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Corruption, social judgment and culture: An experiment

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  • Salmon, Timothy C.
  • Serra, Danila

Abstract

Modern societies rely on both formal and social mechanisms to enforce social norms of behavior. Formal enforcement mechanisms rely on monetary or other tangible incentives while social enforcement mechanisms rely on some form of social judgment involving informal sanctions. We experimentally investigate the extent to which social observability and the possibility of social judgment affect individuals’ decisions to engage in corruption at the expense of others. We are also interested in the degree to which culture matters. We use a laboratory experiment with a sample of individuals who live in the U.S. but are also characterized by cultural heterogeneity due to the immigration of their ancestors to the U.S. We find that the possibility of social judgment reduces corruption only among individuals who identify culturally with countries characterized by low levels of corruption. Our findings suggest that the effectiveness of social enforcement mechanisms is at least partly dependent on the sociocultural norms prevailing in the target population.

Suggested Citation

  • Salmon, Timothy C. & Serra, Danila, 2017. "Corruption, social judgment and culture: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 64-78.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:64-78
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.06.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey V. Butler & Danila Serra & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2017. "Motivating Whistleblowers," CEIS Research Paper 419, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 12 Dec 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corruption; Social enforcement; Culture; Experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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