2012:i:3:p:563-577:n:7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, December.
    2. Funk, Patricia & Kugler, Peter, 2003. "Dynamic interactions between crimes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 291-298, June.
    3. Torgler Benno & Frey Bruno S. & Wilson Clevo, 2009. "Environmental and Pro-Social Norms: Evidence on Littering," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-41, April.
    4. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
    5. P. B. Anand, 2000. "Co-operation and the urban environment: An exploration," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(5), pages 30-58.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel & Sebastian Kube & Michael Kurschilgen, 2011. "Can we manage first impressions in cooperation problems? An experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2014.
    2. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by TILEC DP 2013-006)," Discussion Paper 2012-024, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    3. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2013. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of TILEC DP 2013-006)," Discussion Paper 2013-018, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    4. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2013. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of CentER DP 2013-018)," Discussion Paper 2013-037, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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