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Predictable Corruption and Firm Investment: Evidence from a Natural Experiment and Survey of Cambodian Entrepreneurs


  • Malesky, Edmund J.
  • Samphantharak, Krislert


This paper utilizes a unique dataset of 500 firms in ten Cambodian provinces and a natural experiment to test a long-held convention in political economy that the predictability of a corruption is at least as important for firm investment decisions as the amount of bribes a firm must pay, provided the bribes are not prohibitively expensive. Our results suggest that this hypothesis is correct. Firms exposed to a shock to their bribe schedules by a change in governor invest significantly less in subsequent periods, as they wait for new information about their new chief executive. Furthermore, the amount of corruption (both measured by survey data and proxied by the number of commercial sex workers) is significantly lower in provinces with new governors. Our findings are robust to a battery of firm-level controls and province-level investment climate measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Malesky, Edmund J. & Samphantharak, Krislert, 2008. "Predictable Corruption and Firm Investment: Evidence from a Natural Experiment and Survey of Cambodian Entrepreneurs," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(3), pages 227-267, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00008013
    DOI: 10.1561/100.00008013

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    Cited by:

    1. Addis G. Birhanu & Alfonso Gambardella & Giovanni Valentini, 2016. "Bribery and investment: Firm-level evidence from Africa and Latin America," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(9), pages 1865-1877, September.
    2. Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2012. "Corruption in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 479-509, July.
    3. Nguyen, Nam H. & Phan, Hieu V. & Simpson, Thuy, 2020. "Political corruption and mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    4. Manabu Nose, 2018. "Road to Industrialized Africa: Role of Efficient Factor Market in Firm Growth," IMF Working Papers 2018/184, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Grilli, Luca & Murtinu, Samuele, 2018. "Selective subsidies, entrepreneurial founders' human capital, and access to R&D alliances," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(10), pages 1945-1963.
    6. Castellaneta, Francesco & Conti, Raffaele & Veloso, Francisco M. & Kemeny, Carlos A., 2016. "The effect of trade secret legal protection on venture capital investments: Evidence from the inevitable disclosure doctrine," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 524-541.
    7. Eric C. C. Chang, 2020. "Corruption predictability and corruption voting in Asian democracies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 184(3), pages 307-326, September.
    8. Hanousek, Jan & Shamshur, Anastasiya & Tresl, Jiri, 2017. "To bribe or not to bribe? Corruption uncertainty and corporate practices," CEPR Discussion Papers 12094, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Gulnaz Sharafutdinova & Jevgenijs Steinbuks, 2017. "Governors matter," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 25(3), pages 471-493, July.
    10. Ahmed, Faisal Z. & Greenleaf, Anne & Sacks, Audrey, 2014. "The Paradox of Export Growth in Areas of Weak Governance: The Case of the Ready Made Garment Sector in Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 258-271.
    11. Tkachenko, Andrey & Esaulov, Daniil, 2020. "Autocratic governors in public procurement," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    12. Duvanova, Dinissa, 2014. "Economic Regulations, Red Tape, and Bureaucratic Corruption in Post-Communist Economies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 298-312.
    13. Earle, John S. & Gehlbach, Scott, 2014. "The Productivity Consequences of Political Turnover: Firm-Level Evidence from Ukraine's Orange Revolution," IZA Discussion Papers 8510, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Andrey Tkachenko & Daniil Esaulov, 2018. "The Role Of Governors In Public Procurement," HSE Working papers WP BRP 19/PSP/2018, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    15. Rachid Laajaj & Marcela Eslava & Tidiane Kinda, 2019. "The Costs of Bureaucracy and Corruption at Customs: Evidence from the Computerization of Imports in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 017173, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    16. Timothy Frye & Andrei Yakovlev, 2015. "Elections and Property Rights: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 29/PS/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    17. 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.

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