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

Listed author(s):
  • Ramos Joao

    (PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia)

  • Torgler Benno

    ()

    (Queensland University of Technology)

Registered author(s):

    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%.

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    File URL: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/rle.2012.8.issue-3/1555-5879.1617/1555-5879.1617.xml?format=INT
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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Review of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (December)
    Pages: 563-577

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:8:y:2012:i:3:p:563-577:n:7
    Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.degruyter.com

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    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. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, September.
    5. Funk, Patricia & Kugler, Peter, 2003. "Dynamic interactions between crimes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 291-298, June.
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