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How transparency may corrupt − experimental evidence from asymmetric public goods games

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  • Khadjavi, Menusch
  • Lange, Andreas
  • Nicklisch, Andreas

Abstract

We systematically explore the impact of transparency and punishment on cooperation in the provision of public goods. Motivated by problems of embezzlement, we study variations of a public goods game where one player (the official) may embezzle from an existing public good, while others (citizens) can only contribute. We show that transparency induces increased embezzlement in the absence of a punishment mechanism. The qualitative impact of transparency on contributions to the public good is reversed when a punishment mechanism is introduced. We identify stigmatization of the official when actions are not transparent. Only a combination of transparency of actions and peer-punishment options creates full accountability and increases contributions by all players.

Suggested Citation

  • Khadjavi, Menusch & Lange, Andreas & Nicklisch, Andreas, 2017. "How transparency may corrupt − experimental evidence from asymmetric public goods games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 468-481.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:468-481
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.07.035
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transparency; Accountability; Asymmetry; Public good; Punishment; Stigmatization;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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